Interior and lighting design allows us the opportunity to express ourselves through design. Whether it be an expression of self, corporate identity, a brand or a community, lighting helps to support the design expression that we want to convey. Lighting behaves very differently than building materials, it is a visual storyteller, without it there’s no story to tell.
In order to be able to tell our stories through light, we need to first establish the desired character and mood of the room. Then we can think of lighting as three unique layers: accent, task and ambient. Accent lighting creates ‘highlights’ in the room, it adds the sparkle. Task lighting puts light right where you need it to help you work. Ambient light illuminates the space in general. When approaching your design project, start by identifying the areas to highlight through accent lighting. Once those accent areas have been identified determine where task lighting is needed. Building the ambient lighting of a room after areas for accent and task lighting have been identified will allow you to have more freedom with the overall design. By starting with ambient lighting you may find yourself out of room for accent and task lighting or you can limit your creativity and miss opportunities by feeling that you have already finished the exercise of lighting the room because you already have ambient lighting for the space.
When exploring lighting design we must consider all factors and contributors: daylighting, artificial lighting, controls and shading. Although these factors will come into play in different ways during the time of day, when designed to work together they will enhance the design and function of a space.
When approaching a project it’s important to understand your design requirements and goals so that as the project develops you have a way of evaluating and improving your methods. Making thoughtful design decisions throughout your project will prove to the most valuable in the long-run because they will make your design stand the test of time.