Event/Workshop Report


1st IALD Japan Light Talk Salon “The future of dimming, the future of light”

The inaugural “Light Talk Salon,” previously the “IALD Japan WEBINAR,” was held on July 19th, 2023. The seminar consisted of two sessions. The first session was a discussion around “LED Dimming of Today,” and the second session was an exploration of “The Future of Dimming, the Future of Light.” Kentaro Tanaka (Amber Co., Ltd.) served as moderator. The panelists for the first session were Hirotada Takahashi (PMC Co., Ltd.) and Takahiro Nakahata (SmartLight Co. Ltd.), and Tetsuo Kobori (Tetsuo Kobori Architects), Atsushi Kodama (Kume Sekkei Co., Ltd.), and Masafumi Sekine (Nikken Sekkei Ltd.,) joined them for the second session.

Kicking off the first session, Takahashi gave a brief explanation of the history of illumination sources, outlining its origins with Edison’s incandescent bulb and subsequent introductions of new sources such as fluorescent lamps and LEDs which occurred approximately every 60 years. He described how along with the evolution of illumination sources, dimming technology has developed as well, from phase control to PWM to DALI. Takahashi also commented on DMX. “DMX was a technology originally linked to stage equipment. Now the technology is also used in domains such as offices and retail spaces, and we are in an era of comprehensive coordination of lighting, video, and sound,” he said.

Takahashi also touched upon the concept of “smart technology”, in which LEDs connect with other devices via a network. The focal point of his discussion for the day was whether these advancements in lighting and operational functionality align with the users’ needs. He said that it would be selfish of Architects & Lighting designers to put their convenience first, commenting, “If we were to say only certain manufacturers are compatible, or exclude devices manufactured overseas, that wouldn’t be truly smart [laughs]. I am committed to making efforts to develop products that are truly smart both in design and function.”

The next speaker, Nakahata opened his talk by suggesting the audience ask lighting manufacturers if their lighting fixtures are compatible with AI (artificial intelligence). Using examples like the voice assistant Alexa, the translating tool Pocketalk, and smartphone features such as facial recognition, he described how AI is integrated into our daily lives more than we realise. Until now, lighting was controlled by traditional motion and illuminance sensors, which could only detect the presence of a person or whether it was light or dark, Nakahata explained. He continued that by connecting the camera, AI, and lighting, it is now possible to identify potential issues and controlling lighting accordingly.

Nakahata also pointed to the increasing significance of the Master System Integrator which connects various designs within a project, saying that networking lighting with an array of other elements can generate unprecedented value.

The second session started by the panelists collectively addressing the question, “Do you encounter any challenges in dimming and lighting within your work?”.

Tetsuo Kobori gave his answer from his work in stage and theater lighting. “Lighting in architecture is functional, whereas with stage lighting, you are trying to highlight the beauty of the human being. This is where I think stage lighting is outstandingly superior,” he said. He shared photographs taken at his home in the countryside and on Yarigatake mountain which he climbed as a hobby, saying, “I enjoy the nuanced gradation of light. I try to replicate that in my work.” He followed, “Dimming can be cumbersome, but listening to the discussions around networking, I think it is possible to design lighting that fits with human senses.”

Kobori also explained that daylight is important in his designs. He prefers not to use downlights, and described an office he designed as an example. Instead of downlights, the office had large floodlights used on stages and task lights that could be moved around. The task lights had sockets, and Kobori shared how people with laptops would gather around them like fish being attracted to an anglerfish.

Atsushi Kodama opened his talk by introducing the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Odaiba, recounting his pioneering use in 2001 of LEDs linked with wind power generation to showcase cutting-edge science. He described the challenges he encountered, saying, “It was very tricky to showcase the beauty of the glass façade”. The moderator commented, “That was an instance where you chose blue, the color with the strongest output, and visualized the wind.” He also shared another project, an office in headquarter building with all Luminous Ceilings. The overall theme in this project was “natural light during the day, artificial light at night”. High ceilings and buffer zones (buffer areas) eliminate glare from the ceilings and windows. In an employee survey, many responded positively, saying, “I feel more energized as my circadian rhythm (biological rhythm) is better regulated,” and “It’s great how the color changes from morning light to reddish evening light.”

Masafumi Sekine touched on three topics. First, he spotlighted the innovative “PYNT” space on the second and third floors of the newly renovated Nikken Sekkei office. In this space, used to host workshops and events for external guests, the lights can be dimmed or moved around in each zone. Sekine also introduced the gender-neutral toilets where each stall is lit in a different color, allowing visitors to choose a stall that fits their mood.

The second topic was a university where lighting in the area facing the atrium changes color depending on the time of day and season. This ensures that ambiance is preserved even at lower illuminance levels.

Lastly, Sekine introduced an app named “Asapp,” developed by Nikken Sekkei. The app aims to promote decarbonization by encouraging users to optimize their behaviors, and users can track their individual carbon emissions. When the user is in a less populated area in the office, a notification is sent encouraging them to move to a floor with more people to save energy. The user is given points for following the advice and reducing CO2 emission, and accumulated points can be exchanged for a coffee in the office café.

At the end of the talk salon, all panelists shared their visions for “the future of dimming, the future of lighting”.

Nakahata advocated for horizontal connections. Takahashi aspired to design with users in mind, and not just focus on immediate tasks. Kobori stressed the need for balance between controlling light and creating an environment conducive for lighting control. Kodama championed control as a catalyst for carbon neutrality, calling for early-stage planning to achieve this goal. Finally, Sekine underscored the importance of a facility design that can adjust to the changes in how the building is used, wrapping up the event.


【Date】July 19, 2023

【Venue】Tokyo Design Center, Craftech Gallery

【Moderator】Kentaro Tanaka

【Panelists】Atsushi Kodama, Tetsuo Kobori, Masafumi Sekine,      Hirotada Takahashi, Takahiro Nakahata

【Organizer】IALD Japan