By Regina Santos, associate – lighting designer at Godwin Austen Johnson.
The year ahead for lighting design is one of contrasts. We are starting to see a lot of projects focusing on minimalism while others have a more industrial character. Both residential and commercial spaces are using a lot of decorative pieces such as pendants and statement lamps to set the tone and create an atmosphere. Colour and tunable white light fixtures will feature heavily in new projects as will the growth of products on the market to support circadian health.
The versatility of LEDs opens up a world of options for lighting designers. In the beginning LED manufacturers were trying to mimic the incandescent technology but now they are designing specifically around LED technology giving us beautiful products both minimalistic or more elaborate yet highly functional.
While we are seeing a lot of demand for slimmer profiles, decorative fixtures are still popular particularly in the interior design spaces to create balance and contrast with the use of statement lighting pieces. It’s really all about balancing the lighting and the needs of the interior space with what you want to achieve.
A growing number of LED products allow control of the shade of white light output so you can have a stark white office space for example and a lighting fixture that allows users to choose cool white temperatures for the daytime but switch to warmer temperatures as the evening draws in.
I believe colour is going to be hugely important in the year ahead, especially when designing spaces for the younger generation, and I believe that we will start to see James Turrell-type lighting installations appearing in projects, particularly in social spaces such as bars and restaurants or hotel lobbies. The beauty of this lighting is that there is a seamless blend of the boundaries of the space. James uses light and indeterminate space, not objects or images, to extend and enhance perception.
You have to be careful with installing coloured lighting in commercial and public spaces though as it should complement not completely take over a space. And to this end I believe that RGBW is useful in the use of colour as it gives another dimension allowing you to tone down the primary colours with a white light to give you a range of pastel shades.
The importance of circadian lighting
The focus of lighting today is being placed more on health and wellness and, more importantly how LEDs are affecting people, from how drivers/power supply are being improved to reduce or eliminate flicker, which can cause headaches, to which colour temperature is better for use at night time.
We tend to underestimate the importance of light on our wellbeing and just how much the light/dark cycle, or circadian rhythm, affects our moods. The availability of tunable white light fixtures, the improvement of lighting control systems and the connectivity which allows people to have access to information and more control of their environment, are just some of the key trends right now.
Flexible lighting in homes and at the workplace are set to become the norm as lighting designers embrace the emerging practice of aligning lighting with health and wellbeing.
There will be a greater emphasis on referencing nature, which has a significant physiological impact on our bodies, through the use of colour changing fixtures, mimicking the daylight cycle using different colour temperatures during the day and warm low level lighting at night time to prepare our bodies for sleep. In line with this I believe we will see a greater reliance on apps to control our lit environment via our phone or tablet in the future to produce comfortable and dynamic lighting schemes for interior and exterior environments.