Guide to Lighting Design and Lighting Control

What is Lighting Design

The foundation of lighting design is, unsurprisingly, knowledge of light which is technical and scientific. For example, a lighting designer will understand the different types of light sources, for example; LED, Halogen, Fluorescent, etc; the colour temperature scale of light, measured in Kelvins; beam angles of a light source and techniques for altering the light to suit a purpose, for example, using filters. However, a good lighting designer not only uses their technical knowledge but also their artistic skills to imagine the final look and feel of a space and this is more difficult to teach in a guide.

Unless you use a professional lighting designer when you are building a new home or undergoing a renovation, the process of lighting design is often over looked resulting in lighting which is functional but does not take into account the architectural features of the space nor how the space is used. As Lighting Designers and Smart Home experts, we are often approached during the planning of a new build, extension or renovation of a home by homeowners knowing they obviously need lighting but not knowing how to go about it.

We have therefore written this guide to explain the importance of lighting design as well as the benefits of intelligent lighting control in controlling the final lighting simply and consistently. Rather than tackling the whole house, we use the following brief that we are often presented with as an example.

We are extending the ground floor of our house, creating a large open plan kitchen/dining room area with bi-folding doors onto our garden and we would like mood lighting.

Example of Lighting Design in an open plan Kitchen/Dining area

We would normally start our lighting design by understanding how the space is used, when it is used and who uses the space. Then we would understand the physical layout of the space; the location of furnishings, features and points of interest; the proposed interior design scheme, surface materials and finally, we look at what light will already be in the space either directly from the sun or from reflections off buildings, etc and whether this can be used to compliment artificial light or whether the natural light needs to be controlled.

For our example, the lighting design discovered that the new kitchen/dining area is primarily to be used by the couple and their two young children. Currently, in the mornings, the children often make their own breakfasts and eat at the breakfast bar whereas in the evening the family always sit at the dining table for their evening family meal. Occasionally the family have dinner parties with close friends and want to impress them in the new area. The family also have some original art work along with some nice ornaments they collected during their travels which they would like to display prominently.

The space itself is 8m by 4m with a lower than standard flat ceiling, the layout is fairly rectangle with the exception of a shallow recess which the family want to board up. The existing kitchen will remain in the existing area and the extension is to become the new dining area with a large round table which will become the centre piece of the area. The only natural light will be through the new 4m wide bi-fold doors which faces due south looking out to their landscaped garden and backs onto uninterrupted views of open countryside. The area will be decorated in very light almost white colours with the exception of a feature wall which will have grey textured stone tiles. The family's artwork is very modern with bright colours. The look the couple would like to achieve is very contemporary.