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“See the Light” – or … know what I mean?

A book about the common sense of lighting designers

A critique on Svante Pettersson’s Buch “See the Light” by Joachim Ritter

Imagine you get together with all your friends and colleagues from the lighting design community to sit around and talk about light. Through such activities you feel strengthened in your opinion or you learn something new, you describe what you think and hear what you have never put in words, developing your skills and beliefs in the process. A great feeling. Learning (not only) by seeing! Through the eye, but also through the heart.

By the same token you could sit yourself down and read Svante Pettersson’s book “See the Light”. It has the same effect as if you were discussing with and listening to colleagues. “See the Light” is a great work, a generously illustrated book with copious informative captions explaining how light works and how it triggers our emotions. It is not a work that describes and defines light in numbers, as is the case in other more technical fields, but is rather about the experiences the author, Svante, has made with light – as we all have done – and wants to share with us. I say Svante, because through the book he comes across as a close friend and a great colleague, one who feels what light is all about and can put it in a nutshell. EacSee the light freeh of the 14 chapters is like a segment of the lighting design world, with stories in words and pictures.

“See the Light” is a standard work, a highly inspirational book about light, the philosophy of light and the art of getting to know your visual sense. The latter is especially important, because everything that is described here is about our “sense of sight”, as it is referred to in the book – which is actually common sense.

The book comprises 14 chapters over 310 pages, beginning – not surprisingly – with Nordic Light, the light that obviously made the greatest impression on Svante, and continuing with topics such as Shadows, Glare, Light moments, the Tools of light, and many more.

You should not read this book if you do not have the aptitude to follow what Svante is referring to in his reports, because you are dependent on technical data and numbers to be able to realise your designs. The only numbers you will find in this book are the numbers of the pages. And yet, if you wish to engage with lighting design at this level and find that after reading the book you have indeed understood how light works, you will be in a position to design more successfully and with more effect than you have ever done basing everything on lighting metrics and standards from the start.

I would definitely recommend this book and even go as far as to say it is a must – not just to buy and stick on the shelf, but for everyday use on your desk. Because, when necessary, this work can help you to regain a human-scale approach to design, when you have lost yourself in the plethora of engineering values, standards and regulations.

Reading this book means living what we like about life: learning by seeing and feeling, and on all accounts with a smile on your face.

Svante Pettersson
See The Light
310 pages with many coloured pictures
Arvinius + Orfeus AB
www.ao-publishing.com
ISBN 978-91-87543-24-1

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