Interior Architect at FaulknerBrowns Architects
I’d describe interior architecture as the adaptation of a building/space, attempting to highlight and enhance its existing qualities and historical character. The lighting can be important in selectively revealing some of the physical qualities of an interior, like specific marks which may have an historical value, or as a way to emphasise an important spatial element. It can be equally significant to use light and shadow to bring forward or pare back a space/structure and establish a heirarchy between the new and the existing.
There’s a load of examples of lighting as the focal point in restoring existing buildings (rijksmuseum in amsterdam is an example as a sculptural element) which shows an approach to interior architecture.
Part of the process in the design of an intervention in an existing building is to establish the visitor path/experience, of which lighting holds importance in practical ways through way finding and security etc. and in creating an appropriate setting (soft, warm light to induce relaxation for a library setting/’cool’ light to improve productivity in an office setting etc.)
Design/Director, Innovation Design, Philips/Consumer Lifestyle, Royal Philips Electronics
The benefits and experience of light are both functional and emotional. As humans we have a deep natural fascination with light. New technologies are enabling us to ‘shape’ light, to control, to interact and to engage with light like never before.
If you’re interested specifically in the home, my advice would be to look at how we currently use light (potentially also how it has been used in the past), look at how light plays a role at different times of the day, week and over the year. Seek out the difference between ‘good’ lighting and ‘bad’ lighting (find out for yourself how little consumers really know how to utilize light by contrasting research with professional lighting design experts) and seek out new opportunities which will engage people in their homes in actually wanting to install, use and interact with light
Lighting Study Questionnaire
The following questionnaire was given to a random selection of people in the locality, their responses to questions of how light is perceived in the modern day environment are quoted below.
Questionnaire put to 9 members of the public.
Below are a few questions asking how you feel about light, whether it be in the home or outside, please think about the emotions different light has on you, does it cheer you up, make you sad, make you feel warm or cold? Please feel free to elaborate or make extra comments if you have time. All feedback is greatly appreciated!
If you wake up to a bright sunny day, what emotion does this instil in you that a cloudy dull day does not?
Mel, Darlington: Awakeness – during the spring/summer or even bright winter days, I feel more active and awake with bright light. Clouds/dull days give me no/little energy.
Kathy, Stokesley: Happiness
Laura, Darlington: Energetic, a bit happier, more relaxed.
Kerri, Norton: I can sometimes literally feel brighter on a bright sunny day and look forward to going out more.
Amy, Derry, N.Ireland: Happiness, more.
Tracey, Middlesbrough: Makes me feel happy and cheery wanting to go out and do things.
Rebecca, Middlesbrough: Happiness, energy.
Mandy, Guisborough: Happiness and hope.
Sam, Saltburn by Sea: makes me feel more awake, ready to take on the day. I feel I have much more energy and feel more positive.
When you return home in the winter, what effect does putting on the lamps in your living room have for you as opposed to bright lights, perhaps in the kitchen?
Mel, Darlington: More relaxing and less of a function, Bright in kitchen/bathroom light means being busy.
Kathy, Stokesley: Soft lighting means comfort
Laura, Darlington: More calming and relaxed, it feels cosy (contentment maybe).
Kerri, Norton: I quite like dimmer lights in the house such as lamps and candles as that is more relaxing. If I am doing something such as cooking I prefer brighter lights.
Amy, Derry, N.lreland: makes me more relaxed, it’s a time when I would begin to wind down.
Tracey, Middlesbrough: I love it as it’s cosy, not keen on bright lights.
Rebecca, Middlesbrough: Makes the room look cosy and warm.
Mandy, Guisborough: A feeling of calm and serenity.
Sam, Saltburn by Sea: makes me feel glad to be home. Feel cosy and warm and glad to be aware from the glare of lights at work or on the roads outside.
What situations would you most recommend soft lighting for and why either at work or at home?
Mel, Darlington: Counselling – calming/more relaxing/safe. Sex – preferably not at work!! Bedrooms/living rooms to be calm and relaxed.
Kathy, Stokesley: Soft light, relaxation, calm, low energy.
Laura, Darlington: On an evening in the front room, bedroom and bathroom to help feel relaxed, calm, promote sleepiness, prevent being awakened whilst getting ready for bed.
Kerri, Norton: Relaxing – definitely softer lights. I prefer lights on at work, but bright lights on all day give me a headache. My gym has bright lights and I find that irritating at times.
Amy, Derry, N. Ireland: Morning, before the sun comes up, harsh light can hurt my eyes. Evening when home after work to relax.
Tracey, Middlesbrough: Chilling at home as it’s cosy, bright lighting in the kitchen.
Rebecca, Middlesbrough: Home it’s more relaxing.
Mandy, Guisborough: Almost all situations, I almost always have soft lighting. An exception would be to apply my make up or reading.
Sam, Saltburn by Sea: I really appreciate low soft lighting at home and in bars or restaurants. It’s kinder to my appearance than harsh bright light which shows all my laugh lines!! Soft light is also nice in the work environment, standing lamps are better for our eyes than the harsh ceiling lights, so we use them where we can.
When choosing lights for your home, do you focus more on the design of the light frame itself or the type of light emitted and how that light might interact with your living environment?
Mel, Darlington: Both, important to have what you want/like but type of light is important too.
Kathy, Stokesley: Both
Laura, Darlington: Probably the design as I can change the bulb to be a bit more dimmed or lighter as required.
Kerri, Norton: My partner picks bulbs and things so I don’t know. I have lots of candles and lamps because I like the atmosphere they create in different parts of the room.
Amy, Derry, N.Ireland: Don’t think about it too much, I have a few lamps and normal light in each room.
Tracey, Middlesbrough: I would choose the design with soft lighting.
Rebecca, Middlesbrough: Design for living room, bedrooms and hallways, bright lights for kitchen and bathroom.
Mandy, Guisborough: Both, I want something to fit in with the surroundings, but also to set an ambiance.
Sam, Saltburn by Sea: I have to say that before doing your questionnaire, I would have focussed entirely on the light frame and it’s design and how well that would incorporate in my home. But based on the thoughts you’ve brought out of me above, I would now consider the type of light emitted to be just as important; lights should look good either on or off.
Do you think that you generally take light for granted or are there times when you might stop to admire the effects light can have, for example, light dappled through leaves on a tree or reflecting from the water? Please give an example and state how it makes you feel.
Mel, Darlington: I am very much in touch with nature and light (sun and moon), seeing full moon reflect on highlands of Scotland fills my heart with joy.
Kathy, Stokesley: I stop to admire natural light, it evokes calm and a sense of wellbeing.
Laura, Darlington: I think there are times when everyone takes light for granted, life is too busy. However, I do stop to appreciate the effects of light like those stated above and more specifically in relation to clouds, sunsets, sunrises and the sky in general.
Kerri, Norton: Probably take it for granted until a bulb runs out! I like how light looks on water – relaxing.
Amy, Derry, N.Ireland: through leaves, artificial light on water, sunset on the beach, I don’t take it for granted.
Tracey, Middlesbrough: Stay light in the evening, is soothing, makes you smile.
Rebecca, Middlesbrough: Sunset in the evening can look pretty with different colours (reds etc) makes me feel happy like it’s a sunny day.
Mandy, Guisborough: I truly appreciate light and notice it often. I love sunsets and the light emitted by the moon particularly.
Sam, Saltburn by Sea: I think I am quite aware of my surroundings and do often take time to look around me. I often admire sunsets at work, the sky can change so much in just a short time and I’m lucky enough to sit by a large window in my office. A few of us will often stop to admire them. I also live close to the sea and the way the sun reflects of the water sometimes is quite uplifting.
Do you believe the way light reacts in nature has any space in our living environments – if so, how would this improve your general mood?
Mel, Darlington: Yes, more ‘open’ daylight in a room feels important to me.
Kathy, Stokesley: Yes is would be improved.
Laura, Darlington: Yes, I love being outdoors and if a part of this experience can be replicated at home, I would feel much happier, calmer and relaxed.
Kerri, Norton – no answer to this question
Amy, Derry, N.Ireland: Yes, I think it would chill people out more, I think it would help me sleep and lead to improved mood.
Tracey, Middlesbrough: Yes, staying light in the evening, improves your mood, makes you feel warm inside.
Rebecca, Middlesbrough: Yes.
Mandy, Guisborough: I would like to think so, natural light has a way of making me feel happy, calm and warm.
Sam, Saltburn by Sea: Yes I think it does, light is necessary but doesn’t have to look artificial, I think if designers could borrow some ideas from mother nature to improve our working environments, people’s mood and sense of wellbeing would improve.
Light can be portrayed in full colour as in a rainbow or through a prism; would you consider coloured lighting for your home or work, please say why?
Mel, Darlington: I’m not a huge fan of coloured light, I prefer natural.
Kathy, Stokesley: I prefer ‘white light’, artificial coloured light doesn’t work for me.
Laura, Darlington: Maybe in a bathroom or bedroom for relaxation, other than this maybe not as it can make it difficult to see.
Kerri, Norton – no answer to this question.
Amy, Derry, N.Ireland: No, I like white/yellow lighting.
Tracey, Middlesbrough: I personally wouldn’t –I like natural light.
Rebecca, Middlesbrough: No, I find it too confusing.
Mandy, Middlesbrough: I don’t particularly like coloured lighting unless it is muted.
Sam, Saltburn by Sea: I am more drawn to tones or shades of light as opposed to colour. Coloured lighting might go nicely in a school environment perhaps as an educational tool, but I wouldn’t be keen in the home. I even prefer white lights on my Christmas tree.
Any other comments about light and how it shapes your mood?
Mel, Darlington: Light is so vital to our emotional wellbeing – Bring on the spring!
Rebecca, Middlesbrough: Bright lights make you feel more awake, low lighting makes me tired, but cosy on a rainy day.
Mandy, Guisborough: Light has a massive impact on my mood; I dislike dark, grey days. I feel better when the sun shines or I am in a nice, brightly lit place.
Sam, Saltburn by Sea: Answering these questions has certainly given me food for thought and I hope I remember my thoughts when I next buy a lamp for myself.
Thank you very much for taking the time to fill in my questionnaire.
The questionnaire saw a great response from the public concerning thoughtfulness towards lighting in the home, the natural beauty of light and also the recreation of the natural sensation of light in the home. However coloured lighting didn't fair so well getting a negative response. This primary research will act as foundation for later tests.