Flip the Switch: Bring Your House to Life
We all understand the way a light switch works. In the upright position the switch is on, in the downward position the switch is off. It’s a straightforward design, as all design should be, but It’s also a little boring and mediocre. Why don’t the switches in our interiors reflect the technology we have today? There’s more than one way to light a room.
An old light switch can really make a room look outdated. And yes, for the skeptical reader, people do pay attention to light witches. Remember the off-white light switch with its print-smudged, mysterious dirt-flecked plate? Did you want to touch it? No, no you didn’t. If you’re not willing to turn on the lights because the switch is questionable, chances are you’re not making much use of that room after dark.
We take so much pride in the look and feel of our home that we forget what we use to power it up, electricity yes, but switches too. So dump that old cracked and yellowing plate and replace it with a clean, modern plate or dimmer. It was Don Norman who said, “it is not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and, yes, beauty to people’s lives.”
Below are three designer lighting brands that have it figured out, producing superb designs for the modern home over and over.
Lutron holds itself to five principles in lighting design. The top two are: taking care of people and transforming product design. This is every good designer’s code of ethics; design is for people. Back in the late 1950s company founder Joel Spira wanted to develop a permanent device that would give people a choice between dimmed or bright lights. The solid-state dimmer was born.
In exchanging the standard light switch with a solid-state dimmer, people were able to control the amount of artificial light used to light up a room. With more lighting options came better lighting design. Perhaps the most common dimmer switch found in the home today is Lutron’s Skylark Incandescent Light Dimmer. The switch has two buttons, one to turn the light on and the other to control brightness. Like the traditional light switch, for bright light you move the switch upwards, and for dimmer light you move the switch downwards. The ON/OFF switch is centered directly below the dimmer, making it impossible to forget to turn the light off. With such straightforward design, Lutron holds up to their promise.
With a focus on intelligent building technology (think Internet of Things), Gira designs solid-state devices for home technology, including music control, door communication, as well as energy and light control. Gira believes that in combining all of these functions into one standardized device, all your home needs will be met.
Founded in 1905 with the invention of the toggle switch, Gira has continued to push design boundaries in the home. Gira’s Push Botton Sensor 3 Basic controls blind control, dimming and switching. Users can shift from ambient to task lighting with the simple press of a button. Each button on the pad is labeled for use with lighting displays that highlight your options and help you navigate the system with ease.
The central theme of Legrand is sustainability. A member of the U.S. Green Building Council, Legrand specializes in designing lighting control systems that helps users save energy and do their part for the planet.
At its inception in 1865, Legrand was a porcelain tableware workshop. By 1919, company partner Jean Mondot introduced light switches made from boxwood and porcelain, commencing Legrand’s foray into lighting design. Today, Legrand’s ‘Legrand Adorne’ line concentrates on the unobtrusive, plumb dimmer. The SofTap SinglePole/3Way TruUniverseral Dimmer (yes, that is the name of the switch) functions much as a smart phone or tablet does with users controlling lighting levels with just a tap of the finger. Compatible with MLV, fluorescent, and halogen lighting, you won’t have to worry about flickering lights ever again.
Think of the lighting plates and dimmers as part of the décor in a room. If it doesn’t fit, the room doesn’t work. Don’t fall into yesteryear’s design trappings!