Lichtbox – Light as a drug substitute?

 Lighting moods for the nightlife

The vast majority of nightlife venues from concert halls, theatres and clubs to bars and pubs already work with the deliberate use of a wide variety of lighting moods and settings. This may already be an indication that the quantity and colour of light are also important for a sociable and exuberant atmosphere. Max Keller, head lighting technician and lighting designer at the Münchner Kammerspiele, summarises the process of creating the right lighting mood as follows: „My job is to challenge emotions. Light is never just brightness.“ Today, doctors, chronobiologists and light manufacturers are increasingly recognising that light has a psychological and physiological effect on people, and therefore also on their health. Therefore we ask, can light also replace drugs? Can it stimulate clubbers and influence their behaviour? Current research suggests that it can.

 Light as a substitute for drugs?

The „Lightbox“ project aims to find out whether the use of light as a healthier alternative to substance consumption is possible in everyday club life. After all, many effects can be achieved with the help of light. White and coloured light can have a relaxing or stimulating effect. Numerous other effects are conceivable, but there is little or no research into the specific use of light at night in this context. With the „Lightbox“, connections between lighting moods and the subjective sensations of users are playfully explored and awareness of alternative ways of stimulating the body is emphasised.

The „Lightbox“ is a modular plug-in system that can be used to easily assemble a walk-in box at various locations. Club visitors can take a „Light Shower“ in it, with a variable brightness, intensity and light colour. The light elements are attached to the ceiling of the box. The light source is an LED panel mounted at a certain angle, which can be easily controlled by the user via an interface. Several dynamic lighting scenes are available. Inside the „Lightbox“ is a monitor that displays a countdown of the remaining and further information.

Lighting scenes in the „Lightbox“

The „Lightbox“ project aims to create different moods – corresponding to a range of feelings and emotions that the night-time public also want to experience in clubs, bars and other nightlife venues. In its first design, the project focuses on three basic moods:


This energising lighting mood uses the stimulating effect of bright colours, cool and white light. Specific wavelengths, especially in the visible blue range, act via receptors in the retina. According to current knowledge, this can suppress the body’s own sleep hormone melatonin, which in turn increases subjective alertness. Violet light also has an emotionally stimulating effect. Visitors recharge their inner batteries with this dynamic light and thus prolong their night without chemical substances.

Lazy Bird

This harmonising lighting mood uses the calming effect of warm coloured light. Slow colour changes in the long wavelength range from yellow to orange to red help visitors to feel calm and balanced. At the end of the night, they can prepare the body and mind for the delayed phase of regeneration.


This empathy-stimulating, harmonising lighting mood picks up on the natural effects known from stimulants such as cannabis or MDMA. Saturated light in strong colour contrasts reinforces positive emotions, eliminates all negativity and naturally stimulates togetherness and communication.