Aurora Lighting Design Shines, with Commercial OLED Fixture in Home Office Space
When lighting is your business, you need to practice what you preach.
Aurora Lighting Design is an influential, independent architectural
lighting design practice founded in 2005 by Leslie North – a prestigious
lighting designer known for her work with Northwestern Memorial Hospital,
Walgreens and Kingdom Tower.
The firm operates from North’s home just outside of Chicago. The office
space in the home is relatively large, and features wood paneling, picture
windows for natural daylighting and 7-foot-5-inch coffered ceilings – all
elements that North loved about the space, with one exception… the lighting.
“The location and views made it a pleasant area to work in,” said North.
“However, the lighting needed some work. We were looking for a lighting
solution to further enhance the office rather than hinder it.”
Because the space was a home office, North faced an uncommon challenge. It
was essential for the new lighting system to provide a comfortable workspace
for the home office environment, but North also had to consider how a lighting
design might affect the resale value of her home. It needed a blend of commercial
and residential lighting that could be functional for working, yet aesthetically
pleasing for a home.
Prior to selecting a new fixture, Aurora Lighting Design updated its space by
retrofitting the existing incandescent R-lamp downlights first with CFL lamps
and then LED lamps from a variety of manufacturers. They considered numerous
LED luminaires and LED task lights, but those did not achieve the aesthetic
the designers desired. Most designs were too “corporate,” a design statement
that would clash with the warm, honey-colored paneling.
“For a design firm, you want those extra elements in your space to provide a
creative spark,” said North.
Lighting solution after lighting solution was evaluated. The consensus continued
to be the same – each solution achieved a few aspects of what the firm was looking
for, but still left the designers wondering if there was a better solution.
The Solution: A New Concept
North had an “aha” moment when she was introduced to a new OLED lighting
system that recently launched in the commercial marketplace. Her innate
interest in OLED technology coupled with the design and capabilities of the
Winona Lighting Trilia OLED luminaire from Acuity Brands had North wondering
if OLED technology could deliver the right look and feel as well as proper
lighting performance in her space.
“Prior to learning about Acuity Brands OLED luminaires and the commercialization
of OLEDs in general, my impression was the fixtures were more of a high-priced
aesthetic touch, an art piece rather than a functional piece,” said North.
However, after seeing and experiencing the possibilities with Trilia first-hand,
North was intrigued by the opportunity of OLED for area lighting. The Trilia OLED
modular units allow designers to shape single or expansive networks of OLED
lighting and create an exquisite interplay of symmetry and asymmetry.
“After I saw the fixture, I kept staring at my office ceiling thinking this would
work. This would really work,” said North.
North proceeded with designing a custom layout of the Trilia modular units for the
space, with the goal of arranging the pattern in a way that casts the most light
over the three permanent and three tertiary workstations within the office. The
versatility of the modular units allowed the lighting designers to create six
custom layouts before ultimately deciding on the right design for the space.
“We wanted an organic configuration rather than something uniform,” said Ashley
Mikels,a designer at Aurora Lighting Design. “We decided on an asymmetrical
layout within the ceiling that works well for the office. In fact, it almost
looks like we designed the ceiling around the Trilia OLED luminaire.”
Aurora Lighting Design opted for the 3000K panels (rather than the 3500K
luminaires they typically specify) due to the need to incorporate into the
residential aesthetic, as well as the panels’ increased lumen output and life
expectancy. The wallbox control was replaced with a 0-10 volt dimmer in order
to coordinate with the Trilia OLED luminaire drivers, which dim down to 10
percent of full light output.
North and her team at Aurora Lighting Design have been very pleased with the
Trilia OLED luminaire. According to Mikels, it was the only fixture the firm
felt could fit its needs as an office as well as a home if it needed to be
converted or sold in the future.
During the day and evening, Aurora Lighting Design prefers to dim the OLED fixture
to about 60 percent output and supplement with lighting from LED task lights at
their desks. Daylight provides the rest. It is only at twilight or heavily overcast
days that the lighting is controlled to deliver near full output.
“The combination between the OLED and LED lighting creates a soft light and
natural shadows with nice balance. And, I love that the Trilia OLED luminaire
allows you to have a connection to nature. It hints back to something more organic,
“There is something about this particular product that lends itself to a creative
connection. When visitors are in our space, they are often so intrigued that they
ask to physically touch it.”
North also predicted that the use of OLED lighting in residential spaces is bound to
evolve and grow. “It’s definitely a technology that can be used in cross-over products.
As for the Trilia OLED luminaire specifically, if we converted our office space into a
recreational space like it would naturally be in a residential setting, we could put a
pool table under it and make it a heck of a rec room!”