What is a good lighting design?

Singapore, 14th April 2011

Before I jet off to Milan to visit the Light Fair, I would like to round up my past days discussions on lighting design with a question about what constitutes a good lighting design…I am sure there are as many opinions on this issue as there are people. The question follows my blog yesterday about other peoples’ work. The thing with lighting design is that there is not one solution to a lighting problem. We are in the business of creating lighting solutions for architectural spaces and there are many ways to do it. Technically one light bulb in the middle of such space could constitute a solution, but is it a good lighting design?

It all depends on the brief and guidelines that apply to the required lighting solution, these generally come from the client but still leaves heaps of blanks to fill in by us…the experts in lighting solutions. That is where the lighting concept comes in. In the lighting concept we define the parameters and criteria within which we resolve our lighting design riddle…That means that unless we properly define these, our lighting design outcome will be left wanting…So a good design first of all depends on the quality of the lighting expertise defining the criteria and considerations to be applied to the lighting design. Part of the concept is research, understanding where your client comes from and understanding where your client wants to go to! You are the tour guide and a good tour guide knows how to get there!…

A lighting design (unless you purely create it for your own satisfaction) is not about satisfying your own ego, but about satisfying your client first, he is the one hiring you. In the process we should satisfy ourselves too, because we should always be proud of what we deliver. It’s our name and reputation that is involved. In the end success is measured by the satisfaction of your client in achieving the outcome he or she desired, isn’t it? But designers have an ego to satisfy too, so a good lighting design therefore is a design where both the client and yourself look back with great pride and satisfaction!   

In Light Watch today I look ahead to visiting Italy, definitely a land where many lighting manufacturers were born. A country with a great sense of design and a very rich heritage. I am sure to go take a walk through the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele..

Light Watch 73: Milano, The Galleria day and night..

14. April 2011 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: light watch, lighting and culture, lighting design | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. You made several very interesting points. It’s a balancing act. I am a recent University of Miami school of architecture graduate. I have recently started an internship at a lighting design practice. We had an international client who was particularly found of warm color spectrum and we had to adjust all the lights in his place to accomodate his likes. Luckily the lighting system was designed with anticipation of this possible adjustment. In the end we spend a lot of time educating this client about the importance of color rendering and not as much the color temperature. I came to realization that many clients simply are not aware of what constitutes good or bad lighting and that the architectural lighting designers make their fixture selections first based on fixture performance and then the form. I think educating your clients on how the design process works is a key to a successful outcome.

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