10 Minutes With: Ira Levy
Electrifying is the only word to describe the work of lighting designer Ira Levy. It has to be.
As the genius behind show-stopping environments that use materials like fluorescent tubing, LED pods, Chroma-cubes and video projection to set the mood (any mood), we sat down with the owner of Levy Lighting, LLC to learn some of his brightest tricks of the trade.
Read on to find out how to best illuminate your nuptials to the light of your life.
How did you get started in the lighting business?
When I was in college, I thought I’d end up being a doctor or lawyer like my parents expected of me. But then I saw a Pretenders concert in 1983 and decided to join the campus concert committee instead. Soon I was involved in concerts for people like U2 and Eddie Murphy and I was hooked. It was an exciting time when technology started to really change how you can light an event and I was in the right place at the right time.
Why is the right lighting important?
It sets the tone of the event for the guests right away. Lighting effects can be so subtle that guests may not even realize how it will affect their mood. Or they can be really dramatic, like projecting motion-sensitive images of flowers or snowflakes onto the floor that all guests can think about is wow. Lighting is the place where a couple can really bring across the theme of their event right away.
What are some of the things that you do?
Making dramatic lighting can mean anything from the right placement of candles or stringing carnival lights in trees to lighting a walkway with colorful sculptural pillars or LED orbs, or even projecting images on a wall or aisle. Once for a wedding I did in Brazil, we projected an image of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on a façade.
What inspires your work?
Lots of things inspire my work. From the latest digital technology to fine artists like Dan Flavin, these sources of inspiration help us to invent new ways to create dramatic effects.
How do you go about hiring a lighting pro?
Most of the time it is easiest if we work with the wedding planner or designer you hire. This way the lighting we do can blend with the themes your designers are creating.
What are some trends in lighting that will blow guests away?
The concept of projected décor onto facades or walkways is huge. They can be moving images of trees or flowers or cityscapes or they can be static. Recently we projected images of the interior of a Tuscan villa, with its French doors, onto the walls of a New York City event space and it instantly took guests to another place.
Or, we’ve used wireless motion sensor technology as an aisle runner so every time the bride walked it looked like she was cracking ice under her foot. Saturated color is still big. Colors like tangerine or lavender are huge. Also brightly colored fluorescent shapes, like columns or orbs, placed on a lawn or walkway make a dramatic impact.
What are ways to do it on the cheap?
Use lots of candles! Clusters of pillar candles or candles in painted candelabras are easy and cheap lighting techniques. As for colored light, if you have a tight budget, I’d recommend using colored lighting on the perimeter of the room before spotting the tables these days. The perimeter can often look dead if it isn’t lit well so giving it beautiful saturated light livens up any event.