The 12th annual IESNYC Student Lighting Competition, “Fraction/Refraction”, was held Wednesday night at the appropriately well-lit Helen Mills Event Space in Chelsea. The competition was open to all interested students in New York City and included entries from designers at Pratt Institute, Parsons/New School, Fashion Institute of Technology, Fordham, and New York School of Interior Design. Over 100 entries created a luminous one-night exhibition of over 100 light-sourced objects, each with a different take on this year’s theme of “how light plays with textures, flows through materials and creates layers of contrast.”
There were many different takes on the theme at different scales. Some entries were more traditional light-emitting objects, others used multiple lights and materials to create layered effects, while some obscured the line between object and environment by projecting designs onto the walls of the gallery. Many were interactive, and there were even some architectural models, which doubled as lamps that night. A keynote address came from Dietrich Neumann, author of Structure of Light: Richard Kelly and the Illumination of Modern Architecture, about Kelly’s work as “the first modern lighting designer” including his close collaborations with Philip Johnson and Mies Van Der Rohe. Kelly even convinced Mies to use the white travertine in the Seagrams Building rather than dark green marble.
Grand Prize went to Pratt’s Sejung Oh, whose project titled “Dal Beat” was inspired by Oh’s pondering of the moon and how its light reflected off of water. It was an interactive piece, inviting participants to hit the moon-like drumskin, sending vibrations through water which reflected the light into radial patterns. When asked what he was going to do next, Oh responded, “Im excited to go home and sleep. I didn’t sleep last night.” Well, Sejung, it paid off. The Grand Prize is $2,000 and a trip to Paris to visit L’atelier and La Machine.
Second Place was Ivre, by Sang Yoon-Lee also of Pratt. His well-constructed wine bottle projectors got the judges’ attention with interactive cork screws which allowed users to play with the focus of light on the wall via lenses in the bottles.
In Third Place was Farnaz Hamedanchian, of New York School of Interior Design. Her peaceful composition of natural elements used refracted light to make artful shadows on the wall behind them. The simple, organic feel of the piece set it apart from most of the other projects which used an assortment of lighting technologies and synthetic materials.
An honorable mention went to Pratt’s Andrew An and his “Quasar” project. The simple setup utilized a directed light source in its base which was refracted through a suspended glass ball, making an animated projection on the ceiling. The piece directly referenced Achille Castiglioni’s Arco Lamp, and was one of many examples of projects that served as both object and environmental element, an interesting take on the theme of refraction.