Jerry Jacobs Design | Oculus Eye. Architecture. Interior Design. | Jerry Jacobs Design
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Oculus Eye. Architecture. Interior Design.

Oculus an Eye. Architecture. Interior Design.

Oculus: Eye, denotes a circular opening in the centre of a dome or in a wall.

In Latin Oculus is Eye.

The most famous Architectural Oculus is in the dome of the Pantheon, Rome. It acts as an eye, allowing you to see, and lets the light in. When you want natural light or to see out, no problem, the Oculus is the solution!
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The central point of the Pantheon is far above visitors heads. A great eye, or oculus, in the room. It looks small, but it’s 27ft (9m) across and the source of all light in the building, serving as a symbol of the sun as the source of all light on Earth. Rain that comes through collects in a drain in the center of the floor; the stone and moisture keep the interior cool through the summer. Every year, on June 21st, the rays of the sun at the summer equinox shines from the oculus through the front door.

Naturally such an attractive name and sound has become the name for a Game or Product. Certainly part of its appeal. Never tried it.  The name has been used recently also to baptise Santiago Calatrava’s NY WTC Station.


Our Blog concentrates in what a single round source of light or light effect can mean to Architecture or Interior Design. Similarly we make mention of other Oculus types that we believe come from the same source of inspiration and relate to the true Oculus.

Jerry Jacobs DesignRecently I discovered this image from a ceiling dome we had faux finished years ago at a Silicon Valley Manor project. If you look at your ceiling and see a round opening of the Sky it is an Oculus, or at least you hope so when it is Faux.


1st Place “Oculus”

The 2017 World’s Sony Photography award selected an Oculus Photograph, for the 1st. place winner.

The World’s Best Architectural Photographs Selected by 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

1st Place: Oculus / Tim Cornbill, UK. Image © Tim Cornbill, United Kingdom, 1st Place, Open, Architecture, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards.

Oculus Designs. In Jerry Jacobs Design Architecture and Interior Design projects.

Below are some examples of what we at Jerry Jacobs Design have tried to do in our Architecture and Interior Design work with the Oculus as an inspiration.

Oculus Jerry Jacobs Jerry Jacobs Design

When you have a wall that needs a window, but you can’t do a window (for one of many reasons), an option is a Trompe-l’œil window: a faux Oculus in this case. We asked the owners our clients first, if we could open a round window, above the main entrance. They said NO, you know construction, dust, so we proposed an alternative they loved. Sorry no natural light in this case. At “Casa del Alamo” Foyer. Alamo, California. Art by Villafranca Studio, San Francisco.

Oculus Jerry Jacobs Jerry Jacobs Design

We created a street entrance at Casa de Gobierno, an Hacienda style Villa on the Beach for a Country star. In this case we incorporated a true Oculus to accentuate the entrance. The Camel hump is always an excellent shape to lighten by introducing a circle opening. On the Beach, Cancun, Mexico.


Oculus Bar Jerry Jacobs Jerry Jacobs Design

There was a window inside a closet, so when we converted the closet into a wet bar open at a corner we did a porthole in the cabinetry, creating an Oculus in the wine storage section. It did not waste the odd shape window that was there and brought natural light to the Bar. At Buena Vista Park, Penthouse, San Francisco, California.

It the Atrium’s vaulted ceiling we  created 2 Oculus to let light in They are oval though.

Jerry Jacobs Design

Oculus Jerry Jacobs Jerry Jacobs Design At the Hall of Mirrors Bath, we really didn’t need any light. However, after doing the wall to wall mirrors we added an Oculus mirror frame. Whether you go through the Oculus or the main mirror, infinity is not that far away. Hellman Residence, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, California.

Jerry Jacbos Oculus Jerry Jacobs DesignBecause at the Polanco pied-à-terre we couldn’t have used an Oculus in the ceiling, due to another apartment above, consequently we did a cupola. The bottom round opening is Oculus-like. While the Pendant light too is round and has a central open core, or eye  more of an Oculus. 

Jerry Jacobs DesignWe discovered the Oculus pair buried in the roof openings at Villa “T”. Consequently we enhanced them with frosted glass on top and Gold wallpaper on their  interior sides, then a Faux tile molding  was added by Carlo Marchiori who also did the mural on left. Painting on right by Claus Eben.

Portholes and Round Windows.

Portholes are simply round windows. Almost always “Holes” they are meant to be small. See portholes in the store below at the top left side.

I started a series of small portholes with NO LIGHT in them, (not true Oculus), but here is the example anyway. They became my in store signature-decor at for the 200+ ACA JOE stores. In the case below when the Brand’s logo became round the pair matched the eyes.

While I included my pair of Portholes on the curved soffits over the dressing rooms, as Joe had asked me for a Gray color as in military ships or so. Looking at my curved soffit I said why not add two portholes. I add portholes and round windows when I can, also makes sense sometimes.

AJ Coyoacan Jerry Jacobs DesignJerry Jacobs Design

ACA Joe stores 1980-2000, the 250 or so we designed had a pair of Port-holes as part of the soffit, the “Gray Ship coming into port”

1949 Air Float Trailer Jerry Jacobs Design

This 28″ “Air Float” travel trailer from 1949 at the Tiburon Concourse Auto show 2017, shows the Art Deco inspired portholes.

Unique and Compelling Round Windows for Every Room. Decoist

Round windows are a surprising and dynamic element that takes the room away from the traditional and predictable decor into a soft fluid area where round shapes are contributing to the diversity among the windows of the house.

Examples from work by other Architects and designers follows.

Two examples of Non-Round Oculus. They are in this case beautiful and strategic natural lighting sources, however not the Classic round Oculus.

Tunnels to the Sky.

Jerry Jacobs DesignTunnels to the Sky, by Seth Vane.

Look at tunnels to the Sky or Italy’s hidden Courtyards. In this case it is the same as the Pantheon, though different shape size and times, but so classically beautiful that I couldn’t resist including. These beautiful photographs by Seth Vane show another type of Oculus, or Eyes of light from the Sky. In addition to the photographs being beautiful, it is an inspiration. I have always maintained that Oculus are round, and that they are like eyes, and I haven’t seen any square eyes, yet some other descriptions are worth while looking at. To see the set of photographs by Seth Vane click on the link below the photo above.

Santiago Calatrava (Star Architect Switzerland). WTC transportation hub, would be by far the most recent and largest Oculus. It is not Round, nor an eye. It is a skylight, yes with eye-lids on top. Eyes our round.

Links and Sources.