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The art of illumination

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Integrated Lighting Design

Bright enough?

Good lighting design is a combination of science and art. The implementation of good lighting design can have spectacular results from bringing a beautiful room to life, entertaining or simply creating the perfect working environment.

As a process, lighting design crosses many areas including electrical, interior design, architecture and regulations. With each project the challenge is different - sometimes it is about choosing the right fittings, other times it can be about colour temperature and evenness throughout a room.

Approaches between lighting designers vary - some focus on the artistic side of lighting and others the more scientific area of light level calculations. We realise that actually both play an important role in modern buildings.

We take the time to work with you and your team to help define which approach is best for you for each part of your project or indeed provide both where spaces require it. Lets look at the two approaches in more detail.

Lighting design as a science
As a science, lighting design is all about calculations and modelling. Firstly, understanding how the space is to be used enables us to determine statutory or desirable light levels required. Understanding what is to be illuminated then becomes very important - some things such as food for example always look better under warm colour temperature whereas when a near perfect colour reproduction is required (say in a design studio) colder colour temperatures are far better.

Colour temperature is important not only to provide the most appropriate light to suit the environment but more importantly because the warmer colour temperature lamps tend to have a lower light output. So when we are designing for a working environment where we need to meet certain light levels, changing a lamp can have a significant impact on the calculations.

Perhaps the best way to think about the science of lighting design is in 3D modelling. We produce 3D models to show the effect of both natural and artificial lighting in a real mock-up of your space taking into account furniture and room decoration. This enables you to see the full effect of different light scenes and shadows cast from any angle.

From here we produce the schedules of light fittings and light level calculations in various forms as evidence of meeting the lighting requirements set out.

Where the building structure prohibits the installation in the exact locations specified, suitable alternative locations can be fed back in to ensure compliance with the overall scheme.

Lighting design as an art
The art in lighting design can be very much tied into the interior design of the building. As a more subjective approach to lighting design much of the effort goes into ensuring the features of the room are darkened or illuminated where required in a particular scene. The use of colour and more elaborate fittings are often used in this approach as the effect of light is more about thinking of a room as a piece of art rather than adhering to strict light level requirements. Using specialised products is also very common to perfectly frame a particular picture with light or change the ambience of a room with careful use of coloured light.

Successful lighting designs using this approach require everyone to work together effectively. It is often a catch-22 situation as until the building comes together, visualising how the spaces will look and feel and thus some of the lighting detail becomes very difficult to plan for. We have seen several customers even change some of the building design to get the right lighting. Whilst this is often frustrating for contractors with schedules and budgets to work to, the right relationship and understanding of the issues from the start can turn potential problems into collaborative solutions and often spectacular ones.

Our library of fittings and lighting systems increases almost daily. We can also produce 3D models in some cases - it is slightly more difficult for this design approach as many fittings aimed at more subjective lighting design do not have associated data files for using in the software. Sometimes we can use similar products which do have data files though to give you a visual reference.

The way we work with people can be different depending on the objectives. Some like to hand us a space and tell us how they would like it to look and feel. Others use us to help supplement existing plans or ask us to implement a very specific (and often complex) lighting plan. With our work in so many other fields we are able to add value and achieve solutions which may otherwise appear almost impossible.

Just a small selection of the manufacturers we work with...

Great Fosters Coach House

When you want to provide a range of modern technology services into a Grade I listed building, who do you turn to? See how we helped blend modern design and building technologies into a historic building.

These terms and technologies may be used, hopefully our guide will help you make sense of them.