Why Hire a Lighting Designer?
What Lighting Designers Do
Who is a Lighting Professional?
Architectural lighting design is both an art and a science. The artistic part involves understanding the aesthetics of the architect’s work in shaping space and the interior designer’s selections of colors, materials and finishes, then supporting and enhancing those elements while providing appropriate brightness for the occupants’ activities. The science of lighting design encompasses a wide range of areas including an understanding of the interaction between light, vision and psychology, luminaire design and performance, the impact of the light spectrum on the colors of finishes and objects, lighting control systems and code requirements.
The first answer is that we can and should expect more than basic illumination in most of the spaces where we spend our lives, but we rarely get it. This is largely because few owners and architects place value on quality lighting design. Many believe that the architect or electrical engineer can design lighting that is good enough, and good enough is all that is needed. In fact, by one estimate less than 10% of commercial construction projects engage a professional lighting designer. But good lighting doesn’t just happen. It’s thoughtfully planned by people with specialized knowledge.
A professional lighting designer is the only team member with the expertise, experience, and continuing professional education necessary to design a quality lighting environment. The IALD’s web site notes that, “Studies show the quality of light affects people in many different ways. For example, office worker satisfaction and productivity can be positively affected by well-designed illumination. Building owners and managers have the potential to add value, reduce costs and enhance performance through the application of good lighting. It's no secret that people are attracted to well-lighted public facilities, commercial shopping districts and parks. Good lighting enhances the mood and desirability of these spaces. It contributes greatly to people's sense of well-being… Through cost-control techniques, IALD lighting designers help clients realize improved energy efficiency and reduce lighting costs. The initial investment in a professional lighting designer is offset by a reduction of construction and operating costs.”
Here is a short set of links to other benefits of quality lighting design.
How Does Lighting Affect Mental Health In The Workplace, Forbes, December 2018
Optimizing Lighting for Better Learning, The Optical Society, April 2016
Does Lighting Boost Retail Sales?, LuxReview.com, June 2015
Impact of Light on Outcomes in Healthcare Settings, The Center for Health Design, 2006
Importance of Using a Lighting Designer, IALD.org
Every lighting design begins with information gathering, progresses through fixture evaluation and selection, and is complete when the fixtures and control system are commissioned and accepted by the owner. Along the way, the lighting designer is expected to:
Provide light that is appropriate for the occupants’ visual tasks by:
Design light that supports the room’s aesthetics or environment by:
Create visual interest within the space by:
Conserve energy, environmental resources, and the client’s money by:
Comply with building codes and energy usage regulations by:
What qualifications one should expect a lighting designer to have? We’ve partially addressed in the previous section by outlining expectations. A lighting professional should be proficient in those tasks and skills. Some of that proficiency may be evidenced by the person’s education. Most architectural lighting designers come to the field with degrees in architecture, electrical engineering, interior design or stage lighting design. However, as the importance of lighting design becomes better understood and more universities offer degrees in the field, an increasing number of people are entering the profession after specific studies in architectural lighting design.
The professional credentials one would expect a lighting designer to have include:
We should add that a lighting professional also actively engages in continuing education to master new design skills, to learn about new techniques and technologies, and to maintain professional credentials, which typically have a two- or three-year renewal cycle. Continuing education can come from a variety of sources including:
Wondering if Studio T+L is the right lighting designer for your project?
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