Lighting is the finishing touch to any well-designed building. The skill of lighting design is now a recognized profession, although many of us still make do with the old fashioned suspended light bulb in the centre of the room.
Good lighting design is all about literally showing off a building in the best lights. As well as providing the best illumination, good lighting design will take account of ecological factors, efficiency and the aesthetic appearance of the lights themselves.
We are becoming more aware of lighting design – up and down lighters are becoming more common for example, but many homes are still designed with the standard dangling bulb.
Psychology behind Effective Lighting Design
The roots of lighting design lie in physics. In 1860 a British scientist called John Tyndall was working on a glacier when he first observed that shining more light on something did not always make it more visible.
However, it took some time for Tyndall’s discovery to filter through to architectural lighting design. Through the 20th century, the spread of cheap electricity through society meant that a more-is-better philosophy dominated the thinking behind lighting design. The iconic sight of the American city was of brightly illuminated skyscrapers even if those skyscrapers were empty.
Lighting design did become more sophisticated. Concerns about energy use lead to the use of more daylight. Designers also came to recognize that much of the electricity used in illuminating buildings was waster – there was massive overkill in lighting.
Lighting has a practical role, to provide the right level of illumination for the room’s purpose, whether that be working or just relaxing, at a level that is comfortable for the occupants. The lighting should also be attractive in itself as well as efficient and environmentally friendly.
The best lighting design goes beyond this to become part of the attraction of the room and the best practice in lighting design is to involve lighting designers early in the process of designing a room or building.
Daylight is the first consideration in lighting design. Then the materials used in the room’s design should be considered. A room that is finished in dark wood, for example, will take a lot more lighting to achieve the same level of brightness as a similar space finished in light colours.
The lighting should also be designed to complement the finish of the room. Architects usually specify plaster lights – they blend with the commonest wall finishing material, can be easily painted to fit any colour scheme and are heat and fire resistant.
Plaster is also capable of a much better quality finish than the other commonest finishes, ceramics and metals. That means cast, curved lights and even very elaborate luminaries can be produced to the best possible quality and finish. Plaster lights are also well suited to low energy lighting systems.
Indirect lighting needs more thought than a simple central light bulb. The surfaces from which light will be reflected must be considered as must any obstacles to the lighting scheme.
Research suggests that good lighting, maximizing the exposure to daylight and avoiding ‘over lighting’ can have a positive impact on worker’s productivity, student exam results and even patient recovery in hospital. At home, you’ll feel better with better lighting. Bad lighting can cause tiredness and headaches.
The science of lighting design is still evolving. Physics and biology are explaining how we see things and designers are incorporating this knowledge into their work.
While the science moves on, one of our most ancient building materials – plaster – remains the unbeatable best for curved lights.
Hope you’ve learnt one or two things about having your home lighting design planned before embarking on constructing the structure? If YES, please share this article with your friends and loved ones so that they too could benefit fr0m what you’ve benefited from. I trust you’d help spread the news 🙂