Set the mood, Quincy Style

It’s not Bungalow 8, folks, it’s Quincy Dining hall—the new and improved version, that is. Patrons of this fine Plympton

It’s not Bungalow 8, folks, it’s Quincy Dining hall—the new and improved version, that is. Patrons of this fine Plympton Street establishment will have noticed a further addition to the space since its summer renovation: a two-row, five-panel set of “mood lights,” unveiled this past week, which adorn the formerly blank wall to the left of the food area upon entering.

These panels of lights, almost 10 feet in total length, can be set to any rhythmic frequency, and can alternate in and out of any color in the spectrum. They can even be set to follow the rhythms of a piece of music (Donna Summers anyone?). There is so much room for variation, in fact, that the house has encouraged Quincy residents to discover their artistic sides by being light guru for a day, trying their hand at controlling the colors and pattern of the lights.

The only stipulation? That the color changes in the lights be kept to a relatively slow, soothing rhythm, as faster patterns “can cause problems for anybody who has a neurological problem with epilepsy or migraines. So we’re going to more gradual pattern melding rather than Bap! Bap! Bap!,” House Master Robert Kirshner wrote in an email.

The project is the brainchild of Kirshner’s wife, co-master Jayne Loader—“mastermind of the moody lights,” as Kirshner calls her—who saw the lights featured in an article on experimental designers in the New York Times. The lights, popular in Manhattan bars and discos, appealed to Kirshner and Loader in large part due to their sturdy nature.

According to the couple, the major pitch from sales people is that “People throw drinks on them, and you just wipe ‘em off,” no harm done. On a college campus, as one can imagine, the durability of any piece of public art is essential to its survival.

The choice of these lights was not only a product of the kitchen renovations—the plans included a blank wall, with the suggestion that some artwork could be placed there—but is also part and parcel of Loader’s larger plan of how Quincy House should look and feel. Since her arrival there three years ago, Loader has served as an interior decorator of sorts, making stylistic choices about the furniture and décor of all the House’s public spaces. In general, she looks to give the house “as much modern art and design as possible,” finding pieces that compliment each other, “all in keeping with the spirit of this fine mid-century building.”

Of her own role, Loader admitted to being something of a Quincy House Martha Stewart—“before her indictment, of course.”

Want some mood lights of your own, to set the right tone at a party or perhaps to lure that special someone? Be careful – at 350 big ones a panel, the lights may end up costing you a pretty penny. And a final thought: when attempting to woo a member of the opposite sex with your swank new lights, refrain from setting them to a fast color pattern. Nothing like a migraine or a seizure to kill the mood.