Hervé Descottes / L’Observatoire International

Location: New York, New York
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Whether it is subtly lighting the spatial sequences of Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall or underscoring the poetic lines of a Stephen Holl building, L’Obervatoire International has earned a reputation as being among the most creative, imaginative, and inventive lighting design companies in the world. As founder and principal Hervé Descottes remarks, “We move…towards a different wavelength, something you can’t always perceive visually, but somehow sense.”

Descottes understands that lighting can create an atmosphere that leaves a lasting impression on our visual memory. It can provoke and affect our sensations of identity, belonging, and balance. The moods provoked by light can also have political and social ramifications. Descottes observes, “You can feel very violated by certain types of light; others make you feel secure, like being in a cocoon.…The best result is when you don’t understand the lighting of a space, but you feel very good about it— almost as if you see it with your eyes closed, like tuning a vibration.”

With his international team of lighting designers, architects, interior designers, engineers, and artists, Descottes “organizes space” for myriad projects, whether areas of a landscape, building exteriors or interiors, historic façades, or architectural details. Since 2003, L’Observatoire International has created lighting for more than nineteen highly significant international projects in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, China; Paris and Lille, France; Targu-Jiu, Romania; Gstaad, Switzerland; Ontario, Canada; Tokyo, Japan; and, in the United States, Las Vegas, Houston, and New York. Rather than replicate aspects of the cultural heritage of the cities in which it works, L’Observatoire offers an unexpected, innovative vision that integrates with the specific needs and characteristics of the project. After spending time looking at one of their projects, “We see what we always see, but in a completely different way.”