Past Present Future was commissioned by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Arts for Transit and Urban Design. © 2012, Mauricio Lopez
Seeing the Light
Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
Photography by Jesse Ross
Whether he’s capturing sunrays coming through colored glass on a project for a New York train station, or completing the complex lighting for a big hotel project like the Grand Hyatt Istanbul, Mauricio Lopez of ML Studio knows that light plays a huge role in design. We asked the Colombia-born, New York-based lighting designer and artist to show off his installation for the New York MTA, Past Present Future.
DB: How did you first become interested in the different facets of light?
Mauricio Lopez: When I was a kid I liked lights; I would see a pendant or a table lamp and would like it as long as it was fun. I was always trying to create things, and some of those things were lamps, so my dad, instead of opposing my hazardous toys, taught me the principle of wiring. I was probably 12 at the time. Much later in architecture school I was introduced to more complex lighting principles, and that opened a completely different idea of what lighting could be, and in fact it could be a profession.
DB: There’s an overlap between lighting interiors and your glass art installation for the MTA—you can tell that there’s an understanding of how the light will affect the colored glass at different times during the day. Do you have a background in visual art as well?
ML: I started painting about the same time when I started making objects and lamps. I was about 12 years old. Painting has been a part of my life, and a way to express myself. But art in Colombia, as it’s here, is an uncertain business and I needed to pair it with a career that I could rely on economically. I didn’t go that far and choose architecture, which I love. Over the years I started experimenting in different mediums, and thanks to my architecture background, I can bring my artwork into different materials, and scales. The MTA has clear specifications for the faceted glass panels because of the public nature of the installation. I worked with a very skilled fabricator, Erskin Mitchell Stained Glass, to accomplish the artwork. I’m fascinated by how light travels through materials and transforms them. How light shapes an environment. Daylight is the main element that changes the MTA installation; it changes the artwork throughout the day and seasons. It’s a different experience at each time of the day. I like to experiment and change people’s perception of space.