Case Study Details

LOCATION: Grayslake, IL


Aurora Lighting Design Shines, with Commercial OLED Fixture in Home Office Space

The Challenge

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.

The Result

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, more inspiring,” said North.  

“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!”