Finnish company Light Cognitive’s lighting panels and installations tap into the body’s natural circadian rhythm to lift the mood and energise
When Anne Salomaa and her family returned to their native Finland after eight years in New York, they immediately noticed how the shorter days and lack of natural light markedly affected their mood and energy levels. “We arrived in September, just as the long winter started,” says Anne. “There was a dramatic change in how we felt and how hard it was to get up in the mornings.”
To respond to this problem, Anne’s physicist husband, Sami, measured the light in the sky using an instrument called a spectrometer and created a realistic model of daylight. With advances in LED lighting, he then made a light installation that was close to real, natural light. “Sami got to work, and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out,” says Anne. “But when I saw the installation, it was beautiful.”
The 2016 experiment was such a success that the couple decided to turn it into a business called Light Cognitive, developing the product with the advice of a world-renowned expert in circadian rhythm from Harvard University. The idea was for the lights to change softly and gradually throughout the day. Mimicking natural light, they start off with a bright, bluish tone and get warmer towards the evening. “People are becoming more aware of the importance of the right light at the right time for sleep and wellbeing,” says Anne, who serves as the company’s Marketing Director. Light Cognitive’s virtual skylights combine natural light with the appearance of horizon and sky views, transforming the interior of any building to improve quality of life and increase property value.
The company teamed up with Finnish design company Artek to showcase its work at Lux Helsinki, a light art event held every January in the capital. Orders flooded in from coffee shops, gaming companies and boutique hotels in the city. The company has since created bespoke lighting for luxury brands Fendi and Balenciaga, private residences and offices, among other projects, and has won awards including the 2020 Dezeen Award for lighting design.
One of the commissions the company is most proud of is a calming light wall it created for a radiotherapy unit in a hospital in Switzerland, to make the space less intimidating for patients. “We want to continue moving forward,” says Anne, “sharing our work with people all over the world.”