Perspective, Projects

Lighting Design for Luxury Environments: Layers of Light Create Unique Experiences

SMALL SIZE The Ritz-Carlton - Tianjin - Fireplace Room - Credit -Christopher Cypert

Michael Hemmenway
IES LEED AP BD+C
Principal, Fisher Marantz Stone
w: www.fmsp.com

We invite you to further explore our portfolio of design for luxury environments in our recently published collection LUXE Light.


This content is part of the luxe design series. Check out other posts featured on the topic.


Michael Hemmenway quickly realized after a few youthful experiments on stage, that his real passion was for the design and technical side of live performance. Later explorations of art history, architecture, and photography led to his career in lighting design. In his 18 years at FMS, Michael’s work in international luxury design has been widely recognized. His background includes theatrical design and construction, architecture, and photography. He is an avid traveler who loves to experience and explore different places, cultures, and environments.

We asked Michael to give us a glimpse into how he and his team approach lighting design for luxury environments.


Designing for luxury environments

As lighting designers, we strive to participate in as many projects as possible – bringing our vision and deep understanding of light to better realize the built environment. In practice, much of our work is focused on the pinnacle of the design world, the best of the best. Design for Luxury environments demands a particularly high level of attention to intimacy and detailing. The lighting designer, while creating exclusive yet welcoming environments, must simultaneously consider experiences that are unique, special, and immensely enjoyable.

You might think of these environments through layers of light.

  • The Spatial: employing diffuse light at the scale of the architecture
  • The Featured: as it highlights art works, special features, furniture and finishes
  • The Intimate: as it relates to the human experience: sitting at a desk, lounging on a chaise, closely inspecting a fine object, or having a cocktail beside a warm fire.

Imagine setting a scene, where the audience and actors inhabit the same space.

Our layers of light enliven the stage, scenery, and the characters. Our layers of light are composed of highlights and shadows and we use controls to tailor each scene to times, visual acuity, and the activities within the space.

This is one technique we might employ to support a luxury design commission, and it is shared across the various project types exemplified here: a luxury retail boutique, a bespoke residence, and a welcoming hotel.

Projects exemplifying layers of light

Similar, yet site-specific lighting techniques enhance the architecture and interiors while creating pleasurable and memorable experiences.

  1. Luxury Retail Boutique
Project: O.C. Tanner Company | Photo Credit: Scott Zimmerman

2. Bespoke Private Residence

Project: Private Residence | Photo Credit: Tim Griffith

3. Hospitality

Project: Library/ Fireplace Room, The Ritz-Carlton Tianjin | Photo Credit: Christopher Cypert


We invite you to further explore our portfolio of design for luxury environments in our recently published collection LUXE Light.

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