“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, and it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”
Lighting makes or breaks the ambiance. Bad lighting can do some very serious damage to the aesthetics of an architectural space. A beautiful lobby can look ugly because of bad lighting and on the other hand, a drab and dull property can be made to look desirable and efficient with quality lighting.
Lighting design was a very expensive affair until the early 1900’s. An empirical view of design costs in lighting over the last 700 years show a 12,000-fold decline in the price of a truly important service. The advent of LEDs show a 100 fold reduction and automated IoT lighting design techniques have brought in another 50 fold reduction in lighting prices. How did this all happen? How is it that what was one day, only a rich man’s privilege today a common man’s need? The answer lies in automation, scalability and durability.
The middle ages were a period of darkness and despair; an era that watched the foundation values and innovations of the Roman Empire crumble and turn into dust as the rich grew richer and the poor became poorer. Tallow candles, produced from the fat of mutton were the available source of artificial light. The price of candles were high compared the low income of the people and this meant that candles were unaffordable for most. Therefore, most people lived in near complete darkness.
It was not until the early 19th century that the transition from candles to coal gas began. The transition happened so rapidly, that by the mid-19th century it was concluded. These gas lamps were cheaper, were twice as efficient as candles and did not emit foul odor. In addition they also reduced the risk of fires. They were replaced by kerosene lamps in a few decades, primarily since gas lamps required installation of gas pipelines while kerosene lamps did not. This particularly benefited the poorer households. The tides began to turn and lighting slowly began to transition from an item of luxury to a household need.