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Walking through the historic Schindler House in West Hollywood this past Sunday, I discovered something amazing about recessed lighting: namely that something so hidden could look so amazing.
First a little history lesson: Austrian born R.M. Schindler worked under Frank Lloyd Wright and in 1920 was sent to Los Angeles to oversee the construction of Wright's Hollyhock house. In 1922 Schindler set up his own practice with the construction of his Kings Road House in West Hollywood.
Fast forward nearly one century to this past Sunday, and I found myself strolling through the nearly empty rooms of the house (now managed by the MAK Center, "a think tank art, architecture, urbanism, design, and international discourse") listening to the sound of reel-to-reel tape recordings in a sound art performance curated and produced by the Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS). The layered, eerie tape recordings were mesmerizing. But so was the space itself.
What struck me most was how the furniture-less rooms hardly seemed empty. There wasn't excessive ornamentation in the rooms (Schindler's work is philosophically absolutely opposed to that), yet there was an extraordinary sense of depth. Materials like wood and cement mixed beautifully in the rooms. Daylight didn't stream in per se; in fact, the space was designed such that it feels like daylight is allowed to enter by permission only.
Looking about, I noticed that, aside from two pendant lights in the main room, visible light sources were conspicuously absent. Instead, the entire home was lit tastefully by recessed lighting, giving it a dramatic, staged look. Subtle architectural details took on a new life under these tucked away lights.
LR6 12 Watt LED 6" Recessed Light Module
Sometimes the beauty of an object lies in what you don't see, as is the case with the Schindler House's lighting design. Modern energy efficient recessed lights stow away nicely, and an LED fixture (pictured above) in particular will produce relatively little heat. For a warmer, spotlight style like I found in much of the Schindler House, you might want to consider a halogen light (pictured below).
Juno 4" Low Voltage Flush Gimbal Recessed Light Trim
Some recessed lighting fixtures are adjustable as in the above, allowing you to swivel or tilt the light, and some are fixed...and as I recently learned, in the right space, they can all be stunning.
Don't believe me? Check out the MAK Center website for upcoming events at the house. You won't be disappointed.
Images: Moby, Wikipedia, Markus Canter, Architecture Week
Schindler House: Recessed Lighting Magic in Modern Architecture
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