On the 23rd of May at Parsons the New School for Design, Ted Simpson, head of marketing for Philips North America presented together with Professor of Lighting Design, Derek Porter, the Learning Innovation Award 2013 to top of the class student Min Chul Song for his innovative end of year submission which combines natural and electric light to provide airline passengers with the optimum light conditions to help them arrive in the best condition. The Learning Innovation Award is part of the collaboration between Philips and the Parsons School which aims to link innovation and education with designers.
A passenger airplane is a building. It encloses us to eat, work, play, and sleep just like any other building. While it moves,near the speed of sound, it is also a place that must provide people a good lighting condition to help them with their activities or lack off. Like buildings on the ground, we can think of creating a daylit environment from the perspective of visual comfort and task performance. With the key differencebeing that it is at the height of 35,000 feet, above the clouds.
When we look at this from a daylight design perspective, the building moves and thus the entire context is constantly moving as well. Light quality is constantly changing, yet there are some common grounds (although there is no ground) of our human needs and what is provided. Given the current window positions in airplanes, the lighting distribution is very uneven through the compartment section. Light distribution became a primary goal. My answer was to create light channels that transmit daylight near the ceilings.
After thinking about the initial design, I started to develop a way to test and verify it. A scaled model of an extruded section lit by a circline fluorescent light is made so I could assess the light distribution. At the same time I could change the form and interior finishes of the light channel. The photographed result also compares the light levels within the space.
The project gives a prospect of a lighting design approach that would be suited to use in the design of an airplane. The advancement of technology will change some details, but this I hope will bring ambition to design spaces other than the static buildings in terms of the two things lighting designers want to present: task performance and visual comfort.
Minchul Song -
Winner of the Philips Innovation Award 2013