Lighting design with Mike Thorburn

GRA Globes by B. Rainaldi for Terzani.

GRA Globes by B. Rainaldi for Terzani.

New Zealand lighting luminary Mike Thorburn talks mood and shade.

Lighting is more than illumination. It’s an essential component in creating an ambient mood and in ensuring a room can be enjoyed in the desired manner. Gone are the days of simplistic lighting when all that was required was a single light fitting in the middle of each room. Lighting design has evolved to reflect an ever-diversifying array of tastes and lifestyles. New technologies have widened what’s possible still further. Given this, it makes eminent sense to use a specialist lighting designer with the experience and knowledge to create the best lighting design for your home.

Working with your lighting designer

A lighting designer will absorb your brief in as much detail as possible. They will then take you through what they recommend for each space, covering light fitting type and placement, taking into account all aspects of architecture and design.

It’s wise to involve a lighting designer early in the house design process before building work begins. This allows time to consider fittings and other lighting elements that may need to be integrated into room construction or interior design. There may also be regulatory requirements to consider, particularly relating to some building types and recessed fixtures. Make sure you provide as much detail as you can, like architectural plans including elevations, interior layouts plus a description of the desired mood and personality of each room or area in the home.

Soft Spun Large by Sebastion Wrong for Flos Soft Architecture.

Soft Spun Large by Sebastion Wrong for Flos Soft Architecture.

The latest in lighting

1. LED lights
In recent years, led technology has become increasingly popular in homes around the world. Better performance and lower costs make this an attractive and versatile option. LED lamps are being utilised right across the spectrum of light fittings, from downlights to table lamps and pendants.

The quality of light from Brightgreen LED downlights now reaches a colour ‘temperature’ that is close to natural daylight. This allows your interiors to look as good as possible. The longevity of these fittings means that you may never have to change a light bulb again. Their average LED light has a life of 70,000 hours. That’s close to 30 years of use. LED lamps also use less energy. As a consequence, an installation of Brightgreen LED downlights will pay for themselves in less that three years.

2. Decorative pendants
Lighting rooms using multiple downlights has been the standard formula for a number of years. However designers are finding that more and more people are seeking an alternative solution.

One noticeable trend is the return of the decorative pendant. As a style of lighting, this has been largely ignored for many years. However, it is now featuring in more designs and new product releases. Within decorative pendant design, there is a trend towards materials like steel, concrete and wood. Exquisitely shaped and finished, these add a raw, natural feel. A prevalence of gold adds to the glamour with its rich, warm glow.

There is such a large range of pendants from geometric shapes to ‘fairytale solutions’ that this is a perfect way to personalise your room, creating mood and intimacy. An iconic pendant becomes the focal point of the room and is often an art piece in itself.

Vladimiro Ellliptic by Lolli e Memmoli.

Vladimiro Ellliptic by Lolli e Memmoli.

3. Recessed fittings
An alternative solution could be to recess fittings. Spherical forms are plastered into ceiling or wall structures, or organically moulded shapes flow seamlessly out of the surface.

Your lighting design

The lighting layout is usually drawn over either a floor plan or a reflected ceiling plan. This will show positions of lighting relative to each space and requirements and symbolise each fitting type according to the designer key. It will suggest circuits, either linked to switches or sometimes to automation systems depending on your request. There will also be an associated specification sheet and possibly a quotation to install.

As you review this with your lighting designer, it’s important to understand why certain fittings have been suggested, for what purpose, and where they are needed. This includes the use of down-lighting, night-lighting, pendant lights, wall lights, floor lamps, table lamps, exterior lighting, landscape lighting and functional lighting. Plan detail should account for lamp types — incandescent, halogen, fluorescent or LED.

Lighting design — mix and match

Our eyes don’t respond well to extreme contrast. Whilst areas of shadow are as important as appropriately-lit space, too much lighting contrast tires our eyes. An effective way to manage this is by incorporating different styles of lighting into each room.

  • Soft ambient light illuminates the whole room with an indirect glow.
  • Accent lights should highlight artworks and other decorative objects.
  • Task lighting is specifically placed to facilitate utilitarian tasks like working or reading, without detracting from the overall lighting effect.

Written by Mike Thorburn of ECC
Images supplied by ECC.

Follow us on Instagram