The Next Big Thing in Light Art: Installations

  • August 24, 2015
  • Author: Haley Darst

What do you get when you mix interactive light art, live music, light-up swings, food trucks, and a beer hall? The Lawn on D in Boston, of course!

The Lawn on D is an interactive outdoor landscape that brings the diverse communities of Boston together for a variety of community and social events – and recently lighting on The Lawn has been center stage. The space itself is 2.7 acres in the heart of the Innovation district and South Boston neighborhood. They have paved walkways, picnic tables, a 5000 square foot tent (with a bar), ping pong tables, and corn-hole boards, allowing residents and visitors an escape within the city to spend time with friends and family.


A couple groups of CannonDesigners have ventured over to The Lawn on several recent occasions to check out the recent interactive light art installations.

One of the most popular exhibits at The Lawn was Pentalum. Created by Architects of Air (UK based design group), the structure was geometric in form, almost like giant origami. It was very similar to an adult version of a playplace, as you could go inside and explore the structure. The sun shone through translucent colored panels while the opaque panels were coated with a reflective film. The result was an ethereal and surreal maze where color theory ruled. It was a really neat experience, and our group caught some interesting photos…


About a month later an additional lighting related installation made it’s way to the Lawn on D. In all there were a total of 5 bunnies that were as high as two stories tall. The installation named “Interlude” was the vision of Australian artist Amanda Parer. During the day these oversized bunnies are a spectacle in themselves in but in the evening they are lit by LED flood lights from within creating a beautiful and slightly eerie glow against the dark night sky.

Both of these temporary installations were adjacent to a more permanent exhibit – solar and kinetically powered LED swings! The unique forms are outfitted with integral color-changing LED modules which switch between blue and green, depending on swing speed.  In operation since last September, the swings are a popular attraction day and night.

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While these installations aren’t directly linked with the celebration of the International Year of Light 2015, night-time light+art exhibits seem to be popping up all over major cities. And Boston isn’t the only CannonDesign city with cool light art: Chicago will be installing a light installation project this fall, beautifying the “L” and boosting civic pride on Wabash Avenue. Check out the video here!

-The LightingStudio

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Meet the Lighting Designers

  • April 16, 2015
  • Author: Haley Darst



Light has the power to directly and deeply impact experience. Light critically influences atmosphere, enjoyment, health and productivity – not to mention energy consumption. Our CannonDesign lighting team includes very passionate designers that are committed to finding the best lighting design solutions for their clients. We wanted to do a quick Q&A to introduce our lighting design team!

CannonDesign’s Lighting Studio currently has five members across three offices: Three of us in Boston (Sara Schonour, Kate St Laurent, and Haley Darst), one in Chicago (Raisa Shigol) and one in Buffalo (Ray Soto).  With various backgrounds and many years of combined experience, each member brings our own unique approach to the lighting design profession. If you want to know more, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Q:  How did you become an architectural lighting designer?

Kate:  “I completely fell into lighting design after completing my Masters in Interior Design.  I thought it would be a good learning experience, but quickly found that it appealed to my love of puzzles and math problems.  It is a perfect mix of creativity and analytics.”

Haley:  “I originally thought I wanted to become a civil engineer in high school because I excelled in math and science courses and was interested in designing   bridges. After briefly speaking with a professor in college about my love and appreciation for architecture, he suggested I look into the lighting design option within the architectural engineering major. Through coursework and internships in school, I quickly discovered the impact of light on the architectural environment. I realized I wanted to help cultivate these spaces that people play, live, and work in everyday.”

Q:  What fascinates you about light?

Sara:  “What doesn’t? Great lighting is like magic. It brings things…people and spaces…to life. And we’re just beginning to learn how many ways we can create it, how many ways we can use it, how many ways we’re affected by it. Light is more ancient than we are, but the more we understand it, the more we are reinventing and redefining it every day. There will never be a shortage of things to know about light and how we experience it.”

Kate:  “I love looking at light in the built environment.  Simply put- without light we would not be able to see our designs.  When I walk into a new place I look up, under, around and inside any architectural detail that I see lighting coming from.  I look with a critical eye and find lessons in the beautiful applications as well as those that fall flat.”

Q:  How has lighting design changed since you first started working?

Ray: “It’s now all about energy.  When I first started designing in lighting, neither the cost of energy, nor the amount of energy consumed by lighting was a big concern.  We used more incandescent lighting then, and luminous ceilings were very popular.  And, our light source choices were fewer then.  I think the concept of lighting design is still the same, it’s just that we have many more tools at our disposal these days, and our thought process lingers more on the energy side than ever before.”

Raisa:  “The lighting industry has changed drastically since I started working, starting with former cutting edge technologies – compact fluorescent, ceramic metal halide, halogen, T5 and T5HO –  and now to LED, automatic lighting controls, energy codes, LPD, LEED- you name it.  These terms were not even in engineering vocabulary yet.  But what has never changed is what role the lighting has played in people and buildings, how powerful lighting is in creating certain moods and atmospheres in a space.”

Q:  What is the most misunderstood aspect of lighting design?

Sara:  “Lighting doesn’t really do anything by itself. It’s only experienced in context with other surfaces and materials. Great lighting is really just a myth.  There’s really only great reflections and interesting interactions of light…with something else. It underscores why lighting isn’t something that can be ‘layered’ into design in the same way engineering or sustainability can’t just be popped in. Great lighting only happens when the effect of light is considered an integral design driver.”

Ray:  “I think the most misunderstood aspect of lighting design is the ‘design’ component.  Most people think lighting design is ‘fixture picking.’  They forget that there’s both science and art associated with good lighting design. Above and beyond the raw ‘numbers’ (i.e. footcandles, watts per sq. ft., lumens, etc.), there are choices that need to be made with respect to budgets, legislation, and of course appropriateness of providing the right lighting solution for the space.  It’s about helping to create an atmosphere in concert with the design team.”

Q:  What is your favorite project you worked on and why?

Raisa: “The best projects are those when the client is happy.  I have worked on so many different projects (schools, universities, offices, headquarters, hospitals, exterior landscapes, parking, etc), and each one leaves a mark in my memory.”

Haley:  “There are many aspects of each project I’ve worked on that are truly unique and special.    However, if I had to pick one stand-out project, the UC Riverside Student Recreation Center would be my top pick.  This was the first project I ever worked on at CannonDesign from schematic through CA.  The lighting design included custom solutions, seamless integration with the architecture, and highly efficient sources and robust lighting controls strategies to aid with aggressive energy targets and requirements in California.”