A walk in the Enchanted Forest (photo: Kathryn Rapier)
USA - Visual design group Lightswitch has overseen lighting design and creative direction for Enchanted Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens in Southern California since 2016. This year, the popular one-mile nighttime walk through colourful and dazzling lighting displays shined brighter than ever with an expanded IP-rated lighting package from Elation that included the company’s new Proteus Hybrid MAX.
Enchanted is an immersive visual experience tailor-made to highlight the historic botanical garden’s beauty and flora. Each year, Lightswitch reimagines portions of the experience, enhancing areas and repositioning luminaires. This season’s show ran from 19 November through 7 January and included a new area as a result of refurbishment elsewhere in the gardens.
Lightswitch creates and produces the entire “Enchanted Forest of Light” experience, designing lighting, media, and interactives, as well as overseeing music selection, sound design, and technical and logistical production. Under the leadership of Lightswitch principal Chris Medvitz, the visual design has consistently relied on Elation lighting for the past seven years. This year, Elation IP65 lighting was expanded to all areas of the display, further enhancing the enchanting atmosphere.
Collaboration with outside artists is an integral part of the Enchanted experience. On the main lawn, a series of magical stained-glass-inspired houses by sculptor Tom Fruin are internally lit with SixBar 1000 IP LED battens while in the rose garden geometric sculptures by artists Hybycozo glow from within using Proteus Lucius LED profile moving heads as a stream of moving effects emanate through the pieces.
A special Hybycozo art piece that features in the installation is a large, rotating mirrored star previously lit using Proteus Hybrid but now illuminated using Proteus Hybrid MAX. “Choosing Proteus Hybrid MAX made a lot of sense here because it is a smaller fixture, lightweight and includes technical updates that make it a more refined fixture,” Medvitz stated. “We needed a tight, collimated beam to minimise the overspill which the fixture’s narrow beam allows us to do.”
The Proteus Hybrid MAX, the IP66-rated upgrade of Elation’s pioneering Proteus Hybrid with all-new technology, provides versatility in areas like the newly created Spectral Sanctuary, where environmental impact is an issue. Concerned about disruption to the property’s lilac garden ecosystem, Lightswitch was asked to create an installation that minimised the amount of equipment incorporated around the plants.
Medvitz explains: “We moved the existing installation to an area of the garden that was less impactful on the specimens and created a new installation called Spectral Sanctuary. Here we placed Proteus Hybrid MAX on towers along the edge of the garden to create a stunning light show through the lilacs rather than lighting effects amongst the plants. We kept a safe distance and allowed them to have an impact without running a lot of cable and other equipment through the middle of the garden itself. It’s a different look than we have in the rest of the show but worked out really great.”

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