An Understandable Guide to Good Lighting Design

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Life in Southern California is split between the interiors of our homes and the exterior. Blessed with sunshine and blue skies, warm days and cool breezes, our homes becoming living breathing entities of our lives. As you look up into the hills of LA each night or down from the airplane window as you land at LAX, take a moment to see the lights coming from all the homes and stop to take it all in. Los Angeles appreciates great architecture, great design, and great environments—but there is one element in design that we often forget about—electric lighting and lighting design. Lighting design is apart of our everyday movements and it is crucial to curating great design.

Lighting Lesson #1: Principles of Good Lighting Design

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is your overall lighting, it’s the lighting level that creates the general mood of the interior, be it bright and open or dark and moody, think ambiance. The purpose of architecture and design is to form an experience, a particular feeling or mood that guides us through a space and transforms the user.

In a grand theatre this is more obvious to people. Users are able to make an emotional and mental connection between the music and changing environment. Why should our homes be any different? Ambient lighting levels are our first indication of what we are supposes to feel while moving through a space. In residential design, a good lighting design should be controllable. Mornings and evenings not only create different natural lighting conditions, but different lighting needs—ambient electric lighting should support this.

How to use Ambient Lighting throughout your home

In the initial design phase, it is crucial to establish a lighting design goal. This goal should state particular moods you want to create throughout the home; is it a study with low ambient lighting where task lighting will be more important, or it a kitchen where the overall lighting of the space needs to be at a comfortable work level with a potential programmed system that will control other uses such as solar shades or accent lighting. These are important consideration to make early on. Lighting should never be an after thought, it should be considered throughout the design process.

Remember, have fun with this part of the design process—go to hotels and restaurants, check out the lighting throughout—if you like it, why? What mood is it creating? Do you want to recreate this feeling in your space? While Ambient Lighting is not the “exciting” part of a lighting design, it is an initial and crucial element.


AUTHOR - Rebecca Johnston

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