as Drama in Southern California
Design by John Case
Photography by David Kramer
helicopter lands in the middle of night on the grounds of
a sizable private estate in Southern California. The owner,
a well-to-do businessman, is rather tired from his round of
East Coast business meetings. Minutes before the chopper touches
down, he reaches for a remote control device and--presto!--his
manse is instantly illuminated at the press of a button. Thanks
to San Diego-based lighting consultant and designer, John
Case, the businessman no longer has to fumble for a myriad
of light switches in each room of the house.
should anyone have to spend 15 minutes searching for and turning
on light switches?" asks Case. "With one button,
a variety of tasks can be performed." For nearly 20 years,
he has sought practical solutions to lighting problems for
residential and commercial installations across the nation.
And he is not content to consider merely the aesthetic side
of lighting, either. From the beginning of his career, Case
has designed switching systems and light fixtures as well.
many times," he notes, "lighting designers are called
in after projects are well underway. Usually by then, many
problems need to be solved. That is why I stress to interior
designers and architects that lighting designers be consulted
from the onset so that proper switching elements and light
distribution can be achieved and future needs anticipated."
It has always been Case's philosophy that lighting should
be sensed and not seen. To achieve this, Case conceals certain
lighting fixtures as much as possible so that the objects
illuminated are not surrounded with dangling or mounted fixtures
and wires. Quartz halogen is the light source Case prefers
most, and the optical projector is the style of fixture most
chosen for illuminating objects. With optical projectors a
template is made of the shape of the object to be lit and
placed over the lamp, thus eliminating excess light spillage.
Elsewhere in Case's projects, appropriate table lamps, wall
sconces, torchiers and other fixtures are used with discretion.
Case, "One common error is that too often a lot of lighting
if used in a few places, when just a little amount of lighting
in a lot of places would be more suitable. In other words,
people have a tendency to use a 150-watt spotlight where only
20 watts is actually needed. This goes hand in hand with wrong
fixture selection and, again, improper planning. The goal
is to bring out the work done by the interior designer or
architect. A beautiful project by day can be a disaster by
night if the lighting is not correct.
systems, he continues, "do not have to be ugly or awkwardly
placed, either. For example, we engrave buttons with their
functions, and make the switch housing part of the decor.
Also, audio systems can be tied in with the lighting for the
sake of convenience."
view on residential lighting is that a home should be softly
lit upon entering--inviting without the necessity of bright
lights. For the Charles Mitchell residence, shown on these
pages, Case created a hallway that becomes a passage of visual
delights by evening. Two enormous artworks by Sheila Elias
and Steve Grossman seem to float in an undefined space--the
lighting source as much a mystery as the room itself. Without
prodding, the eye is drawn outward to a Guy Dill sculpture
beyond the pool where trees literally glow in the night.
it comes to corporate, hospitality or public space interiors,
Case provides an aura of lighting--not to mention a touch
of drama--that equals the prestige and authority of his high
technology advances and projects become more demanding, Case
admits it becomes more apparent that managing light--indoors
and out, day or night--is an art in itself.
Corporate drama is created by lighting designer John Case,
shown here in the executive floor lobby of the Transamerica
Headquarters, Los Angeles. In a reflective mood, Case gazes
at Mitchell's Falls, a cement polymer construction by Laddie
John Dill. Brother Guy Dill' untitled
steel and glass sculpture stands solemnly against the Los
Angeles skyline. Interior design by United Business Interiors.