Inspired by the United Nations’ International Year of Light initiative, Lightswitch is exploring Why Light Matters throughout 2015.

We have asked our designers why light matters to them and will be sharing their responses in a short Q&A each month. Each Q&A will focus on a different way light shapes our lives—from buildings we live in to the emotions it evokes. We hope our stories will inspire you to think about why light matters to you, and we invite you to join the dialogue on Facebook: How does light entertain you?

Like beauty, entertainment is in the eye of the beholder. And whether joy is found in a Verdi opera or a theme park ride, there’s a good chance that lighting is an essential part of the experience. We asked designers Ellie Ueda of Lightswitch Hong Kong and Chris Merriman of Lightswitch Chicago what amuses them and how they use lighting to boost entertainment value.

Q: How do you define "entertainment"?
Ellie: Entertainment creates a moment that moves somebody.

Q: How can light or lighting be used to entertain people?
Chris: It’s most often thought of as way to reinforce a story that is being told or to portray the emotion of music or dance. But it can also be used as a force unto itself, like an outdoor spectacle with fireworks, lasers and the like.

Q: A big trend is using lighting to provide entertainment in nontraditional settings, like corporate events. As a designer for these events, how do you walk the line between business and pleasure?
Chris: It’s a careful balancing act. You want both portions to shine, and you don’t want either to suffer. I will often approach the event as two separate parts and make sure each has its needs met. Luckily, as lighting technology has evolved much of this can be accomplished with the same set of equipment. The same lighting can both reinforce the brand and enhance the entertainment.

Q: Another burgeoning field is “architainment,” which blends architecture and entertainment. How is lighting used to enhance it?
Ellie: Lighting effects for entertainment, such as the use of color, movement, projection and individual control, have been adapted for architectural use and have become easier to integrate into architectural features, thanks to the innovation of LED. My goal with architainment lighting is to add the ‘wow’ factor that you find in entertainment to architecture and interiors without losing their value.

Q: What’s an example of innovative entertainment lighting done well?
Ellie: Disney never fails to astonish its guests. Lighting plays a key role in Disney magic, like the iconic nighttime parade at Disneyland Tokyo, though it’s never just the lighting alone. Entertainers, music, sets, costumes and safety all come together to make their experiences special. Disney is also keen to try advanced technologies, like projection mapping on the castle or OLEDs on costumes. By keeping up the ‘never before seen’ effects, Disney keeps its guests coming back.

Q: What is the most memorable entertainment project you've worked on?
Chris: The project that continues to have a lasting impact is the aquatic shows at The John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. We used lighting to transform the complete environment and transport the audience and animals into different places, locations and experiences.

Q: If you had the opportunity to design the lighting for any entertainment venue or experience, what would it be?
Ellie: I cannot resist the beauty of light and water together, so I would love to work on aquarium and water features like fountains with rhythm and changing colors. For example, there is a spectacular show at the City of Dreams Casino in Macau called The House of Dancing Water, which has the most beautiful art made of light and water that spontaneously changes its form.

Chris: I’d light my favorite music act, The Who. To have the chance to bring my vision into music I’ve listened to, enjoyed and mentally illuminated for many years would be a great experience.