A perfect home is perfectly lit
for every occasion. Or is it?
Houm is the market leader providing innovative solutions to controlling your home's lighting, sensors and motorized blinds and curtains – with just one click. Houm allows you to take control of the health and mood of your home. Make your home personalized and modern with the help of Houm solutions.
An interview with Markku Varsila from iGuzzini Finland & Baltic Oy
Markku Varsila, you are Finland’s leading lighting expert – how important is lighting in a home?
Lighting could be compared to a living room where several types of activities take place. Children play games on the floor, someone reads on the couch and another person vacuums. The amount of light that is needed for all these activities to take place varies and if those conditions are not properly thought out, carrying them out will become difficult. One simply cannot clean or read in the dark – let alone play games.
In addition to this, staircases are often poorly lit which becomes a risk of injury. Lighting enables living, safety and comfort. It simply improves the quality of life!
What should everyone keep in mind when it comes to home lighting?
In our homes we often forget about the amount of light. Luminaires are often considered through aesthetics and what it looks like, not how much light it gives. Our homes are often too dark even though we are using the same pair of eyes as in our work places. Children’s eyes are particularly strained at home.
Every home should have a minimum of two lighting moods installed: one for more ambient activities such as socialising and a more efficient setup for studying, cleaning and children’s play. This is the absolute minimum for lighting control at home.
Home installation of lighting control makes this simple. A dimmable lighting control system is preferred. A proper control system allows for the setting of various moods which fit all the circumstances of a home.
A good idea is to also increase the amount of luminaires and that does not have to be expensive.
Lighting that can't be controlled is the equivalent of a car that only goes 50 km per hour. Or doesn't go at all. Who would want to buy that?
What about property development, any tips?
The biggest mistake is to not install enough sockets. The norm in Finland is to mount a switch box to a ceiling – with a single light fixture hanging off it. This is a problem specific to civil engineering. Each builder and contractor should remember that light increases comfort and thought that the use of the space. With more light the space becomes functional, flexible and at the same time, aesthetic.
Lighting can even be used to save energy and money.
When should a professional lighting designer be brought in?
Without a doubt in the building phase. The baseline is unfortunately that when it comes to lighting, the level of knowledge is low. Today colossal mistakes happen rarely – but they still happen because lighting design involves so many aspect from aesthetics and technology to installation and engineering know-how.
Turning to a professional designer means that everyone will become aware of what is possible in their own space. Nowadays it is common for people to invest as much as half a million euros into a building project which obligates us to think how the investment will best be disclosed.
Changing of a lighting plan is hard and expensive, particularly when done afterwards. Much can however be done through the installation of lighting control systems, particularly since the constraints of electrical installation have lately been mitigated in Finland.
What should be kept in mind when designing lighting?
A simple example is the bedroom. Commonly the light switch is installed next to the door. Not where the bed is even though that is where you would really need it.
In Finland we also often speak of luminaires, not lighting. Lighting is discussed from either an interior decorator or architect’s view. For an interior decorator a luminaire is a physical object which has a purely aesthetic role. An architect on the other hand will try and hide the source of light so that light only shines through a hole in the space.
Overall, people do not even know what is possible when designing lighting. You need the help of a professional. More information can be obtained from the Illuminating Engineering Society of Finland or the Valo-magazine.
Let’s discuss details of lighting a bit more. Why is it important to be able to control light?
Lighting that can’t be controlled is the equivalent of a car that only goes 50 km per hour. Or doesn’t go at all. Who would want to buy that? The ability to control light makes it purposeful.
What about dimmable light?
There are three great reasons for dimming. A functional reason to dim would be to allow children to do homework in a better setting, an energy efficient would be to dim in order to save energy and finally, a reason to dim would be to create a more aesthetically pleasant mood. Particularly in the public sector lights are dimmed in order to find moods that fit the environment.
In Finland the natural light in the winter tends to be cold while autumn light is made up of warm tones. Also the amount of light should be taken into consideration since it is strongly linked with human physiology. We as humans biologically like prefer to wake up colder tones while warmer hues allow the body to go into rest. It has been clinically proven that if enough blue light is reflected into the eye, our level of vitality will increase because the amount of melatonin will decrease while the level of cortisol hormone will rise. This would be particularly good for people working night shifts.
Tell us about Houm.
Houm enables dimming of lights in an elegant way – particularly compared to the cheaper options on the market such as those from IKEA, for example. The Houm system is flexible and easy to install, particularly in the building and renovation phase. The advantages of Houm are the easy to use interfaces and integration with Amazon Echo.
I work with Houm because the solutions are innovative. The guys behind the company are open-minded and completely unreliant on old solutions. They genuinely bring something new into the field of lighting!
What makes Houm solutions supreme?
The easy to use system. It can be used on mobile devices and with mobile switches. Using Houm does not require for you to be a professional. It can be installed and programmed on one’s own. Lighting moods, controls and changes to the schemes can be made without anyone else involved.
This to me is groundbreaking. Because when it comes to technology, if something is too hard to use then we won’t. However much we spent on it! Houm enables maximal use of a simple system. The software evolves constantly and the threshold of getting involved is low.
Houm faces challenges bravely and has a nimble way of developing brand new solutions to problems. In the field of lighting that is truly refreshing.
What are the upcoming lighting trends for 2018?
We are currently using new definitions for the amount of lighting. Lights are arranged into ranges which fit everyone, not just a specific amount which accommodates a pair of healthy, normal eyes. This to me is good quality design.
Also lighting controls and systems which converse with each other rather than work as standalone systems. This is the future of lighting that Houm is proudly making.
Markku Varsila is Finland's leading expert in the field of lighting and lighting design. Markku holds positions as the head of marketing in iGuzzini Finland and Baltic Oy and deputy member of the board of directors for the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) of Finland. He is also an editor of Valo-magazine.