Published on 12 June 2019 13:43

Five Top Lighting Design Tips

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Key Learning outcomes
  • Read key pointers when planning lighting layouts
  • Learn the importance of layering light and what it brings to a scheme
  • Understand what to look for when selecting LEDs
  • Think about creating different zones in larger spaces
  • And finally understand the difference good lighting control brings to a scheme
Lighting is one of the most powerful interior design tools. It can change the mood and atmosphere of interiors and landscapes at the touch of a button to literally decorate with light. With LEDs now lasting longer than before, it is more important than ever to consider the lighting design and the fittings you choose carefully as your clients will live with them for longer.

We’ve all been to a restaurant and found the lighting to be inadequate for reading the menu, or in the bathrooms there is a spot light directly above the basins leading to a very unflattering and uncomfortable effect onto the face. To avoid these situations, lighting needs to be carefully considered and planned in conjunction with the interiors and architecture of the building. The very best lighting schemes are those which go unnoticed. When entering a space, your attention should be drawn to the various features within the room such as the artwork, furniture and architectural elements, not to the source of the light. Of course, the decorative lighting needs to create a statement and should be selected to complement the interior style, but the functional lighting should remain largely anonymous.

1.0 Planning the lighting layouts

The one rule in lighting is to steer clear of the classic grid of downlights on the ceiling. This throws an even blanket of light over the room, resulting in a very flat and lifeless effect. Always think of both light and shadow when designing a scheme; both are equally important. If everything was lit with a blanket illumination there would be no depth and texture to the space - shadow allows the elements which are lit to stand out with intensity and become the focus of attention. The two main factors to consider when planning the layouts are; 1) the room and its various intricacies, and 2) the people who will be using the space (the end user). Good design should be a bespoke solution centrally focussed on these two elements. For perfect results, the client needs to be heavily involved or consulted as part of the design process. If this doesn’t happen, you will end up with a lighting scheme that just doesn’t work for how they live and the lighting can become a frustration.

Furniture layouts are really important so a lighting designer can design the right scheme. If one doesn’t know where the dining table will be positioned, there is a chance that someone could end up with a downlight directly above their head while seated and no one would appreciate this!. A more considered way of lighting would be to focus light onto a vase of flowers in the centre of the table instead. Some clients struggle to visualise how they will use a space before the house is built but it is best to get positions confirmed then you can ensure the lighting really works to transform the space. For key pieces of art, locations should be confirmed so that it can be specifically lit and highlighted. Wall, floor and joinery finishes can all influence the design. Light colours will reflect light back into the room whereas the darker finishes will absorb more of the light. It seems simple but it can make a big difference to the final design.

With every light that is added to the design, try to justify why it is there? What is its purpose? To provide task lighting / accent light to a feature? If you do not have a good reason for why a light is on the layout then, is it really needed?
Avoid grids of downlights.  Instead position them carefully to light your artwork, wash light down curtains or pinspot the centre of a coffee table.
Avoid grids of downlights. Instead position them carefully to light your artwork, wash light down curtains or pinspot the centre of a coffee table.
 
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London
SW6 2EB
Sarah Roberts
Tel + (0) 20 7371 5400
CPD@johncullenlighting.co.uk
The information contained in the CPD article web pages is not intended and accordingly shall not be relied upon either as a substitute for professional advice or judgement or to provide legal or other advice with respect to any particular circumstance. RIBA Enterprises accepts no responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the information contained.
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