Interior lighting: floor up or ceiling down?
I have taught Lighting at many different colleges all over the UK, mostly at degree level, on courses studying interior architecture, interior design and 3-D design. During that time I have honed eight simple rules that I ask students to follow in order to create a design-led lighting environment for their projects.
Daylight – More windows or fewer?
Consider how the space will look in natural light at different times of the day and year, whether there will be a need to control the daylight with blinds or other mechanisms, and how the varying brightness and colours of daylight will affect the space.
What is the theme, the look and feel you are aiming for? How can light be used to enhance that? Which lighting/architectural technique or which colour of light is most appropriate?
Start the plan with light in the right place so that the space can function effectively – this could be as simple as allowing for task lighting for a desk or as complicated as designing an entire artist’s studio with variable light according to the latitude and longitude of their galleries – then build up layers from there to create a more complete space.
Use more than one technique so that a lit picture can emerge that can be changed at different times of the day to make the space feel different according to personal preference or practical needs
Balance brightness; control glare
For much of the time the natural world looks right even though there are many different levels of brightness. For this technique to work with artificial light it is essential ensure that the brightness does not cause glare. This is effectively worked through using a 3D model and lighting design software such as AGI32.
Overlay the ceiling and floor plans
It seems obvious, but it is easy to get carried away with a ceiling design theme without considering how it relates to the floor plan beneath. So overlay the two or build it in 3D.
Detail, detail, detail
If the estate agent’s mantra is location, location, location, then the interior lighting designer’s should be to ensure that the details work. Check the size of the product, how it is fixed, how it can be integrated with the structure, and how it can be maintained – whether it is a set of illuminated shelves or a backlit ceiling – all require impeccable detailing.
Natural light varies enormously from time of day to time of year – to make us human beings feel more comfortable, artificial light should be able to vary too. Controls – whether linked to a group of switches or dimmers or a state of the art remote control device – are an essential tool in achieving this.
Light is an inexpensive finish
In comparison to other finishes, altering the lighting effects are usually the most cost-effective way to make a space feel different. So do not overlight. Have an eye on the final lit ‘picture’.