“Beyond the light, we see shadow.”

An Interview With Ben Lin, the Founder of Concept Lighting Design Consultants(CLDC)

3 people with each perspective, the different backgrounds generate their individual creativity. The one thing they have in common is that they all hold the persistence in the vision of a better life. 

We take this opportunity to ask these our friends a few questions, and how they think about light associating with their professionals.

Beautiful lighting can absolutely enrich your life. Besides the physical presence of the design, the other part is something intangible that we pursue with a thought-provoking poetic touch. Ben Lin, a designer and the founder of CLDC, is a poet of light. This interview will explore Ben’s creative philosophy in depth.

“I wanted to study stage design when I entered the Taipei National University of the Arts, but then I decided to study lighting design for theater in my third year.” Ben, a lighting designer with a theater background, shared the valuable lessons he learned in theater in the past. Almost everything is treated as a whole in theater, and everyone has a part to play. The creation of art is an expression of emotions, but it also requires rational thinking. This is why everyone practices listening and organizing information and then analyzing it to develop the main concept of the production, finally presenting the show before an audience.

From theater to architecture

Ben once thought that theater and architectural lighting did not have much in common. It was not until recent years that he realized the two are very similar. Most of his methods of operation have roots in the training he received back then. Interestingly, Ben started to discover that the styling of space is the same as that of theater: both are “art of time.”  

Ben mentioned that many spatial designs nowadays have a storyline similar to a script. The style of the space is like the rhetoric of characters in a play. In theater, the clothing, sound effects, and background music are a snapshot of the visual characteristics of a certain era. “So, when people walk into a space, I wish the lighting is not the only thing that captures their attention because I think it is only one component of design. Instead, I hope people can feel the narrative context of the overall space.”

Do the research before you begin

Theater in its entirety is deeply entrenched in Ben’s perception. For example, theater companies will gather information about venues before putting on a new show. Ben does the same before taking on a design job. He will gather all the information about the site of the project and client demands, finding out as much as he can on a macro and micro level. This is how to start the execution precisely to propose the best solution that meets the project requirements and environmental context. 

“Take the façade of a building as an example. If time allows, I will survey the site from sunset to late at night. I need to first analyze and define the architectural language of the façade designs that may be different even for buildings of the same size.” This is because Ben believes there should be a story and context for every expression of light at night. There is only one piece of land. If every project looks the same, why go to a lighting designer?

The most important foil in a space

“Lighting only serves as a foil. But is it important? Sometimes, it is.” 

Ben described his perspective using a metaphor: Lighting is fluid, and every individual space is a container. Different containers and the fluids inside will give the user a completely different experience. “Whenever I walk into a new space, I ask myself: ‘What is the theme? What is the storyline? What atmosphere should we create?’” If we are talking about a large urban landscape, lighting is what sews the spaces together. It scatters across the city, and the elements of different times and spaces mesh with people from different places in the lighting. But if it is a smaller indoor environment, lighting is definitely the best catalyst. With the right light to shadow ratio, people will gather in one area, creating invisible divisions in the space. 

We want buildings to illuminate themselves at night, not just be lit by lights. The spatiality and depth of field of such illumination are even more profound and enchanting. ”

Lighting is designed for our needs

Throughout history, light has given us a sense of peace and warmth. From candlelight, light bulbs to LED lights, our need for light has never changed. We went from demanding brightness to energy efficiency, and now we explore the atmosphere of lighting. The world is ever-changing, but at the end of the day, all of the developments are in response to our needs and spatial requirements, providing emotional comfort.

As a lighting designer, Ben suggests that bright lighting at home is not necessary except for when you are awake or working. A certain amount of darkness will actually be more therapeutic. He also responded to common misconceptions about lighting: Reduce the use of recessed lighting and indirect lighting, add lighting from different directions instead of having only downlights, choose lamps with adjustable brightness, and you will have a variety of lighting expressions at home.

In addition, Ben thinks the selection of “surface materials for lamps” is very interesting. To have good lighting, besides the lighting quality, you can also select surface materials that match the characteristics of the interior space. For example, lamps with a mirrored metal or glass surface reflect the life of the people in the space, which will enrich and liven up the space.

The essence of the space stems from the shadow

Ben’s works are rooted in arts and humanities. The ambiguous poetic hints weaved into everyday life allow the lighting to permeate the user’s daily routines, maintaining a dynamic fluid movement. He said: “Lighting design is not just for illumination. In most of my works, I focus on the relationship between people and the connection between people and the environment through the arrangement of light and shadow. The best method is to blend the features of the space with lighting and create focal points using lighting so people can be absorbed in the atmosphere right away; it gives a sense of comfort that is hard to describe.”

Ten years ago, it was all about seeing the light but not the source. Fast forward to today, Ben takes this to the next level: see the shadow but not the light. “Light” is essential, but designs that are too bright or flat cannot portray the concaves and details of materials, which is why Ben wants to see some more shadow in lighting arrangements. 

“ After all, where is the soul in a space without shadow? ”

Q & A

Which of SEED’s lamps is your favorite?

I really like the lamp “Castle.” It shows different lighting in the morning and at night. The material is unique, and it is compatible with any space. Another lamp that I like is “Wanu.” The ingenious combination of the glass ball and the arc clearly defines the light and shadow. When you squint, the lit ball looks like it is floating in mid-air.


How do you use lighting to create different moods at home?

I installed a lighting control system and combined multiple switch circuits to try out different lighting expressions. Try not to only pay attention to the recessed light on the ceiling. If you can look beyond that, you will feel more alive and relaxed.

There has been an increasing number of exhibitions of lighting design combined with installation art in recent years. What do you think about this?

Lighting is a tool often used in installation art. In the last century, people used pure light sources or special lamps to enhance installation art. But the limitations of conventional light sources and lamp size hindered the process of creation. However, LED developments in recent years have opened up new possibilities for many designers. I believe it is necessary to try new things because that is how to think outside the characteristics of the materials. Through projection and integration with multimedia, the connotation of the overall atmosphere and illuminance has indeed become more sophisticated.

 What do you think are the future trends of home lighting?

Long-term care will definitely be a trend. Anyone who gets up to go to the bathroom at night needs to turn on the light, not just the elderly. Many studies have shown that low-level and low-color-temperature light sources can help people stay asleep. So, we can think about long-term care in another way, which is preparing a comfortable home lighting environment in advance. When we grow old and require long-term care ourselves, we would already be accustomed to our own home lighting environment. A comfortable home lighting environment is a part of our lives and has a huge impact in many ways.

CLDC Official Website : https://www.conceptldc.com/en/