Transitioning to life outside. Q&A with Christoph Regensberger and Pamela Ospina

Transitioning to life outside. Q&A with Christoph Regensberger and Pamela Ospina

Spring is fast approaching and many homeowners are turning their attention towards their gardens and terraces in preparation for the summer months. Over the past two years, people have become more aware of the importance of outdoor space. As our lifestyles changed in response to the global situation, we put more value on gardens, terraces, parks and rural locations. For many, the outdoors quickly became the epicentre of their lives – a place to work, to socialise, to exercise and to relax.

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What once seemed a temporary necessity in fact sparked a global cultural shift. Today, design professionals are breaking down the barriers between indoor and outdoor space to improve physical and mental health and generate a sense of wellbeing. We spoke to Christoph Regensberger, CEO at Studio L Plan in Austria, and Pamela Ospina, Workplace Designer at M Moser New York, to compare their unique perspectives from across the Atlantic.

Vibia The Edit - Transitioning to life outside
Vibia The Edit - Transitioning to life outside

Studio L Plan develops creative lighting concepts that shape perspectives, accompanying customers with passion and expertise throughout all phases of a project.

M Moser Associates designs and delivers workplace environments that bring out the best in people, enabling organisations to nimbly transform in an ever-challenging world.

Could you please give us a brief introduction to your work and career?

Christoph Regensberger (CR): I have been involved with light for over 30 years. During an apprenticeship in electrical engineering, I became more and more fascinated by the subject of light, so I eventually started further training in lighting technology and design and worked for a lighting company. In 1998 I opened my own lighting design studio. The subject of light and its effects on people and space continues to fascinate me every day.

Pamela Ospina (PO): I have long loved design and the psychological connection between space and humans. As a workplace designer at M Moser New York, it has been heartening to assist companies in focusing not only on the company’s needs but more specifically their employees, and to see the overall improvement in productivity and culture through spatial interactions.

The pandemic highlighted three key elements when it comes to design: the need to improve quality of light; the need for more space for remote work; and the importance of outdoor space. How have you seen these trends playing out in your industry?

CR: Our way of working has changed fundamentally. Light has become even more important, because it is precisely with light that you can design spaces and create new zones.

PO: Remote working initiated the start of greater flexibility. Most employees were given the opportunity to work in just about any place that they saw fit – whether that’s at home, in an office, or in a coffee shop. Now more than ever office spaces have introduced outdoor areas or increased daylight to improve overall health. Considering many companies may not have the luxury of having proper daylighting, circadian lighting has been a great way of promoting alertness or rest at the end of the day. Another element that has increased in popularity through the rise of the pandemic has been biolphilia. Not only does it help with freshening our environments, but studies show that biophilia also assists with reducing stress.

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Vibia The Edit - Transitioning to life outside - Palma

How important is it to create a connection between indoor and outdoor space? Why is this connection so important?

PO: It is vital to create spaces where the interior and exterior merge holistically in a space. During the pandemic we were forced to stay indoors which impeded mental health and it became apparent that humans need outdoor connection. The biophilia hypothesis indicates that as humans we have an innate response to nature, we automatically feel comfort. I believe this should be a baseline for overall wellness.

CR: The connection between indoor and outdoor space has always been very important to me and you can create that wonderfully with light. Imagine yourself in a living room looking out through large windows onto a terrace or garden, the outdoor areas beautifully lit so the interior and exterior become one. There is nothing more fascinating than this play of light and shadow.

Vibia The Edit - Transitioning to life outside
Vibia The Edit - Transitioning to life outside

Courtyards, canopies, pergolas, glazed walls. These are all ways designers are creating the illusion of connecting the inside with the outside. To what extent have we seen a growth in these types of features recently?

PO: Designers have been pushing the boundaries of outdoor/indoor for quite a while. It is always a challenge to activate outdoor spaces with practical living elements. However with the use of interactive features it has become easier for people to accommodate their space to suit their needs. Solar powered canopies that adjust shade levels have become very popular to eliminate glare and create passive wind circulation. Another great example is the integration of heat warmers, allowing outdoor spaces to extend throughout most of the year.

CR: We have learnt to include the exterior and not let it act as a stand-alone space. That’s why there is more and more emphasis on coherent lighting. I have always placed a lot of emphasis on this connection.

Vibia The Edit - Transitioning to life outside - Palma
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Many outdoor spaces are being redefined and transformed, with all the style and amenities that were previously only found indoors. Is it possible to recreate the sense of intimacy and wellbeing that we usually associate with a living room in an outdoor environment?

CR: Yes, with the right lighting it is possible. It is very important to determine the relationship between light and shade. The biggest mistake you can make is having too much light or the wrong lighting colour.

PO: Indoors we create rooms or zones through wall partitions. We can apply the same ideology outdoors through planters and plant walls. They can provide intimate surroundings while occupants benefit from their stress relieving properties and plants absorb sound which can create quiet niches.

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Vibia The Edit - Transitioning to life outside - Musa

Do the same rules apply outdoors when it comes to composition?

CR: Yes, in principle it is always about playing with light and shade.

PO: There are very similar composition aspects for both indoors and outdoors. Master planning, creating public zones or private niches for activity based areas. We can also create flexible spaces through the use of furniture and moveable partitions or barriers.

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What products are best suited for this type of indoor-outdoor fusion?

PO: There are many design features that are executed indoors that we have now extended out into outdoor spaces. Integrating tractable screens and projectors for movie nights can create an intimate gathering. The implementation of warmth through bonfires that were once indoor fireplaces can create an active shared space.

CR: Indirect light sources that create a play of light and shadow on the ground are very well suited for outdoor use. Additionally, decorative outdoor floor lamps can create a beautiful connection between indoors and outdoors.

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