Chapel Lane

Let there be LIGHT

Jenna Elsby

I always say a memorable event or occasion is the sum of a thousand small gestures (I heard it somewhere and I'm taking it as my own), and it really is so true. It doesn't just apply to events either, at the moment I'm at the tail end of a major house rebuild and renovation. We're at the dressing stage where every single design decision made will impact upon the overall feel of the space. I'm relishing the project - but it is an all-consuming, and at times, daunting task. Like with any creative work nothing is ever black and white but a thousand shades of grey with endless possibilities. So whether I'm tasked with delivering an event or as I currently am, b@lls deep in home design, I go back to basics and consider the fundamentals of great space design and the human senses - light, smell, sound and touch. These can of course be split into countless sub-categories (texture, tone, colour, height etc), but at least you have some clarity and a starting point.

That said, when I started out in my events career, I worked for a man who was undoubtedly a visionary (albeit a bit of an arrogant, short-tempered one) and an absolute tyrant for the small details. He had been known to show up to an event five minutes before guests were due to arrive and decide to change the entire floral concept at a moment's notice, or swap out everything red for blue. He was enough to turn all those around him (myself included) into self-doubting, bumbling idiots and for that I will never forgive him. In turn, he did make me incredibly meticulous also, so for that I will always be grateful.  One thing that he was particularly fastidious about was lighting, and I 100% agree with him on that one.

There is nothing worse than going for a drink at a bar that is so brightly lit that it feels like midday at 9pm. It's like that moment at the end of the school disco when the lights go up and you realise that the boy you have been slow dancing with looks more like Screech from Saved by the Bell than Leo in Romeo & Juliet. Major buzz kill.  Conversely there is a famous restaurant in Sydney that is so poorly lit it's like going caving instead of out for dinner. I literally had to use my phone to shed light on the menu and even then it was like a Russian roulette as to what actually turned up. So you see, lighting is of the utmost importance to set mood and tone. As the Goldilocks of light might say, not too bright, not too dim, just right. I also recommend creating pockets of light to create depth and focal points, depending on the use of the space. In my home I have a combination of wall lighting, pendant lighting, spot lighting and the trusty table lamp so that I can isolate space depending on the occasion.  This also provides light at different heights, which again creates areas of interest in an otherwise large expanse of space.

Next time you're out to dinner take note of the lighting situation and how is influences your overall experience...if I ruin dining out for you from hereon in, I humbly apologise, but if I open your eyes to a world of lighting possibilities - you're so very welcome.