Connect with us

NXTLVL Experience Design

Episode 23: Mariana Figueiro

Let There Be Light with Mariana Figueiro – Professor and Head of the Light and Health Research Center at Mount Sinai




Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

Mariana Figueiro is passionate about light. She is a TEDMed speaker alumni, and a professor in the Department of Population Health Science and Policy at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai where she also leads the Light and Health Research Center. She conducts research on the effect of light on human health, circadian photobiology, and lighting for older adults. She is the author of more than 120 scientific articles in her field of research. Mariana Figueiro and host David Kepron talk about lighting and its powerful effects on our health and our sense of wellbeing.


LinkedIn Profile:


Mariana G. Figueiro, PhD, was with the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY from 1998-2020, where she served as Director from 2017-2020. She was also a tenured Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 2006-2020. She was recently hired by the Department of Population Health Science and Policy at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to start and lead the Light and Health Research Center at Mount Sinai. She conducts research on the effect of light on human health, circadian photobiology, and lighting for older adults. She is the author of more than 120 scientific articles in her field of research. She is a Fellow of the Illuminating Engineering Society. She has brought attention to the significance of light and health as a topic of public interest through her recent TEDMED talk.


Show Intro:

What does Lingerie worn by French Women in the late 1800’s and Gothic cathedrals have in common?

You might say the remarkable detail, the silken lace spun in intricate patterns and the fine carved stone that was hewn by the hands a skilled mason.

You might say the forms – compounding curves and angles.

You might say that each was never really quite a good fit for human bodies – one too small and the other so soaring that it dwarfed human scale as if to make obvious the distance between man and the divine.

Or you may say none of these.


If you were a particularly hulking 6’2” 285 pound Frenchman living at that time, you say it had to do with light. Because for most of 1882, he stood in the window on the second floor of a building, about an hour north of Paris – a French Lingerie shop – where French women would try and buy the latest of French women’s underwear.

Very much out of place, he stood there amidst the delicate lace and ladies of the time, because it was the best place to view what captivated him from that vantage point.

The Cathedral of Rouen. A building stood across the road from the place where Claude Monet tried to understand light. With as many as ten canvases around him, he would move from image to image looking out of the second-floor window as light fell across the surfaces of the Rouen cathedral. From morning until dusk he worked until packing up his canvases and heading back to his home in Giverny in at the end of 1883.

In all, Monet painted more than 30 canvases. Each holding light in a suspended animation. Monet had painted multiple views of the same subject before. But the paintings of Rouen Cathedral were a master stoke at seeing how light changed our perception of our surroundings.

In 1894 Claude Monet finished his series of paintings. During the previous year he often fell into despair, telling his wife “‘Things don’t advance very steadily, primarily because each day I discover something I hadn’t seen the day before… In the end, I am trying to do the impossible.”

Years later, the famous French Architect Le Corbusier focused on a similar fascination with light and framed the issue of understanding it this way: “Space and Light and order are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.”




David Kepron is a multifaceted creative professional with a deep curiosity to understand ‘why’, ‘what’s now’ and ‘what’s next’. He brings together his background as an architect, artist, educator, author, podcast host and builder to the making of meaningful and empathically-focused, community-centric customer connections at brand experience places around the globe.

David is a former VP – Global Design Strategies at Marriott International. While at Marriott, his focus was on the creation of compelling customer experiences within Marriott’s “Premium Distinctive” segment which included: Westin, Renaissance, Le Meridien, Autograph Collection, Tribute Portfolio, Design Hotels and Gaylord hotels.

In 2020 Kepron founded NXTLVL Experience Design, a strategy and design consultancy, where he combines his multidisciplinary approach to the creation of relevant brand engagements with his passion for social and cultural anthropology, neuroscience and emerging digital technologies.

As a frequently requested international speaker at corporate events and international conferences focusing on CX, digital transformation, retail, hospitality, emerging technology, David shares his expertise on subjects ranging from consumer behaviors and trends, brain science and buying behavior, store design and visual merchandising, hotel design and strategy as well as creativity and innovation. In his talks, David shares visionary ideas on how brand strategy, brain science and emerging technologies are changing guest expectations about relationships they want to have with brands and how companies can remain relevant in a digitally enabled marketplace.

David currently brings his creativity and insight on brand experiences to an international audience as a member of VMSD magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board, as a Board Member of the Interactive Customer Experience Association (ICXA) and Sign Research Foundation’s (SRF) Program Committee.

He has held teaching positions at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.), the Department of Architecture & Interior Design of Drexel University in Philadelphia, the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (L.I.M.) in New York, the International Academy of Merchandising and Design in Montreal and he served as the Director of the Visual Merchandising Department at LaSalle International Fashion School (L.I.F.S.) in Singapore.

In 2014 Kepron published his first book titled: “Retail (r)Evolution: Why Creating Right-Brain Stores Will Shape the Future of Shopping in a Digitally Driven World” and he is currently working on his second book to be published soon. David also writes a popular blog called “Brain Food” which is published monthly on

In September of 2020, he launched the “NXTLVL Experience Design” podcast which brings listeners dialogues about “DATA: Design, Architecture, Technology and the Arts.” His guests include thought leaders who are driven by a passion to create the ‘New Possible’ and promote new paradigms of experiences into the mainstream.



MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

Promoted Headlines

Most Popular