This sheet provides some methods widely used by lighting professionals, to design a successful “ensemble”.
Our lighting environment should not be uniform: human attention is attracted to the light, and our gaze instinctively turns to the best lit areas of our surroundings. A successful lighting should therefore highlight the parts which one wishes to emphasise, such as for instance the places to which you want to attract attention, and the areas of interest to which people should gather: a dining room table, the coffee table of a living room, a library etc.
We are also very sensitive to the type of light that surrounds us. Our mood is influenced by its colour and intensity:
Some activities are usually associated to a specific light intensity. A working table should enjoy bright lighting, while watching TV will call for a light-toned atmosphere. As a consequence, the characteristics and layout of fixtures that equip each room of a house must be selected according to 3 criteria:
To simplify the thinking, it helps to distinguish:
Diffuse lighting provides the entire room with an overall luminosity. This component has two main characteristics: its intensity and its colour.
The intensity of the illumination of a surface is measured in lux. The higher the number, the better lit the surface appears (read our technical page for more explanations). The table below shows some examples of intensity measured in daily life.
|Moonlight, clear night||0.25|
|Candle lit Restaurant||20|
|Normally lit living room||100|
|Very bright Office||400|
|Sunny Day in the shade||10 000|
|Sunny day surface in full sun||100 000|
The following table shows the intensity and colours usually chosen professionals when choosing the lighting for a house:
|Light intensity||Room & Atmosphere desired||Color|
|25-50 Lux||Lounge, dining room, adult room, subdued ambience, romantic||Hot|
|100-150 Lux||Lounge, dining room, kitchen, adult room, office. Restful and convivial atmosphere||Hot|
|200-250 Lux||Working atmosphere (office, library), children rooms (nursery, playroom)||White|
|350-500 Lux||“Technical” atmosphere: areas of high activity (office, workshop) and circulation (hallways, entrance)||White|
The directed lighting highlights certain areas of interest in the room: in a living room, these points of interest can be materialised by certain decorative objects placed or hung on the wall, by certain furniture (table, desk, coffee table). In a dining room or kitchen, these areas are usually the table and work tops. Sometimes the points of interest are only architectural, for example an apparent framing or a decorative interior staircase. Lighting specialists generally estimate that an area of interest should be 3 to 5 times more illuminated than the rest of the room. The values (in lux) shown above should therefore be multiplied by 3 to 5. Of course, a more intense directed lighting of the areas of interest should be compensated by a lower level of diffuse lighting – in practice, 200 lux or less. The directed lighting is obtained with luminaires capable of concentrating the light produced – for example equipped with a reflector (for instance spotlights), or desk lamps that concentrate the light downwards.
In summary, the following two design principles should be followed:
We will see in the more detailed pages of our guide, that the current trends are to provide some tuning for intensity, temperature and even colour, to change these atmospheres on demand or automatically.
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