The Lighting Control Innovation Award was created in 2011 as part of the Illuminating Engineering Society’s Illumination Awards program, which recognizes professionalism, ingenuity and originality in lighting design. LCA is proud to sponsor the Lighting Control Innovation Award, which recognizes projects that exemplify the effective use of lighting controls in nonresidential applications.
This month, we explore a sustainable and highly specialized lighting control solution installed at a sensory test kitchen at Simplot Headquarters in Dallas. Lighting control design by LuM Lighting Design. Photography by James F. Wilson and Casey Dunn. Lighting controls by Lutron Electronics (Quantum).
How much do we taste with our eyes? Research shows that we associate specific color perceptions of food with certain flavors. The stronger the flavor/color link, the greater the impact of food color. With these principles in mind, this agribusiness corporation created a sensory test-kitchen that allowed the operators conducting the taste studies to quickly control the lighting as an element of the flavor perception and experience of the food-testers.
On the kitchen side, test foods are prepared and plated. They are presented to eight food testers through guillotine doors with minimal interaction between preparers and testers. Testers seated in a partitioned bar configuration opposite the kitchen receive the foods and respond to survey questions regarding their perceptions and experiences of the foods.
Giving the operators’ maximum flexibility for influencing the testers’ visual perceptions of the foods, one 32W RGBW 4″ recessed-downlight is centered above each tester’s tabletop-space. A small DMX512 control-system with wireless-interface allows operators to dial in any color including 3500K white light to match adjacent spaces. An 8-button keypad provides preset commonly used colors. Tests include obscuring as well as enhancing the food’s color with light to determine how testers perceive the flavor of the test food. Example: During a taste-test for sweet potato French fries, testers evaluated sample fries where the orange sweet potato color is enhanced as well as where the orange color is grayed out. These combined evaluations offer the product manufacturer accurate feedback on flavor and appearance goals for the product.
Previous iterations of this company’s sensory kitchen used compact-fluorescent downlights into which operators installed theatrical color gels while testers waited. Operators are delighted with the color-changing LED downlights and intuitive, easy control-system. Testing is faster so they can survey more people more efficiently. The operators continue to develop ways to use their innovative lighting tools.