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Lighting: Technical information and ideas for innovating with your architecture and interior design projects  
Architecture and interior design are two fields that are constantly evolving. Although the basics are timeless and fundamental, as in any other area, there are trends and new currents or technologies that are important to know in order to continue creating innovative, original and surprising spaces that are both practical and functional.

 

Lighting is precisely one of the fundamental elements in architecture and interior design to generate pleasant and healthy environments, as it can create effects and highlight the structural and decorative elements of any space.

 

That is why architecture and interior design studios are always up to date with the latest trends in lighting, basic techniques and new designs to be able to work better on their projects and surprise their clients. 

 

If you want to know all the details that can make a difference in your projects through lighting, you have come to the right place.

 

Types of lighting

There are several ways of classifying lighting, depending on its location, function, design and installation. In this article we will explain them all, but we will start by looking at how to plan lighting according to the type of space.

 

Interior lighting
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Outdoor lighting
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Indoor lighting

Indoor lighting is important not only to be able to see clearly, but also to create beautiful spaces that generate a sense of comfort and wellbeing, allowing people to feel at ease.

 

For this it is key to take into account factors such as the elements and their distribution in the room and the functionality of the space, in order to determine the intensity of the light to be used, the colour temperature and how it will be operated. 

 

Ultimately, what will define the lighting will be the activity that will take place in the space.

 

Office lighting

 There are several types of lighting in an office:

  • Work areas: uniform lighting that generates good visibility should be chosen.
  • Rest areas: accent or decorative lighting will be used to highlight important parts as decoration.

Restaurant lighting

 When it comes to lighting in restaurants, there are three important areas:

  • Bar lighting 
  • Ambient lighting
  • Table lighting 

The bar is a point in the restaurant that should attract customers, so it is necessary to use a type of lighting that can frame that space.  Ambient lighting should be warm and soft, creating a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. 

 

Table lighting, on the other hand, should be sufficient to illuminate the dishes, but without dazzling the diners.  It is advisable to consider versatile lighting that avoids pendant luminaires, as they are usually installed at fixed points and if the tables are repositioned out of necessity, they can be out of place.

 

Hotel lighting

Now let's look at how to light hotels or residences.

 

Starting with the common areas, the corridors need to be lit in a 'quiet way'. We recommend asymmetrical luminaires with flush-to-floor light positioned at a low height. These can also be complemented by room number highlighting lights.

Rooms, which are primarily intended to create a sense of well-being, but can also be used as a workspace.

  • General lighting: we recommend LED strips with indirect light to project a cosy light. 
  • On the sides of the bed: the best option is wall lights with a fabric shade to create a warm and pleasant atmosphere. If you want to ensure good maintenance, it is better to opt for a 'fixed' luminaire, rather than a table or pendant lamp.
  • Reading light: we prefer reader models, which provide spot light and are usually adjustable. This way, the person using it will not disturb the person on the other side of the bed.
  • Work light: a good table lamp that provides good light can also become a decorative element.
  • Signal light: we must bear in mind that guests are not familiar with the space and how to operate the light, so installing a signal light with a sensor switch will make it easier to reach the bathroom in the middle of the night without having to turn on the general light or find the one on the bedside table. 
Indoor floor surface luminaires
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Indoor tabletop surface-mounted luminaires
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Indoor wall surface-mounted luminaires
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Indoor ceiling surface-mounted luminaires
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Interior lighting in dwellings

Homes often combine different types of lighting: general lighting, spot lighting, cold lighting, warm lighting... Not only does the lighting change depending on each room, but also different luminaires (recessed, wall-mounted, suspended...) are combined in the same areas so that they can be used at different times. 

 

While areas such as bedrooms or the living room tend to have warm, diffused light, other parts of the house such as the kitchen or bathroom tend to have neutral light, as it is a working area. 

 

In short, in almost any space in a house, different types of luminaires are usually combined to provide the perfect lighting for every moment and need of the day. Read more about home lighting.

 

 

Retail lighting

Lighting is a key element in the retail sector, because a correct planning helps to transmit the brand image and, above all, it helps customers to visualise the items sold in the store, such as clothes, furniture, jewellery, cosmetics, etc.

 

The different parts of a shop such as the cash register, the shop window or the sales area can attract much more attention if they are well lit, and can even encourage customers to buy if the lighting creates the right atmosphere to attract consumers. Therefore, there are three important types of lighting in this sector:

  • Decorative lighting, which helps to create a relaxed and relaxed leisure atmosphere.  
  • Accent lighting, to highlight certain objects
  • General lighting, which is necessary to create a comfortable atmosphere, inviting consumers to come in and have a good look at the products being sold, colours, textures, and finishes.

In retail it is especially important to pay attention to the CRI or Colour Rendering Index. This value measures the ability of a light source to render colours faithfully compared to a natural source such as the sun. The closer the CRI is to 100, the more perfect the colour rendering. 

Indoor wall recessed luminaire
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Indoor recessed ceiling luminaire
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Outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting is any lighting that is used to increase visibility outdoors when night falls and natural light is no longer sufficient.  In this sense, lighting outdoor areas helps to keep passageways safe, to find one's way around and to see obstacles correctly. 

 

It can also help to deter burglars, as a lit house is an indication that the house is inhabited. When locating luminaires outdoors, it is necessary to use luminaires with protection against water, humidity and other inclemencies.

 

This protection factor is measured by the IP or Protection Index. This is a two-number code, where the first refers to protection against solid elements and the second against liquid elements. There are different types of IP depending on the resistance of the luminaires to inclemency. Depending on the place where the luminaires are to be used, one IP or another will be required.

 

Garden lighting

In gardens it is common to use accent luminaires to highlight trees, shrubs and other decorative elements. This type of ornamental lighting is very decorative, as we use vegetation and textures to bring our garden to life. 

 

When lighting a garden, it is also a good idea to use signage lighting with wall luminaires, bollards or grazing lighting to illuminate paths and passageways in the garden. 

 

This is lighting that is flush with the ground and allows us to see where we are walking. Finally, general lighting is installed in those areas where we need more light, such as living areas, outdoor dining areas and barbecues. 

 

Terrace lighting

Due to their function, it is possible to find certain areas on terraces where general lighting is combined with some accent lighting.

 

The aim is to obtain a good aesthetic result in order to carry out activities such as reading or eating with sufficient visibility to do so comfortably at night. More information on terrace lighting.

 

Swimming pool lighting

Lighting a swimming pool is undoubtedly the best way to give it elegance and to achieve a modern space where shapes and colours stand out. 

 

To guarantee the safety of bathers, the luminaires that are installed must have an IP68 protection rating (protection rating against water and solid bodies), which indicates that they are fully protected and prepared for prolonged immersion in water.

 

When the bottom of the pool is white or blue, it will need lighting with a colour temperature of between 4,000K and 4,500K.

 

As the water acts as a reflector for the light, the feeling of brightness will be much greater with only a few luminaires in the pool. It is necessary to pay attention to this so that you do not find yourself with an over-lit pool.

 

Normally, one spotlight is needed for every 20m2 of water surface. However, if the interior of the pool is dark, it will absorb more light and will need more spotlights.

Indoor pendant luminaires
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Rail projectors
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How many types of luminaire are there?
We continue with another type of classification. Depending on the design and the way it is installed, the luminaire could be linear, recessed, pendant, etc.

 

What is a luminaire

Luminaires are generally referred to as luminaires when they house one or more lamps and ancillary equipment. They are used to reflect or direct the light, in addition to having a protective function for the lamp.

 

These components ensure that the lighting does not cause flickering, has a good distribution and is well protected from shocks or any external factor that may affect it. Depending on the type of installation or design, we can find different types of luminaires.

 

However, the enclosed device is commonly referred to as the lamp. In technical language, the lamp is the light source, better known as the 'bulb'.

 

Surface mounted luminaire

 

Surface mounted luminaires are used when there is no ceiling space available for recessing. In this respect, they are usually more economical to install, as they do not require the manipulation of walls or ceilings. There are two types:

Commonly called wall lights, these are luminaires that are fixed to a wall or ceiling. Depending on the number of luminaires that are placed, they can be a decorative element or configure the general lighting.

They are usually more decorative elements that accompany the general light. For example, they can be placed on bedside tables, in a living room or hallway. They are more mobile than wall or ceiling lights.

 

Rail spotlights

Track spotlights are particularly suitable for accent lighting in retail, catering and exhibition areas, as the individual spotlights can be moved along the track to concentrate the light at one point or create multiple points. In this sense, they are a very versatile resource.

 

They consist of a series of luminaires distributed on a metal track mounted on the ceiling. In addition, the track can be more or less visible, depending on the desired style.

 

For example, it is common in restaurants for tables to be arranged in one way and sometimes in another. If we have track spotlights, we can move the spotlights and adapt to any situation.

 

Profiles and LED strips

LED strips are an efficient and flexible lighting system, collected by means of a ribbon that allows it to be manufactured in very small sizes and different measurements.

 

Its characteristics facilitate its installation in a multitude of spaces and its adaptability to a variety of shapes and surfaces, above all to illuminate any linear element, unlike luminaires with more specific light sources.

 

Nowadays, LED strips can be dimmed using almost any existing control protocol such as PWM, DMX, KNX, 0-10V, DALI, etc., as well as connectivity via various WIFI, Bluetooth or Alexa systems, and the incorporation of sensors.

 

Thanks to their use and the multiplicity of formats, it is now possible to illuminate corners and places that would otherwise not be illuminated. LED strips are used when you want to hide the lighting, both as general and indirect lighting and for accent lighting and signage.

 

Linear luminaire

Among all the possibilities and types of luminaires that exist in lighting, the linear luminaire is one of the most recurrent typologies to enhance the architecture of a space.

 

 

Why is it a favourite? They are very versatile pieces that adapt to very diverse spaces and also offer a continuous, homogeneous and comfortable light, avoiding annoying glare or shadows. There are two types:

Outdoor ceiling surface-mounted luminaire
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Outdoor surface-mounted table luminaire
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Surface mounted outdoor wallwasher luminaire
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Outdoor wall surface-mounted luminaire
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Light fixtures

Surface-mounted luminaires, better known as wall lights, are placed on walls and serve both as lighting and decorative elements.

 

This type of luminaire is widely used in homes, terraces and gardens.

 

Recessed luminaire

A recessed luminaire is a luminaire that can be recessed in the floor, wall or ceiling and is used to create both indirect light and accent light, e.g. recessed spotlights.

 

These are often used as focused light to highlight specific areas or elements such as pictures or shelves due to their angle of aperture. With this type of luminaire it is important to take into account factors such as design and angle of light.

 

One type of luminaire, recessed downlights, are ideal for accentuating textured surfaces and add a third dimension to façades.

 

This type of outdoor lighting is commonly used to illuminate walkways, garden paths or to achieve a soft light that illuminates the entire outdoor space.

 

Pendant luminaire

The pendant luminaire is one of the most commonly used and one of the oldest types of luminaires. They are fixtures that hang from the ceiling, where height is a relevant factor to take into account.

 

Ceiling fan with light

Ceiling fans with light are the way to combine lighting, design and freshness in one practical element. These ceiling fans with light provide a diffused, general illumination that is perfect for bedrooms, living rooms or lounges.

Ceiling fans with light
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Types of light

If we think of lighting in terms of purpose, we find another type of classification. Lighting can have the main function of illuminating, but we can also attribute many other functions to it, such as decorative utilities.

 

Natural light

It comes directly from the sun and is affected by meteorological factors such as clouds.

 

Artificial light

This is light that is not natural, i.e. its source is not the sun. It would be all light produced by technical means by people, such as lamps, light bulbs, fire or others.

 

Artificial light can be manipulated and with it we can create an ambience or atmosphere as we wish.

 

General lighting

This is a light that is capable on its own of illuminating the entire room in which it is installed in a basic way. It is the most useful for obtaining an overview of the room. For example, track spotlights, linear luminaires, LED strips, ceiling surface luminaires or others can be installed.

 

We recommend choosing luminaires that do not cast shadows or produce glare, as well as being energy-efficient, as they spend a lot of time on.

 

Ambient light

Ambient lighting is that which can be used as general lighting when the general lighting is off, but its intensity is much lower. They are usually dimmer and warmer luminaires. Their purpose is to create atmosphere in the room, as their name suggests.

 

Spot or focused light

The aim of spot lighting is to illuminate a specific space to carry out an activity such as reading, cooking, eating, resting, chatting, etc. To achieve this it is possible to combine different types of lighting such as wall lights, floor or table lamps or LED strips.

 

It is used to illuminate specific places where more light than the general light is required, both for greater visibility and to counteract the shadows that it may produce.

 

Decorative or exhibition light

It is the one that seeks to highlight objects or the structure of the home. For example, spotlights that illuminate an art painting, a sculpture, a bookcase, a column. They are not intended to illuminate the room, but to highlight a specific object. In this sense, they work independently of the rest of the lighting in the home.

 

Direct light

We refer to direct light when the light beam is directed directly at the area to be illuminated.

 

Indirect light

This is a type of light that is projected or bounced onto another surface so that the source cannot be seen directly, illuminating through reflections. It is a way of decorating, softly illuminating and above all highlighting the shapes of walls, floors and ceilings, which is why it is widely used in both architecture and interior design.

 

Diffuse light

The light is diffused when the lampshade of the luminaire contains a translucent diffuser, an element that produces light without shadows or glare. They are ideal for ambient lighting, as they combine perfectly with general lighting.

 

Difference between daylight and artificial light

The main difference between natural light and artificial light is that the latter can be manipulated and managed at the whim of people, while the former is not controllable and follows its own cycles.

 

Artificial light can be very varied and therefore also offers many more possibilities than natural light in relation to interior design.

 

With it, it is possible to play with effects and shadows, transforming any space.

 

Submersible recessed luminaire
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Outdoor ground recessed luminaire
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Recessed luminaire for outdoor wall mounting
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Luminaria lineal
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What are lumens?

Lumens is the measurement used to measure the amount of visible light emitted by a source, the more lumens, the more brightness that light source provides.

 

If you have a lighting project, knowing this measurement is necessary to purchase exactly the type of luminaire you need with the right intensity and to avoid surprises.

 

How many lumens are needed in each zone

In order to get an idea of the intensity of light you will need for each area, you will have to select the amount of lux recommended for the space you want to illuminate and multiply it by the square metres of the space.

 

The result of this calculation will be the lumens you need, so you only need to look for a type of lighting that has more or less that amount of lumens.

 

What are lux in lighting

Lux measures the resulting light, i.e. the light achieved and perceived. There is a difference between the lumens emitted and the lumens finally perceived.

 

This measurement allows you to calculate the intensity of the light you need in a specific case, i.e. adapting the calculation to the specific surface you want to illuminate based on its square metres.

 

How to calculate lux in lighting

To calculate lux, just apply the simple formula: lumens x m2 = lux. As you will see, this is a similar formula to the one used to calculate lumens. To do these calculations you will need to take into account the recommended number of lumens for each space that we will show you below.

 

However, it is best to use lighting calculation software such as Dialux, which makes it easy to create lighting projects and facilitates the task of designing lighting systems for both indoors and outdoors.

Outdoor pendant luminaire
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Architectural track spotlights
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Regulatory lighting levels

There are several UNE standards dedicated to determining the intensity of light needed for each space, aimed at guaranteeing visual comfort and colour rendering. Below, we show you the lux recommendation for each installation:

  • Kitchen: 300-600 luxLiving room: 100-300 lux
  • Corridor: 300 lux
  • Room: 100-300 lux
  • Studio: 200 lux
  • Bathroom: 300-600 lux
  • General lighting: 300-600 lux
  • Exterior shop windows: 1000-3000 lux

How light temperature is measured: Kelvin

Have you ever wondered why spaces like a hospital or an office are so unwelcoming?

 

Well, it can all be explained by the temperature of light or colour temperature. When we talk about light temperature, we are referring to a series of colours in the lighting that provide a certain degree of warmth or coolness to the environment.

 

Red and orange tones are warm, while blue tones are cooler. The latter are the most suitable for spaces where the activities carried out require a lot of light, where it is important to distinguish objects well, to concentrate, etc.

This would explain why the light used in hospitals is cold light.

 

The light temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin, which indicates the colour of the lighting. Following this measurement, three different types of light can be obtained:

  • Cold light: more than 4000k
  • Neutral light: between 2700 and 4000K
  • Warm light: 2700K or less

Colour rendering index

The colour rendering index (CRI or CRI) measures the ability of a given light source to reproduce both warm and cool colours with daylight as the reference point and a maximum value of 100. The closer the value is to 100, the better the colour quality.

 

Initially, LED lighting used to have quite low ratings, however, with the advancement of technology, the quality of LED lighting has improved to offer a colour rendering index of more than 80, which is more than sufficient for any of its applications.

Architectural recessed luminaire
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Linear systems Architectural
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Architectural surface luminaire
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LED profiles and strips 
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Architectural lighting: what is it and its importance?

Although light is important in people's daily lives to be able to carry out almost any activity, the importance of light in architecture is rather due to the fact that thanks to light it is possible to change the mood and influence people emotionally.

 

Adequate lighting improves mood and energy levels, while poor lighting contributes to deficiencies in the body. The quality of lighting directly affects concentration, appetite, mood and much more.

 

Lighting is especially important in people's lives, as the effect it has happens unconsciously. If it is not planned correctly, it is not possible to achieve a healthy circadian rhythm and to obtain the necessary energy for everyday life.

 

In short, what is architectural lighting for?

  • Improving and caring for people's state of mind
  • Enhancing the beauty of spaces
  • Highlighting textures, shapes and colours

 

Trends in lighting for interior design and architecture

Natural materials, luminaires integrated into walls, ceiling luminaires... The architecture and interior design sectors are constantly changing, and what worked and was loved by everyone until now may be out of fashion tomorrow. In these sectors, keeping up to date with the latest trends is crucial to achieve results that everyone will talk about.

 

It is no longer just a matter of using more practical materials or playing with shapes, because over the years and with the evolution of technologies, tools such as artificial lighting have allowed innovation in these sectors to take giant steps forward.

 

Lighting has become such an essential element for any design and project that the ways of applying it, creating sensations and effects, and even the type of lighting to use, are factors that you will have to keep a close eye on in order not to miss a single idea.

 

Light and design

When it comes to interior design projects, light is one of the most important elements. With natural light it is possible to make the most original parts of a space shine.

 

But not only that, light is a factor that conditions a whole project, the arrangement of the furniture, the light points, the colours used throughout the place, etc.

 

It is certainly a tool to achieve more original designs, but it is also an element that must be carefully planned so that the result is as expected.

 

Lighting design

In any architectural or interior design project, lighting design is essential to achieve the right light in the right place at the right time. The ultimate aim of lighting is to provide sufficient light in the way that best suits each of the activities carried out in a space.

 

This means that a careful and planned design is necessary to fulfil the practical and aesthetic functions it should have, so that its layout, intensity and temperature, among other factors, are adjusted to each specific time and place.

 

Lighting techniques

A professional who carries out a lighting project must know the lighting techniques that are most suitable for each space.

 

From the use of natural light to the integration of artificial light, each lighting technique is suitable for specific spaces and activities, but it is necessary to have this knowledge to make the lighting project a success.

 

Lighting installation

To achieve good finishes and no technical faults, all lighting must be installed by a qualified professional.

 

In cases where the installation is complex, it is best to turn to experts such as Faro Barcelona who can plan the lighting points, advise on the most suitable type of lighting for each area and carry out all the necessary technical work.

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