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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 constantly evolve, playing with impossible elements to create innovative, original and amazing spaces that are also practical and functional.

Lighting has always been one of the most useful tools to achieve these results, which is why the most renowned and successful architecture and interior design studios are always up to date with the latest trends with regard to types of lighting, technical information, and new ideas to incorporate into any project and make it shine.

 

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If you also want to know all the details that can make a point of difference in your lighting projects, you’ve come to the right place.

 

1.Architectural lighting: what it is and why it is important

 

 

While light is important in people’s day-to-day lives to carry out almost any activity, the importance of light in architecture is rather due to the fact that it can change our mood and emotionally influence people

Appropriate lighting improves our mood and energy levels, while deficient lighting contributes to deficiencies in the body. Indeed, the quality of lighting directly affects concentration, appetite and mood, among many other things. 

Lighting is particulary important in people’s lives, since the effect it generates occurs unconsciously. If it is not planned properly, it will not be possible to achieve a healthy circadian rhythm or obtain the energy required for the day to day.

Ultimately, what is architectural lighting used for?

 

To improve and look after people’s mood

 

To enhance the beauty of spaces

 

To contrast textures, shapes and colours

 

 

2. Trends in interior design and architectural lighting

 

 

Natural materials, light fixtures integrated into walls, ceiling light fixtures… The architecture and interior design sectors change constantly and it may be that what worked until now and was loved by everyone will already be out of fashion by tomorrow.

In these sectors, staying up to date with regard to the latest trends is crucial in order to achieve results that everyone talks about. It is not just about using more practical materials or playing with shapes, because with the passing of the years and the evolution of technologies, tools like artificial lighting have enabled innovation in these sectors to be done at quantum leaps. 

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 be used are factors that you will need to be very aware of so as not to lose out.

  • Do you want results that keep up with the latest innovations? Here we tell you all the new lighting ideas.

3. Light and design

 

 

 

When we talk about 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 it is not just that; light is a factor that conditions a whole project, the layout of the furniture and the light sockets, the colours that are used throughout the entire place, etc. It is undoubtedly a tool to achieve more original designs, but also an element that must be carefully planned so that its result is as expected.

4.Lighting design

 In every architecture or interior design project, lighting design is essential to achieve the appropriate light in the right place and at the right time.

The ultimate purpose of lighting is to illuminate enough and in the manner that best adapts to each of the activities that are carried out in a space.
This means that a meticulous and planned design is required to fulfill the practical and aesthetic functions that it must have, in such a way that its layout, intensity and temperature, among other factors, adapt to each specific time and to each place.

 

 

Types of lighting

Natural light conditions many aspects of the lighting of any space, and along with whatever functionality each area has, largely determines the types of lighting that exist.

An outdoor area, conditioned by daylight constantly needs a type of lighting adapted to the times when there is less brightness and to the space that is to be lit up, which in the case of outdoor areas is usually bigger.

Conversely, indoors spaces, even if they are also affected by natural light over the course of the day, require different lighting systems with intensities that are different from those of outdoor lighting and lighting with other functions.
There is also another type of lighting, which is decorative lighting, whose purpose also varies from the other types already mentioned.

 

5.Indoor lighting

 

Indoor light is important not only in order to see clearly, but also to create beautiful spaces that generate a sensation of comfort and wellbeing, and that allow people to feel at ease. For this, it is key to take into account factors like the intensity of the light to be received, the colour temperature or the space to be lit up. 

Even if indoor lighting already indeed differentiates itself from outdoor lighting, it can also vary a lot depending on the purpose of the facilities that are lit up.
Each type of lighting is suitable for certain activities, so even when it comes to indoor areas, it can vary quite a lot from spaces like offices or restaurants to homes.

 

 

Office lighting

We can find several types of lighting inside office facilities:

  • General:this is the lighting that is used in work areas, so it is important that it be uniform and generate good visibility.
  • Accent or decorative:this is used only to highlight important parts by way of decoration.

 

Restaurant lighting

When we talk about lighting in restaurants, there are three important zones:

  • the lighting at the bar 
  • ambience lighting 
  • the lighting at the tables 

The bar is a point of the restaurant that should attract customers, so a type of lighting that can frame that space should be used. 

Ambient lighting must be warm and gentle, so that it creates a relaxed and cosy ambience. Conversely, the lighting at the tables must be sufficient to light up the plates, but without dazzling the patrons. 

It is advised proposing versatile lighting that avoids pendant light fixtures. These are usually installed at fixed points and if the tables need to be moved, they can end up off-centre.

 

Indoor home lighting

 

Homes usually combine in their interior different types of lights. Not only does the lighting change depending on each room, but different lights are also combined in the same areas that can be used for different times.

While areas like the bedrooms or the living room usually have warm, diffuse light, other parts of the house like the kitchen or the bathroom usually have accent light in the work areas, as well as neutral or warm light. However, in almost any space of a house, general lighting can be combined with accent lights in order to have the perfect lighting at all times of the day.

 

 

Lighting for retail

Lighting is a key element in the retail sector, which with the proper planning can contribute to conveying the brand image and even help to increase sales.

The different parts of a shop such as the till, the shop window or the sales area can attract attention much more and even incentivise buying if the lighting creates the right ambience to attract consumers.

Therefore, in this sector there are three important types of lighting:

  • Decorative lightingthat helps to create a modern ambience in line with the brand image 
  • Accent lightingto highlight certain garments or prices 
  • General lightingto create a comfortable ambience that invites consumers to enter and to see the garments, colours and fabrics properly. 

In retail it is particularly important to pay attention to the CRI or Color Rendering Index. This value measures the capacity of a light source to faithfully render colours compared with a natural source like the sun. The closer the CRI to 100, the greater the perfection with regard to colour rendering.

 

 

6. Outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting is all that used to obtain greater visibility outdoors when night falls and natural light is no longer enough. 

In this respect, lighting up outdoor areas helps to keep circulation areas safe, to know where you are going and to see obstacles properly. It can also help to dissuade thieves, since an illuminated house indicates that the house is inhabited.

When installing light fixtures outdoors, you need to use light fixtures with protection against water, humidity and other inclement weather. This protection factor is measured using the IP or Ingress Protection. 

In this respect, there are different types of outdoor lighting depending on their function and the place they are aimed at, since some outdoor areas like terraces usually have a limited space and are even covered, while other spaces like gardens need to light up a much bigger area and with no reflections.

 

Garden lighting

In gardens it is usual to use accent light fixtures to highlight trees, bushes and other decorative elements. This type of ornamental lighting is very decorative, since we use vegetation and textures to give life to our garden.

It is also a good idea to use signage lighting with wall light fixtures, beacons or ground level lighting, in order to provide light to the garden’s paths and circulation areas. It is ground level lighting that allows us to properly see where we are walking.

Finally, general lighting is installed in those areas where we need one more light point, like in lounge areas, outdoor dining rooms and barbecue areas.

 

Terrace lighting

 

Due to their function, certain areas can be found on terraces where general lighting is combined with some accent lights, both to obtain a good aesthetic result and to carry out activities like reading or eating with enough visibility to do so comfortably at night.

 

 

Outdoor recessed ground lighting

This type of outdoor lighting is common for lighting up circulation areas and garden paths, or to achieve a gentle light that lights up all the outdoor space

There a type of light fixture called recessed ground lights, which are ideal for accenting texturised surfaces and adding a third dimension to facades.

 

7.Decorative lighting

The purpose of outdoor decorative lighting is to create a pleasant and relaxing ambience to carry out activities like reading, relaxing, chatting, etc.

 

 In order to achieve this, you can combine different types of lighting like wall lights, floor or table lights, or LED strip lights. The key to this lighting is that it already encompasses a decorative element in and of itself and is also prepared to resist the action of external agents like heat from the sun or rain. 

Here it is again important to take into account the use of light fixtures with Ingress Protection or in other words that can endure the effect of external agents. Ingress Protection is measured with two numbers: the first one refers to protection against solid elements and the second one against liquid elements.

Lighting projects

The purpose of lighting projects is to draw up a plan or design using the most appropriate types of lighting to improve a place and create comfortable spaces. In the end, it is about generating healthy, safe ambiences through aesthetic results, and original and practical spaces.

8.Lighting techniques

Any professional carrying out a lighting project must be familiar with any lighting techniques that are fashionable and that best suit each space.
From the best use of natural light to the integration of artificial light, each lighting technique is suitable for some spaces and some specific activities, but it is necessary to have that knowledge so that the lighting project is a success.

Lighting installation

 

To achieve good finishes and avoid technical faults, all outdoor lighting must be installed by a qualified professional. 
In cases in which the installation is complex, it is best is to consult experts like Faro who can plan the light sockets, advise on the most suitable type of lighting for each area and carry out all the necessary technical work.

 

 

Light fixture

In general, light fixture means the apparatus that houses one or several lights and the auxiliary equipment. They are used to reflect or direct light, in addition to having a function to protect the lamp. 

These components mean that the lighting does not cause flashes, and is well distributed and well protected from strikes or from any external factor that could affect it. 

Depending on the space at which it is aimed, we can find different types of light fixture.

 

 

9.Types of light fixture

We can find as many types of light fixtures as purposes that a lighting project can have. Depending on the space that you want to light up and the activities it will be used for, lighting can be linear, recessed, pendant, etc.

 

Linear light fixture

As the name suggests, these are linear light fixtures that extend over the architecture or the design details of a space to highlight forms, textures and colours.

They offer a uniform and general light without dazzling, and can be two types:

  • Recessed linear light fixture: embedded into walls and ceilings.
  • Surface linear light fixture: Light fixture suspended from or attached to the ceiling.

 

Wall lights

The wall surface light fixture is installed onto walls and serves both to illuminate and as a decorative element.
It is a type of light fixture often used in homes, terraces and gardens.

 

Recessed light fixture

The recessed light fixture is that which can be recessed into the ground, wall or ceiling, and serves to create both indirect lighting and accent lighting, such as for example, recessed light bulbs. These are usually used as focused light to highlight areas or specific elements like paintings or shelving, due to their opening angle

With this type of light fixture, it is important to bear in mind factors like the design or the angle of the light.

 

Pendant light fixture

The pendant light fixture is among the most used and one of the oldest types of light fixtures. It is an apparatus that hangs from the ceiling, where height is an important factor to take into account

 

Ceiling fan with light

Ceiling fans with light are the way to combine lighting, design and breeze in the same practical element. These fans with light provide diffuse and general lighting that is perfect for bedrooms, living rooms or lounges.

 

 

10. Types of light

If you think about the light you use at home while you are reading, the light at a nightclub at night or the light at a restaurant at midday, you will surely think that they have little in common.

While the purpose of all lighting is to provide light, there are many types of light that, according to the space, the time of day or even the activity you are carrying out, can change a lot.

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Indirect light

This is a type of light that is projected onto another surface so that the source cannot be directly seen, illuminating through reflections.

It is a way of decorating, gently illuminating and, above all, highlighting the shapes of walls, floors and ceilings, so it is often used in both architecture and interior design.

 

Artificial light

This is all lights that are not natural, in other words, that are not sunlight. This light is manmade and we can find it in very different forms and colours.

Difference between natural light and artificial light

The main difference between natural light and artificial light is that the latter can be manipulated and managed to people’s taste, while the former always follows the same rhythm.

Artificial light can be very varied, so it also offers many more possibilities than natural ight in relation to interior design. It allows lights and shadows to be placed exactly where you want them, thereby transforming and even distorting spaces.

 

 

Artificial light sources

Halogen or low consumption lights have traditionally been used. However, LED lights have now achieved a better light quality to energy consumption ratio

 

Types of artificial light in architecture

Of all the types of light there are,  architecture primarily uses LED lights for their endless application possibilities and for their energy efficiency. Lights that are more or less intense, accent, diffuse, with different colour temperatures, etc. are also used.

Indoor light

Indoor light is a very important element in our daily life, since it is responsible for us being able to carry out any activity not only where the natural light from outside does not reach, but also at the times of day when there is not enough brightness.

 

Ambient light

Ambient light is equally as important as the others. While it is usually gentler and does not provide too much brightness, so it is not enough for certain activities, its function is to create a cosy and relaxed  ambience. 

It is the type of light that is used in lounges and areas of relaxation where it is not necessary to see too clearly.

 

How to calculate light intensity 

One of the key points in a lighting project or in any design job is light intensity. This is the intensity of the lighting required by each room or space in order to fulfill its function without being annoying or unpleasant, or ruining the aesthetic result.

When the light intensity required in a specific place is studied, it is not a matter of trying different lights with varied intensities, but rather of being familiar with the needs of the space, its size and the furniture it has.

In spaces like homes, calculating intensity does not usually follow a specific pattern, but rather it usually adapts to the customer’s needs and preferences so that they can choose the most suitable light intensity.

Conversely, in more complex projects, free Dialux software is mostly used to easily make lumen calculations.

 

11.What lumens are

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

If you have a lighting project, you need to be familiar with this measurement in order to purchase the exact type of light fixture you need with the right intensity to avoid any surprises.

 

How many lumens are needed in each area

In order to have an idea of the light intensity you will need for each area, you will have to select the quantity of lux recommended for the space you want to light up and multiply it by the square metres that said space has.

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

12. What lux is in lighting

Lux measure the resulting light, in other words the light obtained and perceived. And there is a difference between lumens emitted and lumens finally perceived. 

This measurement allows you to calculate the light intensity you need in a specific case, in other words by adapting the calculation to the specific surface you want to light up from the square metres it has.

 

How to calculate lux in lighting

To calculate lux, all you need to do is apply the simple formula lumens x m2 = lux. As you will see, this is a formula similar to the one used to calculate lumens. To make these calculations, you will need to bear in mind the quantity of lumens recommended for each space which we will show you further on.

However, the best thing to do is use lumen calculation software like Dialux, which allows you to create lighting projects in a way that is simple and facilities the task of designing lighting systems both for indoors and outdoors. 

13.Regulatory lighting levels

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

 

What light temperature is

 

Have you ever wondered why spaces like a hospital or an office are not at all cosy? Well, all this can be explained by light temperature or colour temperature.

When we talk about light temperature, we mean a series of colours that lighting has which provide a certain degree of warmth or cold to the atmosphere.

Red and orange hues are warm, while blue ones are colder. The latter are the most suitable for spaces where the activities carried out require a lot of brightness, where it is important to distinguish objects well, to concentrate, etc. This would explain why the light used in hospitals is cold light.

 

14.How light temperature is measured: Kelvin

 

Light temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin, which indicate the colour the lighting will have. Following this measurement will allow you to obtain three different types of light: 

 

Colour temperature in lighting

As we explained earlier, colour temperature could be defined as the domination of some colours over others that alter the white colour of light, making it redder or bluer and thereby producing a sensation of greater coldness or warmth.

 

Colour Rendering Index

The Colour Rendering Index (CRI) measures the capacity that a certain light source has to render both cold and warm colours by taking daylight as a reference point and the number 100 as a maximum value. The closer the value to 100, the greater the colour quality. 
At the beginning, LED lighting used to have rather low indices, however with the advance of technology, the quality of LED lighting has improved to the extent that it offers a colour rendering index of over 80, which is more than enough for any of its applications

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