Winning designs




PROJECT NAME : Color Cloud

NAME OF WINNER(S) : Sergio Ramos

PLACE : Madrid, Espagne


A month ago we announced the winners of the 2012 CLU Foundation Contest whose main purpose is to encourage young designers to develop innovative lighting concepts for exterior public spaces. In the next few weeks we will be posting interviews with the four winners.

Today we are happy to post an interview with the 1st prize laureate, Mr. Sergio Ramos from Spain who won for his project Color Cloud, emotional system for public spaces.

First, congratulations on winning the first prize of the CLU Foundation Contest.

I would like to thank the CLU Foundation by proposing a design competition so suggestive, and the support of Philips Lumec for making this a reality. I would like to congratulate all participants, especially my two colleagues for this project, Ricardo Morcillo and Justo Garcia. My prize is also theirs. 


Tell me about yourself, your career and your education.

I’m almost 30 years old and I am an architect who is just beginning his career. I studied architecture at the School of Alicante, AeA, with Ricardo & Justo (my colleagues in the winning project) and I have worked in several architectural firms and with a great Interior Designer, named Luis Galliussi. However I have now chosen to start my own studio, cr3am. We started with artistic installations in public spaces and are producing projects all over the world. We recently won a contest in Stuttgart Germany and we are looking to construct a winter-hut in Canada.


Where does your interest in lighting design come from? 

I think it started with Ricardo during our student days playing with lights to create lamps for our rented flat. Then we specialized a bit more in understanding light as one of the key parts of architecture. In the latter stages, we tried to understand how light can help humans physically and mentally especially what artificial light and control design can do on their physical parameters.


Why did you choose to participate in the CLU Foundation contest?

We decided to do a summer workshop with friends that would allow us to spend time working together and enjoying each other’s company. Our work and our careers often separate us.

The theme Lightitude –Lighting Urban Areas above the Polar Circle seemed so suggestive and we were able to go back and rethink the material that Ricardo had prepared for his final thesis and recontextualize it for this special project. We entered the contest so we could have fun and have time to think about the future and improve the world by thinking outside the reality of our work in architecture.

The jury really appreciated the festive element of your proposal. Can you share with us your initial idea behind this light cloud? 

Urban lighting can often be dull and boring, this color is a cheerful light invasion within the public space. If you also think of places like Murmmansk Russia, we would bring a little warmth. But it is a cloud that works with color therapy. It’s an emotional device.


 Do you think that your proposal could become a reality? 

Some things in life are bad, but we are looking on the bright side of life. The technology of this system is real and it would be easy to carry out. Of course this would require further development of the project, prototyping, etc… But who would invest in this? We just saw a guy jump into the void from the stratosphere, for what? For advertising. Spend millions on weapons, for what? Humans do stupid or silly things. Perhaps the cloud was one of them or perhaps it could be something brilliant and beneficial to humans.


What were your motivations for the light cloud?

It is a line of research that Ricardo began to develop. It combines everything we learned in our career. With Diller & Scofidio Blur Building we started to give our first steps as students of architecture. It is our history in this world as Architects. We want to produce spaces where people could feel emotion.


Please tell us more about the operational aspect of your installation. As it is powered by natural elements, how does it work? 

It combines three natural energy aspects. Simulating a phenomenon of nature called Raleigh,

The wind, provides electrical energy to create light.
Moisture, water, is the canvas where light is trapped, the colloidal system.
The light emitted changes its color to pass through this mist, depending on its wavelength and the manner of colliding: Colors.

It’s something very pictorial, almost artistic and an expression of nature.


How do you see lighting design evolving on a long-term basis? 

It will tend towards the naturalization of light and generating power saving. These efficiency systems will provide us with intelligent controls and increasingly complex systems that are at our disposal. That way the light shows and their many possibilities will never end.


How do you see your professional career evolving? 

We live in a period of deep crisis in our country, economically and politically. It is a tough time that we live in. But for me, starting my professional career makes me feel more alive, more daring. We live on the edge of survival, always trying keep the light, the heat, the passion.

Surfing the difficulties and enjoying every moment, I hope to enjoy architecture and design every single day.



PROJECT NAME : L'oasis lum ineu x

NAME OF WINNER(S) : Ivan Rodriguez

PLACE : Nantes, France


Today we introduce you to Mr. Ivan Rodriguez, a young designer and the 2nd prize laureate of the 2012 CLU Foundation Contest. The judges were intrigued by the therapeutic benefits of the project Oasis lumineuse. Lighting panels projecting a blue light are installed around a gathering area. The light oasis created allows remote area inhabitants to get together and enjoy rare lighting benefits.  

Congratulations on winning the second prize of the CLU Foundation Contest. Tell me about yourself, your career and your education.

First of all I would like to say thanks to the CLU Foundation for awarding my project with the second prize, it is a great motivation to keep working as a designer and keep exploring different and new fields the way this project did.

I am a 25-year-old product designer from Bogota Colombia. I studied product design for five years at L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, in France, so I lived in Nantes for three years. I was part of the first batch from this school following a Master’s degree in Cross-cultural Design in Bangalore India, on an exchange program of two years with the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology.

I have worked as an intern for Bruno Houssin a French designer based in Nantes, with Abhijit Bansod, designer from India at Studio Abd in Bangalore and with Tycka Design a consultant design firm, also based in Bangalore.

When I entered the contest I was still a part of the exchange program in India, but since then I have finished my studies and I’m back in Nantes for this year. I will be working as a freelancer in France for some time and then I will try to get a job opportunity in some other country other than Colombia, France or India in order to get more experience as a cross-cultural designer.  This is very important to me because discovering new cultures is fascinating, but also because I think and believe that design needs to answer real needs and problems of the societies that are closely related to particular cultures and context. In order to give the best answer possible to a design problem, we need to understand those societies, those cultures and those markets. And in a world that is more and more ruled by globalization, I think that design becomes a key that allows preserving global markets without breaking the characteristics of each culture, adapting what we produce to a particular context.  


Is this the first time that you have worked in lighting design?  

I have already completed school projects where I had to think about different kinds of lighting designs, like for example trying to conceive a lamp that follows the standards and ideology of IKEA, or trying to express emotions through light by thinking about a night club where the user will have a different experience through light and color.

Also, two of the designers with whom I completed my internships have already done very good works involving lighting design, so I had the chance to learn some elements from them. On one side there is Bruno Houssin who works very often for Artemide, and who has a Red Dot Award thanks to his project KAO. He also likes to merge furniture design and lightning design on luminous seats or luminous desks which I find really interesting. And, on the other side there is Abhijit Bansod who has a Red Dot Award too, for his study-lamp for BPL “Halo”, and here what is interesting is the answer to a specific context and a specific problem which is power cuts in India. This lamp using LED has a battery that can last for a long time without being charged. So, here the thinking about this problem is also something I found interesting.


Why did you choose to participate in the CLU Foundation Contest?

My school in France keeps encouraging us to take part in design contests every year as a part of our formation, so I had to find a contest to work on. When I found the CLU Foundation Contest, I thought it could be a good experience for my formation on cross-cultural design, because the contest itself was pushing me to think about a particular area of the world, with a particular environment where I have never been. This was definitely interesting to me because it forced me to try to understand how people living in the areas above the polar circle could be influenced by their environment, and to try to think and search about the cultural consequences coming from the fact that the sunlight in these areas don’t follow what we could call a normal circadian rhythm.


How did this year’s contest theme inspire you in creating this proposal? 

The contest theme was inspiring in the sense that it made me try to think and look for a solution that could have some impact and contrast with the life that people in those areas could have. It was inspiring because I have never been in any of those areas, so even though I did some research about them and about their way of life, the theme by itself was already creating in my mind an image related to those places, imagining an environment that is cold and dark, but also that is painted by white and blue tones. An environment that becomes wild and natural because of the extreme conditions of life. It was inspiring by the simple fact that you can imagine yourself in a complete different place from where you are. 

Also, in my research about the theme and the region I got a strong inspiration from the architecture from the cities of those areas, specially from the Arctic Cathedral and the Library in Tromso. These two structures break with the traditional architecture of the city by their form and the fact that in the dark they become a strong outdoor source of light. It was great context to be creative and look for contrast.


Tell us about your idea and the importance it gives to the community.

The idea behind the Oasis lumineuse (Oasis of Light) is to create a space that allows citizens from the urban areas above the polar circle to first of all find a place that will provide a source of light that can replace the natural sunlight. My research showed me that the lack of sunlight creates sleep and fatigue problems in everyday life. So creating a space that allows people of the community to feel better with themselves is something I consider very important, not only in a personal aspect, but also in helping them to improve their relations between each other around a common activity, and more so if this activity turns around space into an interesting activity area for kids who are the most affected by those sleeping problems. Here, I’m proposing an open space for people of all ages to meet and share together in the middle of the darkness. It is also proposing a new outdoor activity in cities where the cold and the dark might make people feel reluctant to go outside.


 Tell us about the therapeutic aspect of your project.

I conceptualized this project around the fact that when we are in the dark there is a chemical reaction that is produced in our brain. The lack of sunlight, specially the blue light that is on it made us produce a hormone called melatonin. This hormone is produced in the pineal gland, and it is the one that makes us feel sleepy. The production of the hormone is inhibited by the light and it decreases with the age of the person. Also, it is important to know that the exposure to blue light for 30 to 40 minutes a day is enough to have a normal day and helps cut the chemical reaction, putting a stop to that feeling of fatigue and sleep.

Those elements are the key point of the Oasis lumineuse. First of all because of the fact that the regions above the polar circle are not exposed to the sunlight for almost six month, this creates problems in the sleeping cycle of people. Secondly, the people who will be the most touched by this lack of sun, are kids by the simple fact that they produce more melatonin than an adult, so those are the reasons why it was important for me to create a public space that propose artificial blue light to replace the lack of sun. But also, it is why it was essential for me to turn this space into a fun and attractive area for the kids. The Oasis lumineuse proposes a game of light where kids will have to jump from a spot to the other making them use their balance and agility. This activity is part of the therapeutic aspect of the project because the combination of the light with the physical activity will help kids to stay awake and help them to be more focused during the day. I think that this can be very important for them to be more dynamic and focused when they will have to go to school.

The idea is to create a space where people will go to be exposed to this blue light every morning before going to work or to school in order to be more awake and feel better.


Do you think that Nordic communities would appreciate your proposal?

I think Nordic communities can appreciate the proposal because it is not just a therapeutic proposal, but also because it is proposing a place with an outdoor activity. I think that in Nordic areas it is important to propose outdoor activities in the period of darkness in order to promote social exchange in their natural environment. This can make them feel more comfortable with the extreme conditions of the place where they live, by meeting people from their community outside and by gathering in a public space.


What did you learn by taking part in this contest?

There are two elements that for me are the most important that I learnt by taking part in this contest.

The first is that I have definitely learnt a lot about the regions above the polar circle and I found those areas really beautiful and exciting, giving me the desire to one day go and see them for myself. I found that the beauty of those regions is inspiring from an aesthetic point of view.

The second is that I also learnt a lot about lighting, and specially the effect of sunlight on human beings, which I found really interesting and I think it is the best part because it could be helpful for future projects, if I work again on lighting design, and am sure that will be the case.


How do you think lighting design will evolve in the future? 

I think that lighting design first of all won’t have the choice and will have to find a way to evolve into an element that doesn’t represent a problem for the environment. It will habe to be accessible for everyone and everywhere at the same time. I think that lighting design will have to go hand in hand with research for new sources of energy that are not harmful to the environment. And when I say that it should be accessible for everyone everywhere I’m thinking about the regions of the world where people cannot afford the access to light in a particular or public way. I’m thinking about cities or public spaces where the darkness can become an element of insecurity. Places where the night and the darkness become a reason for danger. I think lighting design will have an important role to play in these areas.

Also I think and hope that lighting design will evolve into a more sensitive experience, becoming something more than simple lighting on a street or a in a house.

Creating experiences that involve other senses other than vision: touch, hearing, and smell! Experiences that will help people to share emotions in every kind of situation! I’m thinking about an intelligent lighting that adapts to us even if we are not at home and that becomes part of the representation of us like clothes or accessories, creating a game of light and color around the person. 


Where would you like to be in 10 years, from a professional standpoint? 

This is no doubt a very hard question to answer, especially when you have just finished your studies and got a diploma. I am in a period of my life where I will have to get out of the bubble that comes with the student life, and in some way keeps you protected from the real world. And when you see that you face a world with an economic crisis, with no job opportunities, with political conflicts all around, a society of consumption and hypocrisy that is destroying the environment and that is based on keeping strong inequalities, superficiality or facebook status it is hard to project where one will be in a decade.

But I guess that the challenge is there, I know I have the basic tools a designer needs, and I hope that 10 years from now as a designer I will be able to understand easily what is happening around me and the way the different societies of the world behave in order to provide design solutions that are pertinent and useful, because I believe in a design that brings solutions, not a design that just sell products.

I know that 10 years from now I want to have increased my international work experience and be in a position to produce for different cultures, products that adapt to their particular needs. I see myself working for a multinational design firm using what I have learnt as a cross-cultural designer.



PROJECT NAME : Arctic Blossom

NAME OF WINNER(S) : Robert Trempe

PLACE : Philadelphia, États-Unis


Let us introduce you to Robert Trempe from the United States, the CLU Foundation’s third prize ex aequo winner for his project Arctic Blossom inspired by a summer he spent in Iceland. Members of the jury were charmed by the poetic aspect of his lighted trees.

First, congratulations on winning the third prize. Tell me about yourself and your career path.

I am trained as an architect, work day to day as a professor of architecture, and spend my free-time developing projects that often blur the line between architecture, landscape architecture, industrial design, and landart.


Why did you choose to participate in the CLU Foundation Contest?

I found the brief to be an interesting challenge and one free of the over-specificities often subscribed to competitions. The ability to design, inspired by a theme rather than conscripted via a precise brief, is something you don’t often see in competitions. It provided just enough context and logic to establish a concept while still providing freedom for me to generate specificity though a set of conditions I found important. 


What did you think of this year’s theme? What do you know about the reality of living in a Nordic region?  

This year’s theme is what drew me to the competition as I am (in a very opposite way) familiar with the reality of light in a Nordic region. In the summer of 2009 I was lucky enough to live in Reykjavik as part of an artist residency. I still remember the “night” I (and others at the residency) watched the sun dip below the horizon line of the North Atlantic for the first time since we entered residency…11:55pm to be exact. I took a picture of the clock. As someone from the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, the midnight sun is something you do not witness, and something you learn to both appreciate and fear. It’s staggering to realize how much our internal clocks depend on light to understand time. It made me question how much light can affect our day to day operations.


Tell us more about your project and the inspiration behind it.

Arctic Blossom is wholeheartedly based on my experiences in Iceland. I spent a massive amount of time hiking throughout the Western Fjords, Southwestern Lava fields, and the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar). In that time, I was struck by three contrasting factors: Landscapes tend to be flat or rolling until something massive (like a volcano, active or extinct) projects straight up, trees are almost non-existent in the west (except for the ones that are imported…and they look in-and-out of place simultaneously), and even in the midst of a devoid and dead lavascape, flowers will do their best to blossom.

Arctic Blossom is inspired by these factors: It can be inserted into a flat landscape – projecting out like a landmark, it creates a canopy in the same way as a relocated-tree and with the same awkward relationship to the landscape, and it blossoms like the small flowers I found in the middle harsh lavascapes.   


How do your light trees work?

The system is quite basic: A large light at the base is connected to a series of thick fiber optic cables, with the cables splaying out as the height increases and the structure gathering the cables decreases. The cables would be coated with a brittle resin or finish that crackles and breaks under stress. So, as the cables splay outward due to their weight and lack of structure, bits of the finish fall off through the bending of the cable, revealing the light transmitted from the base in a random pattern reminiscent of holiday lights on trees.


Do you think that Nordic communities would appreciate your light trees? Why?

I don’t know. I’d like to think so. I’d like to think that these could be deployed everywhere from the sculpture & shore walk in downtown Reykjavik to Akureyri (Iceland’s second-largest urban area with a population of 17,000 or so) and everywhere between. I could envision the trees clustered together to create outdoor meeting points in remote locations, they could become landmarks for travelers and locals alike, even be employed in the most pragmatic concepts such as bus-stops and town center “pavilions.” It was my intent to design the system in such a way as to allow users to determine the function, an intentionally ambiguous system purposed by location and interest. I think it’s this lack of programmatic specificity that could become an attractor to people.


Tell us about your urban lighting vision.

I’m not really sure if I have an urban lighting vision as I think so much of any form of design is based (in large part) on the context of place. So, for me, place informs vision.


What did you learn by taking part in this contest?

I’ve learned a great deal more about fiber optic cable, and the fact that a single summer in Iceland has had a profound impact on my life.


Your proposal has a strong poetic, aesthetic proponent. How significant are simplicity and aesthetics in your other projects? 

I feel that levels of simplicity and aesthetics hand-in-hand with one another. Often the simplest ideas have a massive (and often complex) underpinning, in which case aesthetics become the method by method by which complexity is wrangled into something seemingly simple.


Where do you see yourself in the future? What would be your ideal career path?

I love being an educator. It is one of the most frustratingly rewarding experiences you can have. While you try to disassociate yourself with the work of your students, you live and die with their projects and process. And my students inspire me and fuel my own creative process. Ultimately, I would want my path to continue with an underpinning of teaching. Beyond that…who knows. Isn’t that the beauty of a creative discipline? The unknown allows for invention and reinvention as well as learning. I suppose I want my path to continue on in some way that facilitates a continual learning.




NAME OF WINNER(S) : Balazs Szilagyi

PLACE : Szombathely, Hongrie


Extreme climate challenges near the polar circle, both attracted and inspired the CLU Foundation’s 3rd prize winner from Hungary to come up with the concept for his project Spheres.

First, congratulations on winning the third prize ex æquo with your projects Spheres. Tell me about yourself and your career path.

Thank you for congratulating me on winning the prize. I’m honored.

I’ve studied mathematics, physics and architecture in Hungary, where I live. I work in architectural planning and teaching.


Why did you choose to participate in the CLU Foundation Contest?

Last year I worked on a project aimed at building houses for a region over the polar circle. Through that plan I had the opportunity to study special challenges this extreme climate offers. As that work made a big impression on me, I immediately took a liking in the assignment of this year’s CLU Foundation Contest.


What did you think of this year’s theme? What do you know about the reality of living in a Nordic region?

I’m attracted to extraordinary projects, so to me this year’s theme and projects similar to this are inspiring. They take participants on an interesting voyage of exploration. In what ways can humans become part and adjust to a world existing upon severe rules?

My project for the CLU Foundation Contest chooses the path of trying to melt into it and to become one.


Tell us more about your project Spheres and the inspiration behind it.

The setting sun, fading rays touching snowy landscape have had great effect on me since childhood, it inspires me.

What does a living creature do when it’s awfully cold, a terrible wind is blowing and it can’t see the sun? It lies low, huddles itself up, turns inwards and tries to adjust. It only looks around when and where it’s absolutely necessary.


How does your proposal work?

The lamp is part of the ground’s surface. ‘Surviving’ form adjusts to: severe climate, scattered flora and whatever built environment is present in this area. The system of earth-cables connects between the luminous points like a root system.

The caps that are opalescent in different ways and can create various lighting objectives ideal for public spaces. By replacing the caps and bulbs we can easily change the function of the lighting depending on its environment. A global cohesion can maintain this public lighting-system.

Light is emitted from beneath eye level and rays arrive at the earth-surface in large incident angles. This lamp utilizes light-reflecting and scattering ability of snow, thus light is reflected in larger portion.

With this lamp, reflected rays are spread close to the ground, and scattered light is therefore less reflected skyward, as by perpendicular lighting coming from lamp posts.

By locating these lighting system close to the road, the immediate neighborhood of the lamp is strongly lit even in foggy weather. Because of its design close to the ground, this results in a light and shade effect appropriate to low sun’s orbit characteristic for this region.


Do you think that light spheres would be a realistic solution in Northern regions? 

I believe so. That’s why I proposed it.


Tell us about your urban lighting vision.

The luminous spheres are like frozen drops of the sun. There are no overhead cables and lamp posts influencing the view of the streets. This way the effect of buildings and urban squares can truly stand out.

With the homogenous outward appearance of these lamps almost all public lighting problems can be solved and lamps become a means of organizing townscapes. According to the desired function, rays can be directed and a night-view is not only possible but optimized.

These lamps – situated on the ground (fastened if necessary) – have significant space- and traffic structuring function as well.

The fabrication of this environmentally friendly solution is simple and it is easy to maintain.


What did you learn by taking part in this contest?

In the northern regions specific built environment can be developed, which has harmonic ties to nature. Extraordinary challenges not only mean restriction but it is also a motivating force that must lead to new paths and innovation.


Your proposal has a strong poetic, aesthetic proponent. How significant are simplicity and aesthetics in your other projects?

I believe that the conceptual core of a plan is the most important part. It is where all the details are organized.  For me simplicity means expressing thoughts clearly. Aesthetic experience should be a consequence of finding the right answers to the questions stated by the assignment of planning and the place given.


Where do you see yourself in the future? What would be your ideal career path?

I see myself taking part in a lot of exciting contests, like this one for the CLU Foundation.



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