Balancing Lighting Functionality with Aesthetics
How do you balance functionality with aesthetics?
Aesthetics are only part of the problem. Now that we know that the brightness of the ceiling and upper walls is critical in maintaining circadian systems, I like to start with ambient indirect lighting and wall washing for vertical surfaces, including walls and major partitions. Task lighting can be added as needed — surprisingly, a large percentage of people are happy with a dimmer environment because they can see computer screens better. Of course, this really only applies to workspaces. For classrooms, I promote daylight first and then, direct/indirect lighting to help with the circadian benefits. For retail lighting, hospitality lighting, and other challenges, many times aesthetics are a more dominant part of the project, and some loss of efficiency and/or utility may be sacrificed to achieve an overall appearance or ambience. But I think that really good lighting designers give up nothing, although it may cost the owner a bit more. Take, for example, the Apple store in London — it grosses about $2,500 per square foot per year. Why save $2.50 per square foot in lighting construction with a resulting reduction in appearance and/or functionality of the store as a whole?
Answers provided by Jim Benya, principal, Benya Lighting Design, and partner, Benya Burnett Consultancy. Benya is a professional engineer and lighting designer with 39 years experience in architectural lighting design. He is the author of two books, “Lighting Design Basics” and “Retrofitting and Relighting.”