05.16.17 Metamerism and Tunable White Light

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Metamerism. The word refers to the way that colors change when viewed under different light sources. And, according to the National Lighting Bureau, it’s a phenomenon that is gaining in importance, as “tunable white light” is being used continually more to mimic indoors the effects of sunlight outdoors, changing from blue tones to red tones from morning to night, helping to sync our circadian rhythms with the time of day. However, as explained in a new article by Scott Marchio of Aztec Architects, “Nothing has inherent color. Your sweater is not red, the carpet is not green, the house is not blue; color is a perception of the eye caused by a combination of reflected and absorbed light. Variables in chemical composition cause certain wavelengths of visible light to be absorbed by a material and others to be reflected. The result is a color perceived by our eyes. If you change the type of light, the temperature of light, or the rendering capacity of light, you can change the perceived color of an object…. If the lighting in a space is no longer static, but dynamic, all the finishes in a space could potentially change over the course of the day.”

Marchio points out that, to design effectively in this new-lighting era, designers will need to know how the changes in lighting during the day affect perceived color. However, as he notes, “In reaching out to various manufacturers over the last year, I have become somewhat concerned that chemical engineers, research-and-development teams, textile designers, carpet-fiber manufacturers, pigment specialists, and all sorts of others involved with the color process seem to know very little about the science of how their products absorb or reflect light.”

While, clearly, there’s much more to be done to come to grips with new lighting technology and capabilities, when we get there, Marchio predicts, “I believe we will witness the emergence of glorious and incredible dynamic materials which will adorn every interior environment.”

Read the full article – “A Rebirth of Interior Space; Designers Wanted” – on the National Lighting Bureau website.
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The National Lighting Bureau is an independent, IRS-recognized not-for-profit, educational foundation that has served as a trusted lighting-information source since 1976. The Bureau’s services are provided to the public free of charge, thanks to the generous funding of the organization’s sponsors: professional societies, trade associations, labor unions, manufacturers, and agencies of the U.S. government, including:

Obtain more information about the Bureau by visiting its website (www.nlb.org) or by contacting its staff at info@nlb.org or 304.870.4249.



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