Our concept for Illumination derived from the arboretum’s desire to show a different side of the winter landscape. Instead of treating the arbor as decorative objects to light, we used lighting to reveal the inherent beauty of winter trees.
The Morton Arboretum didn’t have to wait until spring for its trees to come to life this year. Illumination, a new holiday event, animated the park’s impressive arbor with dynamic LED lighting that invited guests to see its trees in a new light. From November to January, guests could touch, sing to and take in the trees through a series of interactive lighting elements installed along a walking trail.
As the project’s creative director and lighting designer, Lightswitch worked with the arboretum, local equipment provider Intelligent Lighting Creations (ILC), and a network of global designers and vendors to create this truly unique holiday experience. Our concept for Illumination derived from the arboretum’s desire to show a different side of the winter landscape. Instead of treating the arbor as decorative objects to light, we used lighting to reveal the inherent beauty of winter trees. Working with ILC, Lightswitch created a series of interactive stations where guests could animate the trees with light. These include “Tree Harmony,” where guests sang into a device that triggered bold tree lights and “Hug a Tree,” where pressure sensors affixed to the backs of juniper trees caused them to illuminate when hugged. At other points on the trail, visitors could quietly commune with nature through soft, subtle white lighting installations that include tree-hung chandeliers and custom linear pendants.
While this wasn’t our first time lighting a holiday show, we wanted to make Illumination unlike any other seasonal lighting experience we’d seen. Inspired by our clients, we crafted a concept that illuminated what mattered most to them: the trees! From there, we tapped into our diverse experience designing across disciplines to create and execute a show that was one part entertainment, one part immersive environment and 100% unique to The Morton Arboretum. Photos: Benjamin Roy