Featured Designer: Linnaea Tillett

ID Collaborative blog post

Have you heard of Linnaea Tillett? Neither had I until read about her in the June issue of Metropolis. Linnaea Tillett is a lighting designer who runs a firm out of Brooklyn, NY. Her design strategy revolves around the idea that most of the time you need less to see more. She knows that seeing is not just about light, but distinguishing shadow as well.

Linnaea is the daughter of D.D. and Leslie Tillett. D.D. Tillett and Leslie Tillett designed handcrafted fabrics for fashion and interiors beginning in the mid 1940’s. Linnaea blogged about her parents on her website. If you would like to read more about them you can find it here: Lighting of the World. I recommend it. Linnaea has an undergraduate degree in philosophy in from the University College London. Linnaea began to make the connection between light and emotional content while working in theater production. She eventually enrolled in the doctorate program in environmental psychology at City University of New York. “I was always thinking about light. So I got a PhD in how to communicate about light.”

Linnaea not only knows how to work with emotion, she know how to work with materials; and the less the better. “You try to use very little. You ask questions of sensibilities.” She rarely approaches a project assuming more light is needed. “It could be color or signage. And sometimes I can do more for you if we turn things off. Sometimes you can see too much. Or there may be too much light in one area, not enough in others.”

I think Linnaea is inspirational and her approach is not only innovative, but necessary. Its so easy to make things pretty or assume the obvious “fix” is the appropriate solution. But we have to make a change in the way we do things or we may run out of resources. We should all take the time to ask ourselves “Am I really are designing with a purpose?”

The Tillett Lighting Design Manifesto (From their website):

“Our work is both poetic and non-poetic (i.e., practical). We oscillate between pragmatic and aesthetic function—tipping even the most straightforward condition—a street, a hallway, a bike bridge—into a condition that is open to artistic form.

We respect the need to protect the night sky and wellbeing of the many nocturnal species inhabiting our world. Hence our approach turns on first analyzing where—and even if—lighting is needed. Whenever possible, we amplify, reuse and refine what exists. And if light is missing, we add it in as subtle and efficacious a manner as possible.

We operate with an acute sensitivity to the desired emotional texture of a space—its effective, social and economic dimensions. In shaping the ambiance of a place, we look to impact not only the visual experience, but, as importantly, the felt experience.

Finally, we recognize that we are operating in a global climate that is increasingly complex, extreme, unpredictable and even savage. Therefore, we look to employ new thinking and techniques so that our lighting installations can function in unstable and adverse circumstances.”

Akiko Busch wrote the article in Metropolis. She did a fantastic job too. I recommend you read it too. You can find it here: Seeing in the Dark – Metropolis June 2014