What is Lighting? And Why Do I Need a Lighting Designer?
Lighting is an important aspect of interior design as it enhances the aesthetic appeal and creates the mood and ambiance of a living space. Lighting fixtures that illuminate a room creates a safe and comfortable environment besides adding style to the interior décor. Light is the main element that gives the room a special look and transforms it into a seamless combination of functionality and style.
Light is also a powerful tool that can enhance the built environment via the careful use and interplay of light and space, light and form, light and surfaces, light and texture, light and colour and most importantly, light and people.
A successful scheme can enhance or reinterpret a space, it can also support brand values, enhance productivity, improve well being, provide drama and dictate ambience. Even the dullest of spaces can be improved by a well-considered lighting scheme.
No matter what the project, the best lighting designs come from having mastered the medium and being able to combine art, science and technology to be the most desirable space of project owner to feel belong and embraced in that space.
So, why should I pay for a lighting designer?
A lighting designer will analyse your space, the users and their needs in order to provide a holistic lighting solution that considers many factors like glare, visual comfort, your budget, energy consumption, the environment, lighting standards, and light pollution among other aspects.
Isn't the lighting done by the architect or the engineer?
In the best of worlds, yes. There are indeed many skilled architects who understand the importance of vertical illumination or how light affect the spatial perception of a space. Likewise, many engineers are well versed in concepts like LOR, the inverse square law or lux levels. A lighting designer will bridge the gap between the aesthetical and technical aspects of light and lighting to create a lighting solution that integrates as well with the architecture as it does with engineering services.
Why can't a supplier do the design for me?
They could, and quite possibly will do the design, for free. A supplier's limitation lies within the range they carry while an independent lighting designer can use any product available on the market. That assures lower total cost for you as the client while attaining a better performing lighting installation thanks to a wider range of products to choose from.
More importantly, suppliers earn their living by selling light fittings. More Light Fittings = More Money. At the same time, more light fittings mean more light which does not necessarily mean a better design. Rather it is more likely to mean wasting light, wasting energy, wasting carbon dioxide and wasting money - your money.
An independent lighting designer does not earn a cent off the light fittings and only has one focus: To provide the best possible lighting solution for you and your needs, within your budget.
It's going to cost me a lot!
Like any professional, be it a dentist or a lawyer, a lighting designer comes at a cost. There are many ways this cost will recover itself:
1. Energy savings. A carefully planned lighting installation may save significant amounts of energy compared to a not so well planned installation. For existing installations this can be significant enough to give you a very short ROI.
2. Increased sales. Whether your shop is a suburban mega mall or a quaint hipster hangout, the right lighting will help you attract customers into your store, focus and highlight the products while making them appear as attractive as possible which will eventually have positive effects on your sales.
3. Reduced sick days. Lighting can directly affect alertness and stress. By reducing stress and increasing visual comfort people will feel better and be less likely to be absent from work.
4. Improved productivity. The right light for the right task will assist staff to do their work faster and with fewer errors. Light that varies with the natural course of the day will also stimulate the people in a space and increase creativity well-being. Too much light will on the other hand not lead to increased productivity and glare may be detrimental or even directly dangerous for the staff.
5. Reduced maintenance. Old installations can be heavy in maintenance with light sources failing frequently and significant accumulation of dirt on reflectors and diffusers. Modern lighting equipment have significantly longer service life than it had only 15 years ago and the service occasions can be better planned and budgeted. The light fittings may even be able to tell you when they need service.
But I don't care about lights.
Perhaps not, but your body and wallet still does. So do people around you. There is plenty of research performed around the world regarding the effects of light on stress, orientation and circadian cycles that control alertness and rest. By creating the right mood and focussing on the right products, lighting can also increase sales and productivity in shops or workplaces which will affect the bottom line. So if you want to feel better at work or home while making sure your money stays with you, it could be well worth looking at your lighting.