Every aspect of design is important to the overall look and feel of a space, but they are not equal by any means. Among all aspects, lighting design is by far the most important. Why? Our physical health, emotional wellness, and mental state all depend on good lighting. Beyond that, lighting affects the spaces it covers.
Today we are going to go over a few things in greater detail. Among them are what lighting is and what purpose it serves, how it affects us, the impact it has on design, and things to consider when choosing your lighting.
What is lighting and its purpose?
Lighting refers to how lights are arranged, typically for a planned purpose. This purpose can vary greatly, but usually involves illumination through artificial means. Still, lighting design may include both the use of artificial lighting fixtures and the use of natural sunlight through carefully placed windows.
When lighting is done right, it can bring great benefits to a room and the people that occupy it. Each different type of lighting can have a range of effects on people. Warmer colors promote relaxation, while colder lights improve productivity and alertness.
Why is lighting important for our well-being?
When it comes to our well-being, light importance should not be taken lightly (pun intended)! There are three categories I will specifically go over, providing examples to illustrate my point. First is our physical health. Next is our emotions. Last is our mental state.
Please note that although we have listed quite a few effects, these are far from exhaustive and that further research is still being done on the effects of lighting on our well-being.
There are a few known ways that physical health is impacted by lighting, but I will list just four.
First, good lighting can prevent injury both at home and in the workplace. The memory of stepping on a Lego at night while trying to reach the light switch comes to mind. This is just one example. More serious accidents could definitely happen, especially in the workplace, if lighting isn’t adequate.
Second, lighting affects the body’s circadian rhythms, which then impacts sleep, and a step beyond that is mood and the immune system. While you’ve probably felt a difference in mood when you don’t get enough quality sleep, you might not have known that people with poor circadian rhythms are more prone to disease.
Third, our eyes get less tired in the appropriate amount of light. This can in turn reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches. It also decreases the tiredness we might experience due to our eyes wanting to close.
Finally, some studies show that lighting can impact eating habits. Brighter lighting is correlated with healthier and/or faster eating, whereas dimmer lighting is correlated with unhealthy eating but slower, more enjoyable eating.
Have you ever noticed yourself getting irritated when someone turns off that “unnecessary” or “extra” light while you’re working? What about your mood changing when you enter someone’s house and feel a sense of calm and peacefulness come over you?
Light intensifies emotions and mood. When we change our setting, our mood will change with it. Hopefully that means a better mood, since it can go either in a positive or negative direction. Some report that with improved lighting, their feelings of sadness, including deep depression, anxiety, and overall stress have lessened.
Good lighting helps prevent daytime sleepiness, increases focus, and optimizes cognitive performance levels. The best light is naturally sunlight, but the next best thing is to get bright white LED light indoors.
Lighting also prepares us for upcoming activities. Dim the lights and your mind will be prepped for romance. Brighten the room and your body is ready to work at better levels of engagement, commitment and energy.
Why is lighting important for design purposes?
How easy is it to make changes to wall coloring or furniture? Painting walls requires either a lot of time (if you do it yourself) or money (if you have someone else do it for you). Changing out furniture isn’t cost or space effective either: you have to deal with the previous furniture (store it, but where? Or sell it, but won’t that be at a fraction of the initial cost to purchase it?) and with the new furniture (and new furniture usually costs a lot more).
Lighting, on the other hand, can often be changed with the mere changing of bulbs. In some cases, you can even choose the brightness and color—more so if you purchase the increasingly popular Smart bulbs.
Also, rooms with good lighting create a sense of space. Although it is merely an optical illusion, occupants will still notice and appreciate it. Lighting creates experiences. For some places, bright illuminating light optimizes the experience, while dimmer lighting may provide a better ambiance in others. If proper lighting isn’t in place, you could run into problems. Think of the dangerous parts of cities, where lighting is poor, versus the center of cities, where crime is usually not nearly as high.
Things to Consider When Choosing Lighting
Now that we’ve discussed the effects of lighting, we’re going to discuss important factors when choosing between lighting design options.
First, considering the purpose of the room is vital. Rooms where work is going to be done, such as offices, kitchens, and studies, should make sure the lighting chosen promotes alertness and productivity. This usually means brighter, cooler lighting. In contrast, in entertainment rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms, where work isn’t the primary function, use warmer lights that promote relaxation.
Note that since some rooms are multi-purpose (such as bedrooms with an office space), make sure to use a combination of brighter, cooler lighting and warmer, dimmer lighting options. This brings us to a second consideration: adjustable lighting and smart lights. Smart lights are especially popular because you can set times for lighting to turn on and off, change coloring and/or brightness of the light(s), use your voice to control each function, and control the lights remotely.
A third consideration is how to make the best use of natural light and supplement it with the correct lighting choice. The final consideration is how the style will look in your space.
The Bottom Line
Lighting is important wherever you go. In the home, you want an environment where good physical, mental and emotional health are fostered. At work, you want a place where you can be continuously productive, safe, and ready to smash through tasks lists with ease. Having the right lighting can help you with both of these.
There are many good lighting options out there, which is great for flexibility. But that doesn’t make the choice any easier. You can almost never go wrong with a modern lighting option. Another option that works great in just about every environment is minimalist lighting. That said, ultimately you’ll find that the choice mostly depends on preference. Now that you have a better understanding of why lighting is important and what makes for better lighting, you should feel confident in making the right choice with ease.