Book Review – 21st Century Lighting Design by Alyn Griffiths (Bloomsbury)

book cover

ISBN 978-1-4725-0313-8
21st Century Lighting Design by Alyn Griffiths
Bloomsbury (published April 2014)
Price £24.99

Foreword by Ingo Maurer
Three Parts to the Main Body (Form, Materials, Technology)
Directory of Designers and Manufacturers
Index (4 pages)
Image Credits (2 pages)

Industrial Designer, Ingo Maurer conveys an emotive message in his Foreword, in which he alerts the reader to the fact that lighting design is becoming somewhat ubiquitous because of being technology led. The introduction that follows, by the book’s author, Alyn Griffiths devotes little to what has been and he moves away from debating principles around Is it art? Is it design? He gets straight in to what it is that is influencing the industry and what needs to be considered in modern day terms. Each of the three main chapters opens with a page or two written by Griffiths, where he exercises his prowess as a curator in areas relating to: lighting and architecture, lighting and aesthetics; lighting around various materials and their properties; lighting and new developments/trend forecasting. The text is information laden, but takes up little space overall. This is a primarily a book where photography acts as a showcase of design work, and accompanying information is ‘tagged’ to the photographs and takes over the commentary.

The author’s language in each of his chapter introductions is a little flowery and he has tried a little too hard. Do people really want to read sentences worded, in part, like this: ‘The anarchic aesthetic approach of…’ or ‘to the pioneering postmodern architecture...’ – Alliteration and word syllable overload, but Griffiths does settle in to it. He is very passionate and enthusiastic to inform as to what has happened to lighting and to lay out a perspective in regard to future sustainability. The examples of lighting in staged and lifestyle type shots and in cityscapes are superbly illustrated, and the background detailing of the designers and their products is hugely insightful, albeit not wholly comprehensive.

photograph from the page of the book 21st Century Lighting Design by Bloomsbury. Brave New World Lamp image Courtesy of Moooi

The book is recently published (April 2014) and is completely relevant. It achieves a good balance in the explaining of all things to do with lighting and lighting design: of the past, in the present and moving in to the future. The pages have been carefully composed to allow freedom for the enjoyment of browsing through it. It is not a guide as such, more suitable for researching and obtaining quite diverse information on the topic, and for enjoyment of the visual that it presents.




Paperback. 245 Pages. Cover design and chapter separators are plain black with white lettering. Satin feel pages are soft white and text is black and a mix of small, fine font and small bold font. The distribution of the illustrations throughout has the same appeal as that of a feature magazine or of a high quality produced catalogue.


Stunningly presented full colour, full page and half page photography of designer lighting in inspirational indoor and outdoor settings, and photographic images used to illustrate lighting design work by established and emerging designers.

A great addition to a designer’s book collection, but, arguably, a book that may gather dust once its frills and thrills have been discovered. The Directory and that which falls under the Image Credits section would be a valuable contact list to possess.

image from the book 21st Century Lighting Design by Bloomsbury - Photography by Angelo Kaunat, courtesy of realities united.
image from the book 21st Century Lighting Design by Bloomsbury – Photography by Angelo Kaunat, courtesy of realities united.

Note: The Featured Image – Copper Shade from the book 21st Century Design by Bloomsbury. Photographer Tom Mannion. Courtesy of Tom Dixon.


academic award Bloomsbury


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