Configuring Light’s 3rd ESRC Seminar: Lighting Futures

Research seminar hosted by Configuring Light and LSE Cities

Light and lighting are undergoing profound technological changes that are transforming private and public realms. The combination of LED and new control systems have put light centre stage in debates about the future of our cities and homes as social spaces are re-imagined in different ways and scenarios. Light is now a concrete theme in mainstream public debate with issues such as sustainability, the environment and health and wellbeing, especially in the UNESCO International Year of Light 2015. In addition, ever expanding aesthetic possibilities have opened up as new products come on stream which change colour temperature, rendering and atmosphere and offer greater possibilities to intervene and shape the look and feel of our home and urban environment.

The 3rd Configuring Light/Staging the Social ESRC-funded seminar – and our first gathering during the UNESCO International Year of Light 2015 – explored the role of new lighting technologies and trends in configuring the future of cities and homes and, vice versa, how imaginations of social futures are shaping our understandings of new possibilities for lighting. Speakers from diverse academic disciplines and professional practices addressed the following questions:

1. What will be key lighting innovations, developments and opportunities in the coming decades?
2. What will future homes and cities look like in relation to these developments?
3. What are the tools and methodologies employed to imagine these social and technological futures?

The two panels comprised academics and practitioners, confirmed speakers were: Dr Anna Carlsson-Hyslop (Manchester University), Professor Andrew Barry (UCL), Brendan Keely (SLL), Lisa White (WGSN), Dr Susanne Seitinger (Philips) and Professor Marion Roberts (Westminster University).

This event was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and is the second of a three-year seminar series of the Configuring Light/Staging the Social programme which is coordinated between LSE Cities (Dr Don Slater, Mona Sloane) and King’s College London (Dr Joanne Entwistle) and examines different knowledges, practices and technologies through which we use and understand lighting in everyday life, urban planning and design.

Image: Copyright Adafruit Industries  


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    Andrew Barry

    Andrew Barry is Professor of Human Geography at UCL. He has held lectureships in the Department of Human Sciences at Brunel University and the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths’ College and was a Reader in Geography and subsequently Professor of Political Geography in the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University, and a Fellow at St Catherine’s College. He is involved in a series of innovative initiatives in social and geographical theory, which have led to the publication of edited collections of papers relating to the work of Michel Foucault, Michel Callon and Gabriel Tarde..

    Anna Carlsson-Hyslop

    Anna Carlsson-Hyslop is a post-doctoral Research Associate at the Sustainable Consumption Institute at The University of Manchester. She works with Professor Frank Trentmann on a project on the history of energy demand in 20th century Britain. The investigates energy use in council housing in three British local authorities 1920-1970. The project is linked to DEMAND, one of the new End Use Energy Demand (EUED) research centres.

    Brendan Keely

    Brendan Keely is professional lighting designer and Secretary of the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL). Previously, he led the BDP Manchester lighting design studio and was also regional representative for SLL in the North West.

    Marion Roberts

    Marion Roberts is Professor of Urban Design and Faculty PhD Coordinator at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at Westminster University. Her research evolves around the night-time economy, youth, alcohol and health as well as gender divisions and cities. She also is co-ordinator of the Urban Studies Research Group in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at Westminster University.

    Susanne Seitinger

    Susanne Seitinger is City Innovations Manager at Philips Color Kinetic. She is responsible for leading the research and strategy around the impact of programmable LED lighting elements to create safe, inviting and responsive urban environments. Susanne received a BA from Princeton University as well as a PhD, MS and MCP from MIT. Her PhD dissertation—Liberated Pixels: Alternative Narratives for Lighting Future Cities—explored the aesthetic and interactive potentials for future lighting and display infrastructures.

    Lisa White

    Lisa White is creative director of HOMEBUILDLIFE at WGSN, leading the development of all HOMEBUILDLIFE content, from conceptual trends to commercial product. She also directs the Think Tank on both WGSN and HBL and speaks internationally on trends. Her professional background began with Li Edelkoort, editing the iconic trade publications View on Colour, In View and Bloom. She has advised clients ranging from the Bon Marché to LG and Rolex.