Fashion, design and lighting are combined in the design experience of Carmen Ferrara, interviewed by Otomo as spokesperson for a contemporary well-being concept: designing with light and IoT.


Where does your design sensitivity for light come from?
I have always had close ties to the world of fashion, designing sets for fashions shows. In this setting, light takes centre stage and the light designer is a very important figure, even more than the set designer. I have taken this experience on board and applied it to other settings in the residential sector and the office world.

How has the designer’s approach to the lighting sector changed?
Up until ten to fifteen years ago, the project was based exclusively around the architectural and design aspects. Light was secondary, it came afterwards, there were no studies on either artificial or natural lighting. Light took the form of a central ceiling fixture and perhaps a floor or desk lamp. Now, we start thinking about how to naturally and artificially light rooms right from the demolition and building phase.
Now, we still design with decorative and designer light fixtures, but architectural lighting and artificial intelligence and the new frontier of automation have also come to the forefront. The gap between architects and engineers has narrowed and we professionals are increasingly looking for support from companies like Eelectron which also add aesthetic appeal to technological products, in addition to offering technical expertise.

Bluetooth technology is developing fast. What are the limits of a wireless system compared to a cabled one?
Some difficulties may arise if you don’t have fast connections and it isn’t always possible to apply the IoT design to the customer’s full satisfaction because not all areas are best served by fibre optics.
We can, however, achieve fantastic results if there are no connection problems.
The end user experiences the rooms in a different way and the experience is heightened compared to a simple on-off switch scenario, so the result is an improvement in the quality of life.

“My design allows the end customer to play with light on an architectural level”.

What are the benefits of an automation system?
All you have to do is think about how many and the type of scenarios we can control, even remotely. For example, you can dim the light, change its temperature, switch from a warm light of 2500° Kelvin to a cold light of 3500° or 4000° depending on whether you are having dinner with friends or working at your computer. The end user gets pleasure and personal satisfaction from it. It changes the way you live and once you have tried it, there is no going back.

Light is important in the home, but studying it is essential in the office environment.
Absolutely. We spend a lot of our time in the office where artificial light is commonly used. Lighting in this environment set a stiff challenge for professionals like us with the goal of ensuring that everyone can see well. Help also comes from the regulations that establish the quality and quantity of light for the workplace.
Unfortunately, there are still many work places with inadequate lighting. There’s a lot to do in the field of restructuring.

What motivates business owners to invest in office automation?
There are an increasing number of customers who are embracing technology and actively asking for it. Today, it is about one in five. The reasons are mainly economic: business owners consider installing automation devices in their offices first and foremost because it enables them to control energy costs. Only a very few view it from the standpoint of well-being and worker comfort. We think, however, that a worker who is at ease also works better and is more productive.


We perceive reality thanks to light.

And what puts them off?
Undoubtedly the expense, even though it has a minimum impact on the overall cost of a project and is repaid in a very short time. Even if it is a rather complicated calculation because each project has a life of its own, you can factor in an additional five percent. But the benefits are plain to see.

To what extent does light influence the nervous system?
Light is everything. And it is thanks to light that we perceive reality and colours exist only because light exists. Imagine living in a world of black and white; how depressing. When the sun is out, we feel instantly better.
In our latitude, it is light that tells us when it is daytime or night-time and we are used to doing certain activities based on the light, like getting up in the morning or going to bed. And it is essential to have the type of light in the office that is in harmony with natural light so, that it changes as the day goes by, rather than being constant all day long. The wrong lighting is seen negatively and affects your mood.

How do you see the future of office design in terms of lighting?
We have transitioned from using almost exclusively neon light to cold LED light with the option of being able to change the colour temperature. The last frontier is the artificial reproduction of natural light, in line with human bio rhythms. All this is made possible by technology and artificial intelligence. As architects, we have been proposing this for a couple of years, but it still represents a major innovation for the market. An example of IoT application in the lighting sector and elsewhere, is the OTOMO system which guarantees controlled lighting according to circadian rhythms, thanks to interaction with two smart lights, Jackie and Giano, produced by Panzeri, using software that is easy to manage and hardware with an understated design.
OTOMO was presented by Eelectron, a visionary company always one step ahead, a source of inspiration for professionals like us as well, who can, with their support, offer our customers something extra. This system will bring a mini revolution to the office panorama. It will provide pleasant lighting that is ideal at all times, no matter what work you are doing, whether in front of the computer or a drawing pad, a notebook or doing manual work. It will make you forget the old systems and there will be no going back.

carmen ferrara

Carmen Ferrara

Carmen was born in Milan where she currently lives and works. In 1992, she graduated in architecture from the Politecnico di Milano and in the same year, she joined the team of the firm run by the architect, Marco Piva, where she honed her skills in trade fair and museum layouts.
In 1995, she won the Compass d’oro in the young designers’ section with the design for a video cell phone presented in an exhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan in the same year.
She continued her training in companies specialising in trade fair layouts, temporary architectures and set designs for Milan fashion shows.
From 2002 onwards, she has taken her first steps as a freelance designer, opening the Idesign studio in Milan. This has led to a successful collaboration with companies in the lighting sector, such as Leucos, Studio Italia Design, Panzeri for which she is also artistic director; Irsap, Rhoss and Atisa in the air conditioning sector.
In recent years, Carmen has worked with major brands in the fashion world and has built up concrete experience in the conception, engineering and construction supervision of Milanese catwalks.
She is currently working on the design of lights for companies such as Leucos and Panzeri, as well as cultivating her passion for temporary architecture.
In 2015, a special edition of Class placed the “Carmen” light designed for Panzeri among the best 100 Italian design products. In 2019, the “Al decimo” light won several prizes: the Light Middle East Awards in Dubai, Archiproduct Design Awards, German Design Award, Red Dot Award honourable mention Adi Design Index Selection, Eccellenza della Lombardia Adi Design.

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