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  • Evening in Repose: The Elegance of Soft Lighting

    A forceful gale bellows outside my residence. The children and house staff have retired to their quarters. I am settled on the sofa in the drawing room, illuminated by an individual candle flame, reading Immanuel Kant’s, Critique of Pure Reason. Kant’s provocative ideation and what I consider to be elegant lighting, shape an impeccable mise-en-scéne for a transcendent evening. Hence, I have decided to take this occasion to share with you my inspiration and criterion for impressive lighting. You too may benefit from luxurious light in your home. 

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    "There are two kinds of light - the glow that illuminates and the glare that obscures."
         ― J A M E S  T H U R B E R, Author.

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    Architectural Lighting Designer, Evelyn M.E. Pirs, obtained her Master of Fine Arts from Goldsmiths College in London. With 17 years in composing dynamic visual environments inspired by recollections of the sun dappled battlefields of the First Defenestration of Prague, Pirs has designed lighting for Lord and Lady Astor’s château —including their canine, Bromley's, three chamber loft, and Prince Pierre Casiraghi’s quaint 45,000 square-foot ski chalet, along with his private implanted rainforest. Her latest venture is shaping the lighting at London’s exclusive club, 5 Hertford Street, to evoke a sense of faith in one’s latent dreams. 

    Evelyn M.E. Pirs wearing a beloved headpiece worn by Edwardian actor, Guillame Simone, in his play, Le Lapin L'Entrecôte, 1906.

    “How must the light feel?” Pirs asks when considering a room. Her thesis-turned-book, Mastering the Sun: Harnessing Rays Into All Matters of Space, is the uncontested authority in lighting design. Her advice in moulding relaxing environments seems simple, yet powerful. “It’s imperative to utilize warm color temperature light sources which mimic the glow of candle light or the setting sun over the timbers of the hinterlands,” Pirs says. “Never accept color temperatures that exceed a dimmable halogen of 2700 Kelvin. It’s important that the light source and its enclosure cast a soft, diffuse light from a low level local source, such as a Marianne Brandt table lamp. If you can see any objects adjacent to your nearest position, the lighting is too bright.”

    Pirs deems over-lighting the home as brutal and vulgar. “Many a time, when walking into severely lit spaces, my first thought is, ‘Where are my sunglasses?’” She continues, “Most people don’t comprehend the grace of soft lighting. Everyone appears better in a rosy glow, even those of your friends who are less-fortunate looking. But it's not all about looks," Pirs maintains. “When reading for instance, your mind is able to focus more on the words if you lightly squint. Reading should always be done only by the light of the setting sun, or by a single candle, carefully inserted into a proper mid century teak, stone or Victorian brass candle holder.” 

    "A word to the wise," Pirs says, warning against the trend in LED lighting, “If LEDs are not of superb quality, it is likely they will not render colors properly. And no one wants to see their Rothko under unacceptable lighting!”
    “One must snuff the light of the candle in a single calming breath, as the French did in the days of Gaul.”
    Pirs respects tradition when it comes to illumination. She recounts that light should be treated with admiration and reverence. She cites renowned Edwardian thespian, Guillame Simone, who remarked after performing his gripping monologue, Objects Not Removed: “One must snuff the light of the candle in a single calming breath, as the French did in the days of Gaul.” Pirs notes, “Guillame understood that there is life in fire and light. He felt that his ceremonious treatment of flame prevented him from contracting the maladies of his age, although he eventually succumbed to tuberculosis in 1912.”