Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Overlooked: Lighting

With every project comes an element that is overlooked. In the Overlooked series, I will discuss elements of design that can easily become afterthoughts for small projects.
When I think of lighting, I think of four different types. The first type is what people generally think of: general lighting that provides an overall illumination. This is lighting that allows us to see a space. It is generally created by ceiling mounted or wall mounted fixtures that do not posses much character.
The second type is accent lighting which is used to highlight feature areas, such as art or a wallcovering. This type of lighting can often be overlooked until the feature is installed. Architectural lighting could fit here.
Next is task lighting. Task lighting is used to help us work and see certain spaces more efficiently. This could be a reading lamp, an under-cabinet light, or track lighting. These lights can also be considered afterthoughts.
The last type of lighting is what I call character lighting, and this is the type of lighting I consider to be one of the most overlooked of all lighting. Character lighting (inspirational photo's below) is lighting that acts as it's own feature. If it had to fit into one of the first three, I would consider it accent lighting. This lighting calls attention to a space by calling attention to itself. It must be considered in the beginning phases of a project in order to work effectively. Architectural lighting could fall into this category, as well.
Photo by: Louise Stickland
111 Buckingham Palace Road, London

Photo by: ©David Morrell, courtesy Lighting Technology Projects
London Eye

Photo by: Henning Jobst Photography
Riley Hospital, Indiana

Photo by: Creative Lighting Asia Ltd.
The Garden Hotel, China

To avoid overlooking elements in design, think of how you envision the entire space, completed. What makes up that space? Create a list of everything you see. Even if the project budget may not allow for things, do not leave anything out. You never know when you could inspire someone else to think bigger.