lighting illuminated: 5 key considerations by Claire Grotz

Aesthetically, lighting fixtures can be like jewelry for an interior, adding a bit of sparkle and just the right finishing touch to a space. Functionally, there is a lot more to selecting a fixture than just its dashing good looks. The right (or wrong) lighting selection will make or break a design, regardless of how well the rest of the space has been crafted. Below are five key concepts to understand when selecting the right fixture.

UL listing
The UL, or Underwriters Laboratories, is an independent US company that tests and verifies consumer products to ensure their safety for the public. It is important to select a fixture that has been tested and approved by the UL, especially if it is going in a bathroom it will need to be UL listed for use in damp locations.

Lamping refers to the type of bulb (or lamp) used in a fixture. Different types of bulbs have different light outputs, require different amounts of electricity, and have varying lifespans. For example, LED lights have a much longer lifespan (as much as 10-15 years which is great for fixtures in locations that are difficult to service) and they are also a great option for saving on energy costs. Some fixtures can accommodate different types of bulbs, but others cannot. Be sure to check the specifications to see whether the fixture uses a bulb that is readily available in your local store, or whether it is something you will need to special order, as this will impact the ease of maintenance over time.

Lumens are the measurement of light output from the lamp, or bulb, as mentioned above. We are accustomed to understanding light output in relation to the watts of an incandescent bulb, but with so many other options (LED, halogen, fluorescent) a little math is needed to determine light output: The total output (lumens) you will get from a fixture is equal to the wattage of the bulb, times the lumens per watt for the bulb type. Therefore, a 60w incandescent that produces about 15 lumens per watt will give off only 900 lumens, whereas a 60w LED that produces 30 lumens per watt will give off 1800 lumens. (Hence the energy savings of switching to LED lights.)

Color Temperature
Color Temperature refers to how visually “warm” the light output appears. It is measured on the Kelvin scale of 1,000K (warmest) up to 10,000K (coolest). This influences the “mood” you want to set. Psychologically, a room filled with “warm” light (2,000K-3,000K) gives a sense of cozy intimacy and is desirable in restaurants or living rooms. A “cool” white light (3,000K-4,500K) tends to make a space feel vibrant and bright, which works well in offices or bathrooms. Daylight falls around 4,600K-6,500K, which feels energizing and crisp and is great for task lighting.

Finally, the CRI is the Color Rendering Index, measured on a scale of 0-100. Different light bulbs (and hence the fixtures that require them) will vary when it comes to how accurately colors appear under the light. This is separate from Color Temperature, and gets very scientific very fast. To simplify the concept, what is important to note when selecting lighting for spaces where color accuracy is crucial (like a design studio, salon, or your dressing area at home) is that the higher the CRI number, the more accurately you will see color. Daylight has a CRI of about 75 and typically in a living space you will want a CRI of 70 or higher.

As you can tell, the art and science of lighting can be very complex, and we haven’t even touched issues like beam spread or control systems. For large projects or public buildings where lighting plays a critical role it is often desirable to engage a lighting consultant. However, understanding these five key concepts is a great starting point for discussing the basics with your architect or designer, or shopping for fixtures on your own.

add light to your life by Claire Grotz

When starting a new project light can either carefully highlight design or sometimes design revolves entirely around the lighting.  Often, lighting can easily get lost in the numbers, but here are some eye catching projects that make lighting a very prominent focus point!

It is tempting to conceal wiring to keep your design visually clean, but 'Proti Proudu Bistro' in Prague by Mimosa Architekti chose to make light a powerful design element.  
The industrial fixture emphasizes the wiring, which stand out prominently against the white backdrop. 

They were not afraid to use neon lighting to express their bold restaurant concepts.
The choice to support overhead lighting from below, rather than hanging from the ceiling is very unique. They've created posts to transform the lights into tree-like elements that you cannot miss! 
The 'Odette Team Room and Pâtissere' by UGO Architecture is a very small space with a very noticeable lighting design.  
The wall sconces follow the same language as well. 
The lights in this space fit perfectly with the very striking brass shelving. You will notice this light fixture! 
Also the one at Beach House which several of us at the office had a hand in creating!
We try to do interesting lighting design in our projects as well. We have even done a few fun custom light fixtures too! Check out the pendants at Bar Cotto that Michelle made. 

Another fun piece is this great mid-century chandelier that our client's mother carefully restored for her new bakery at Coyle's Bakeshop
There are tons of great lighting ideas out there! What have you seen that has caught your eye?

Colorova Patisserie by Michelle Linden

Our office is currently working on a French Patisserie... And as a bit of a Francophile and a foodie who loves to learn about new hip restaurants, I've been keeping my eye out for interesting pastry shops. Colorova is a  Parisian Patisserie that is really checking off all my boxes. Well designed interior (largely created by local craftsmen), lots of color, light fixtures with a sense of humor (Marcel Wanders), and best of all... what looks to be delicious pastries. I'm ready to hop on a plane and stop by!

All photos by Lindsey Tramuta of Lost in Cheeseland (one of my favorite non-architect blogs).

PSLab Beruit by Michelle Linden

A great wine bar with lighting by PSLab Beirut.
PSLab Beirut designed site specific lighting designs. These ones are great... a play on both a standard chandelier and the iconic cylinder of the wine bottle. The fixtures really add to the space, rather than detracting from it, helping to provide the barrel vaulted space with a more intimate feeling.
Check out their website. There are a lot of fun lighting fixtures... and the website itself it a lot of fun to peruse. There are great images of their sketchbooks - some with animated flipping pages!