Light and Industry

Interview with Rolf Zavelberg

“3lux:letters: Light is a design element and sets the tone; it supports the architecture and can evoke emotions. How important is light for your work and how do you use it?

Rolf Zavelberg: I call my work “The Poetry of Light”, as I use my feeling for spaces and moods to visualize what makes a particular place or building special. My aim is to emphasize their (possibly hidden) beauty and to reveal associations for the observer that allow him scope for leisure and inspiration. To lend a presentation interest and a narrative quality I like working with sensors and light regulating equipment. The narrative element can easily be dispersed both by the client but also by visitors in the guise of a personal experience, a civic meeting or via the media. This aspect is of particular importance in Corporate Lighting.
3lux:letters: Today many former industrial complexes have been made cultural sites and staged with a striking light concept. What is your opinion of this approach to abandoned industrial monuments?

Rolf Zavelberg: The way something is realized is what is crucial: my desire is to reflect the aesthetics of the industrial architecture together with its respective history. Take for example the historical railway bridge in Wipperfürth, for which we developed a permanent installation in 2012. The light design blends harmoniously into the landscape, spotlights emphasize the steel construction and underscore its natural beauty. To ensure the spectacle is interesting but not overly colourful, the visitors movements along with data such as the position of the sun or temperature, guide the colours through a predetermined colour spectrum. These playful elements not only invite narration but also visualize motion.
3lux:letters: The requirements of modern industrial and commercial architecture have continually risen in recent times – not least in terms of illumination. Which project do you think has a particularly good lighting concept and why?

Rolf Zavelberg: New technical options are exploited to the full all too rarely. The natural daylight curve could be imitated for shift workers. Where work is completed late in the evening, it would make sense to reduce light’s blue content some time before the end of the shift. This would allow melatonin production to start earlier, which would mitigate the negative impact shift work has on the hormones. It is also possible to couple light more fittingly to work processes. This saves energy, increases attentiveness and helps avoid accidents. Installing illuminating and illuminated ceilings and adjusting light to daylight levels enhances people’s wellbeing and raises productivity.
Rolf Zavelberg,
Born 1959 in Bonn, the topic “light” has always been a key element in his life. Today, he creates unusual light presentations that communicate his personal style, his “poetry of light”. His wide range of experience covers industrial monuments (e.g., Alte Schmelz), concert buildings (Tonhalle Düsseldorf), churches (Münster in Konstanz), museums (Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn) and parks. 

In its column "LOOKED INTO" the light magazine
3lux:letters (issue 1/2014) asked three renowned
light experts three questions on the subject of
“Light and industry”. Read the interview with Rolf
Zavelberg, reproduced here with the kind permis-
sion of the publisher.

Lighting industrial monuments