After graduating from college with a degree in business and Spanish, Sara Jo De la Isla still wasn’t sure of her career path. She ended up going to design school with an intended focus on kitchens and baths. While in school she took a job with a family friend in a local lighting showroom and the rest is history. With her strong background in lighting and also interior design, De la Isla landed a position as the lighting designer for technology integration company Denizen with a focus on luxury residential lighting design. Connected Design was able to sit down with De la Isla and talk about lighting design and working with an integration team.

Connected Design: How do you start the lighting design conversation with clients?

Sara De la Isla: I always begin by letting the client know what to expect with my design. I have an entire design letter that spells out everything that I give them, with all of the deliverables they can expect. Then I like to get to know the client. My favorite question to start with is what they like and don’t like about the lighting in their current home. Then I will ask them about their daily life, and what their entertainment style is. I have a handful of clients that entertaining is very important, so having really good mood lighting is incredibly important. Now I know I need to provide enough different lighting zones in the space to create those moods and make it dramatic. Other clients maybe are more family based. Do they have kids? Is the client working from home, is there a home office? All of these questions help me understand how they are going to use the lighting in their homes.  I want the client to get the products that make the most sense, that it is going to do what it needs to do from a functionality standpoint, but at the end of the day, I want the client’s home to look exactly like what they’re envisioning.

CD: What is a current lighting trend that you and your clients are excited about right now?

SD: I think the trend that is the most fun and most common for me and my clients right now is the color-tunable, circadian rhythm, human-centric, lighting. Every line has its own name, do something a little bit different. It’s about changing the light. We use Ketra often. It’s an amazing product, however, it also has a high price tag that isn’t for every budget. But you can take the trend itself and run with it on a scalable level as well. There is a line called DMF that I like to use, and Lutron has Finire. They all have a warm dim product line, and what that does is it takes a smaller spectrum of color temperatures, and it gives you a dimming curve with the color temperature. If you think about the incandescent lights that we all had growing up with the fun little rotary dimmer. You could dim it down and the little filaments would get warm and glow giving a candlelight-like glow. LEDs could never mimic that until recently. Now, the warm dim (LED) lights give you that same feel.

CD: What role does lighting in the home play in daily life that most people don’t realize?

SD: For the most part, you are in your home morning and evening. Those are important times, that’s when you get to eat dinner, and breakfast, it’s your family time. Being able to create the right light in those spaces is crucial. For example, here in my office, I have 4000 Kelvin which is great for working. But even if I were to dim down this light, it’s still 4000 Kelvin.  So, at 7:00 o’clock at night, if I wanted to go ahead and start winding down, this lighting is not going to allow me to do that. Being able to manipulate the color temperature of the light in their home and create those scenes for different moments of the day is incredible

CD: How important is the human-centric lighting trend?

SD: Compare it to what the sun does every day. We don’t all sit inside every day, but we do right? It’s our lives now. We work way too many hours and we’re stuck inside whether it’s an office, our home, or school. That’s where we are. But If we were to live outside in the natural sunlight, we would have the same curve. That is what human-centric lighting is going to do for you. It’s going to help our body produce melatonin. It’s going to kick up our serotonin. It’s going to really make your body do what it is supposed to do. By introducing that blue light into your day, you’re making your body realize it wants to work.  It’s the middle of the day, you’ve got to be able to function, and then in the evening time, you need that blue light to come out. We want to naturally decompress and sleep. Too many of us sit with our phones at night or watch TV or whatever, and it all has so much blue light and then we have trouble sleeping. It’s because our bodies aren’t doing it naturally anymore. Human centric lighting is a wellness thing more than anything else.

Sara Jo De la Isla, Light Designer

Denizen Home

DMF Lighting: