Implementing Effective Lighting

This post answers the following questions

1) What forms the foundation of any interior?
2) Why is it vital to understand the different forms of lighting?
3) What is the main and most basic level of lighting?
4) Why task lighting is often used within offices and other professional environments?
5) Where can you use decorative lighting?

Lighting forms the foundation of any interior and can be used to influence mood, productivity and aesthetic appearance. Therefore, when planning any interior, it is vital to understand the different forms of lighting and how they can be used.

Ambient Lighting

Usually in the form of ceiling or wall lights, ambient lighting is the main and most basic level of lighting. With the purpose of enabling us to see into a room, orientate ourselves and perform tasks – unless specifically designed to be decorative – ambient lighting alone may appear bland.

Ambient lighting may vary in form depending on its setting,  for example, fluorescent linear lighting is often used to create the overall lighting in classrooms and supermarkets. However, this form of lighting is unlikely to be used within a residential setting or in certain commercial buildings such as relaxing spas and chic coffee shops.

Although ambient lighting is the most basic form of lighting and is often used in conjunction with other lighting forms, its application should be carefully considered as it can be used to influence the overall mood of an interior. In order to create a relaxed feel within a space, it is important to increase the brightness of the rooms’ surfaces – particularly the upper walls and ceiling. In contrast, illuminating the floor but not the walls or ceiling will create a sense of drama within the space.

shabby chic lighting

Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lightyearsdk/5862519249/

Task Lighting

Task lighting is most commonly found in the form of lamps – varying in design depending upon its intended purpose. Often used within offices and other professional environments, task lighting is used in addition to ambient lighting to create the required level of illumination to fulfil tasks. For instance, homes, warehouses and general offices require 100-200 lux whereas supermarkets and places of mechanical work require 750 lux and operating theatres and drawing studios – where more strenuous tasks are preformed – require 750-1,000 lux.

The position of task lighting should be considered so to reduce glare and veiling reflections – therefore increasing comfort to the user whilst reducing the amount of strain out on the eyes by reflections and other light sources. Ideally, the best placement for task lighting in any room is located between the users head and the work surface.

Decorative Lighting

Decorative lighting is seen as the jewellery of architecture. Designed to catch the eye and make a statement about style or wealth, decorative lighting can take the form of chandeliers, pendants and sconces as well as lanterns, fairy lights and LEDs.

The form of decorative lighting can vary depending on its placement. For example, a crystal chandelier may be hung over a large dining table or in a grand reception hall whereas shabby chic lighting such as decorative lamps would be more at home in a cosy coffee shop.

Unfortunately, with the focus of decorative lighting being on its appearance, they are generally poor at emitting light – therefore, it is common not to use decorative lighting as the sole lighting source within a space. However, any form of ambient or task lighting can be made decorative without too much compromise on performance by the use of decorative elements such as shades or fittings that do not distort the light bulb.

By Sarah-Jayne Culver

Junior Digital Marketing Consultant at FDC

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