Design Collaborative: The Power of Light

April 21, 2009

Carnegie’s Dance of Light reflects the importance of light and its contribution to the healing process.

Light; it can alter our mood, change our perspective, and soften our emotions. The ability of light to influence how we feel was the main impetus behind the Dance of Light Collection by Carnegie Fabrics. This new textile, designed in collaboration with Louise Russell, is part of the company’s Philosophy brand and is appropriate for use in the health care, wellness and hospitality markets.

According to Cliff Goldman, Carnegie’s president, Dance of Light builds on the company’s commitment to serving customers, particularly those in the health care field. “We entered the health care market 10 years ago when we began to see a greater emphasis on design and aesthetics rather than price alone,” he says. “We are committed to providing textiles that promote healing interiors for patients.”

Carnegie’s Philosophy brand premiered in 1999, and Dance of Light is another step in the collection’s evolution. Goldman says that the line will continue to evolve based on customer response and marketplace needs.

“Studies show that design can impact the healing process by shortening a patient’s time in the hospital,” explains Goldman. “We evaluate our products based on what a patient and their family sees and what we believe will help to create a calming environment that promotes healing and wellness.”

Mary Holt, executive vice president of creative for Carnegie, says that Dance of Light exemplifies the company’s mission of providing products that contribute to wellness for the mind, body and spirit. “This collection borrows from other designs in the Philosophy brand, and the design was based on our ongoing research,” she says. “Each piece moves us to a new idea.”

Holt notes that Russell has been involved in the Philosophy brand since its inception. “Louise has a true passion for creating fabrics with meaning. Her concept for this line resonated with us from the beginning.”

The Design Process

(larger image) PHOTO: KIM BARBRIE

In her own work, Russell continually references extensive resources to find the right emotional approach for the colors that she uses. She and other members of the Carnegie team thoroughly researched the designs to create the most appropriate patterns for the collection.

Dance of Light was inspired by light and its impact on our lives and our emotions. Each of the three patterns—Blossom, Joy and Radiance—presents a different interpretation of light and its effect on our lives.

For those who are not familiar with her work, Russell’s credentials are impressive. She is an accomplished textile designer; has studied the science of sound for 18 years; and is a certified color therapist. Each of these areas of focus have contributed significantly to her design philosophy and creations.

“Dance of Light uses subtle symbology in a meaningful way to promote healing,” says Russell. “We have created purposeful patterns that are meant to be transformative within the facilities where they are used ... from hospital rooms to spas.“

The patterns all have a large, dramatic scale and are recommended for privacy and window use, and have a standard width of 72 inches; lengths vary from 61 inches to 81-1/4 inches. Standard colors in each pattern also vary with two for Radiance, five for Blossom and seven for Joy. The collection meets or exceeds ACT standards.

Russell states that the symbols are recognizable whether the viewer is aware of them or not. Blossom features lotus and charka symbols that are arranged to create a field of calm and rest. “In the three designs, we have used colors in many different ways,” she says. “The combinations that we have used reflect what we currently see in the marketplace as well as being appropriate for each design.”

Color, in Russell’s opinion, is like trying to fine-tune a radio station. One must continually evaluate the design until a sense of being in the right place is achieved. It’s not just about trying to fill a space with a beautiful fabric. The mission centers on how to move the invisible world of inspiration into a life-transforming vehicle that works in a two-dimensional and then a three-dimensional realm. For Russell, light is like the music inside the main character in the movie August Rush, where an idea—in this case the use of light and color rather than music—is waiting to happen. Walking through life and working on client projects provides an opportunity to show how light can be used in a myriad of ways based on the emotions and connection that she feels for each assignment.

According to Russell, the work does not necessarily start with a pattern. She notes that her approach is to first define what she wants to convey emotionally. The designs typically spring forth from the environment she seeks to create.

The goal for the Joy pattern was to offer an unobtrusive or quiet pattern that featured fields of color. The resulting color palettes used in the design flow from one to another in a seamless transition.

Radiance, the final design in the collection, explores full spectrum color. Each color has its own wavelength and frequency. Russell says that each colored ray also has its own specific life enhancing quality and healing action.

Russell strongly believes that we are on the cusp of creating interiors that are avenues for real healing—both physical and emotional healing—and that we will get to a point where rooms themselves are part of the healing process. For those of us who have spent time in health care settings with one-color, often white or off-white, privacy curtains or drapes, Dance of Light, is a welcome product with more designs to come as the collection evolves.

Janet Wiens is a freelance writer based in Memphis, TN. She was formerly marketing manager for HNTB and now works with industry clients to address their marketing and public relations needs. She can be reached at [email protected].

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