Lighting Designer Arturo Álvarez Explores New Horizons with his Cutting-Edge Creations

Arturo Álvarez redefines lighting desgin in his studio.

In 1994, lighting designer Arturo Álvarez founded his eponymous company to bring together ideas and innovations of the industry’s top talents. In the past 20 years, the brand has recieved numerous industry awards. Continuing to rethink the role of lighting, Álvarez lets us peek behind the curtain to his process and inspiration.  

Arturo Alvarez's Simetech® Luisa pendant is available through interieurs.com. What first interested you in lighting design?
It was a bit of a coincidence. Lighting is a form of expression like many others. When I began working in this field, I became interested in aspects including brightness and texture. I like adding a formal aesthetic to the play of light and shadow in order to create different settings.   

Being based in A Coruña, how does the culture and architecture of Spain influence your work?
I get inspiration from my region, which is on the Atlantic. The sea, the intense green forests, the rainy lansdscapes where light and shadows are always present. And of course, the whole country’s architectural and cultural richness is a source of inspiration. I’m very interested in Antoni Gaudi’s work, in his great open-mindedness when it comes to connecting different trades with his ideas and finding a way to carry them out.  

You’ve received many industry awards. How do you keep pushing the envelope?
Awards are always an incentive, and they acknowledge many years of intense work. I really appreciate them, but the main thing for me is to carry on investigating and exploring every day, and to continue connecting with the public.  

Your work is often sculptural. How do you balance function and aesthetics?
In lighting, function comes first. However, in my case, aesthetics are gaining importance. I guess, I’m making use of lighting to express other things or awaken certain feelings and sensations. But, of course, I never leave function behind. I keep searching for the best and most appropriate light sources for each individual design.  

Tell me about Simetech®. What does this material allow you to create?
Simetech® is the outcome of two years of research and development. We finally obtained a moldable material that permits many textures and forms. It is washable, and you can achieve different intensities of brightness depending on how you work it. I find it extraordinary—a material with infinite possibilities.  

LEDs have a reputation for being harsh, but your fixtures emit soft light. How do you achieve this?
Designing decorative lamps with LED technology is a great challenge, for what you have just mentioned. I try to take advantage of all the benefits of LEDs while adapting them to a handmade emotional design. It is all about playing with the form and warm-light LEDs.  

What is the meaning behind “emotional light”?
For me, it is enjoying a certain space, a lamp that goes beyond functionality and awakens positive feelings and sensations of well-being.  What elements bring a piece to life? The expression of light comes from the combination of handmade production—in which every piece is different and has its small touches—the formal design and the light itself, how it is filtered and faded depending on the design.   

What period of architecture inspires you?
All of them. You can extract inspiring elements from any period. I personally like ground-breaking periods, moments in which a mixture of things coexist, with freethinking and no limitations.

A version of this article appeared in the October 2015 issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Chiaroscuro.