Lighting schemes, they’re everywhere. Some are well designed and thought out and others...not so much. But what’s the difference between a good and bad lighting scheme?
Well, in our opinion...a good scheme is an inconspicuous one. Fixtures shouldn’t be eye catching (unless you’re having a light installed as a design feature in itself say like a pendant), instead you should notice features in the space because the lighting makes them pop. A bad scheme, is a noticeable one...it doesn’t take much practise to spot bad lighting... and when the lighting is out, it can turn a beautiful space into one you don’t want to spend time in.
So, we’ve compiled a little go to guide of top lighting design tips
1) Assess the current situation...
Take a look around the space and see what the natural light levels are. It helps to take the direction of any windows into consideration. South facing spaces typically benefit from direct light all day long, whilst North facing ones get very little to no direct light. East and West facing property will get direct light for a proportion of the day (either morning or evening depending on the direction). Ultimately, the more natural light a space has, the less artificial light you’ll need. Natural light is particularly important in applications such as an art gallery where the full colour spectrum of natural light brings out the colours of the artwork. This is very difficult to replicated with artificial light unless using a high CRI light such as tungsten.
2) Legislation and Regulations
YES it’s a boring one, but it’s a really really important one. Whatever the space is for, there will be building regulations and legislations that you need to consider. Make sure you’re familiar with them and that any fittings in the finished scheme comply with them. Most of these regs are for safety, it’s not worth the risk.
Determine the uses for the space, and the types of activities that will be going on in it. Eg. a hotel room would have multiple potential uses from reading/working, through to leisure and relaxation. Whilst a kitchen area would need ample lighting for focused activities where hazards are present such as cooking.
At this stage, it helps to think a little about layout...where would desks likely be positioned in an office or hotel room? Where will the kitchen island or dining table be going?
4) Start broad, then focus in…
- Ambient lighting - this is the general lighting that provides uniform and comfortable LUX levels across the whole space. This is usually some form of downlight or panel.
- Accent lighting - accent lighting is the bit that makes the features pop. It’s used to highlight architectural or interior design features and create the right ambience. In an art gallery for example, accent lighting would be used to draw focus to the pieces on display and likewise in a store to displays or feature products. Where-as in a lobby area, small spotlights could be recessed into the sides running up a staircase to emphasise its design (it also helps for safety too).
- Task lighting - This is the lighting for the bits where people really need to see what they’re doing. Task lighting is key in offices and other environments where productivity and concentration is essential such as hospitals and operating theaters (regulations mentioned earlier would come into play here). Flexibility and adjustability are also needed so the user can alter positioning and lux levels for their comfort - making this a provision helps to prevent eye strain in users and has been known to increase productivity in working/office environments.
Look around, does the new scheme flow? The transition between application areas should be seamless not jarring. The best way to achieve this is to create scenes using layering. In a residential application such as a living room for example, this could be done by having downlights or pendants as your main ambient and then include Floor or desk lamps in application areas.
Oh and one last thing….
Minimalism is more. The ideal is to have just enough fittings and luminaires to create the desired effect and give optimum lux output. Strike the balance and you’re onto a winner.