Interior Design Elements: Light

  1. The most important and often the largest source of light in a space is natural light. The quantity and quality of natural light in a space will dictate the decisions made for how much and what types of artificial light are used. The orangery at Knole House has a multitude of large windows, letting natural light flood in. This makes it the ideal space for displaying art as no artificial light is needed to appreciate the installations. Here, the shape of the windows is just as important as the light that they let in, as the shadow of the windows become art on the floor of the space.
  2. There is a revived push from society that every place, demands a uniqueness, a mood, and a spirit that lighting can best tie together” (SEARLE S[1], 2019, p. 24). Rinkle by Studio M is a sculptural and artistic light. It is made with LED strips shining down through sheets of acrylic. The folds reflect and refract light which increases the light emitted by capturing each angle. The fact that the piece is hanging on thin strings means that it can move and create a dynamic light fixture. The design creates a unique spirit for whatever space it is used in.
  3. Sir John Soane created great beauty in interior spaces by the manipulation of natural light” (BROOKER G[2] & STONE S[3], 2004, p.159) The layout of the space is centred around this central sky-light which initially lets in the light. Circle mirrors around the space echo this shape and create the impression of additional light sources. The glossy table positioned under the sky light stops the light from penetrating into the fibres of the carpet and instead sends it back upwards into the space. The entire design is based around increasing natural light in the room.
  4. One of the phrases that we use is ‘painting with light’ and what we mean by that is taking a black space taking light to reveal the space” (NULTY P[4], n.d) Essentially this is what has been done in the crypt café at Saint Martin in the Fields church. Light is used to reveal the shape of the space; the arches in the ceiling, the pillars and the headstones in the floor. The repetition of columns and arches creates a vast space, this effect is increased by the use of light focussing on each pillar and each arch. The space could be quite oppressive with no natural light and made entirely from stone, however the clever use of artificial light creates a space to be explored.
  5. There are 3 types of artificial light, each serves a different purpose: ambient light (which provides enough light to see and circulate safely), task light (which helps with a specific task such as reading, preparing food or viewing artwork) and decorative light (which is a decorative element by itself, for example a sculptural light or chandelier). All three need to be used in a design in order to create a useable and interesting space. In this living room by Robeson Design[5] we can observe all the different types of lighting as well as natural light. There are recessed downlights to provide ambient light when there is no natural light. Also on the ceiling are directional downlights which are used to light up the piece of art on the wall below, these are task lights.  Further task light is the floor lamp which would help with the task of reading while sitting on the sofa. The decorative lights come from a crystal chandelier and candles on the coffee table.
  6. Light can help to bring out a texture on a surface. In this example, LED lights shining out from underneath wooden panels draw attention to the 3D nature of the feature wall. This 3D effect is increased by the direction of the grain of wood which varies from panel to panel. The low-profile furniture allows the eye to travel, unobstructed, to the feature wall. The shades of the bedside lamps cast their light downwards in order to avoid interfering with the light effect created by the wall.
  7. Chandeliers have been used for centuries to provide ambient light as well as being eye catching features. The glass or crystal helps to reflect and increase the light emitted from the bulbs or candles. In this example, at a hotel in Las Vegas, the light is increased even more by the reflective gold ceiling rose.
  8. The Arco floor lamp is an innovative light designed by Achille Castiglioni[6] and Pier Giacomo[7] in 1962.  “The question that Achille asked himself at the start of every design process was: will this solve a problem? […] Could Achille create an overhead light that would negate the need for fiddly wires or a complex installation?” (Nest[8], n.d) Although seemingly simple in design, the Arco floor lamp hides some notable design characteristics. The simple arc of the body perfectly reflects the curve of the shade. There is a distinct contrast between the polished chrome and the utilitarian concrete base, which has a hole large enough for a broom handle to facilitate moving such a large lamp.
  9. Daylight […] varies with the time of day, season and latitude […] The light of a clear day at noon is quite different in colour characteristics from the light of dawn or sunset. Cloudy day daylight is quite different from full sun, and winter light is different from that of summer.” (PILE J[9], 1997, p. 20) This image shows this: incandescent light which creates a warm yellow effect, indirect sunlight which is cooler, and direct sunlight which makes the walls look almost pink. An interior designer must consider the effect of light when choosing colours for a space.
  10. In a commercial space, like this hair salon designed by Frank Newbold[10], task lighting is one of the most important types of lighting as it will enable the employees to do their job correctly and therefore give the customer the best experience possible. There are two types of light fittings in this design, each serving a different purpose: the pendant lights create a well-lit environment to cut hair and the lights on either side of the mirrors serve to cast an even light over the customers face which creates a flattering atmosphere.
  11. During the Gothic period […] stained glass windows took centre stage in elaborate and monumental cathedral designs.” (History of Glass, 2019) Stained glass not only provides decoration to otherwise simple windows, it also colours the light entering the space, creating a feature from the light. Although traditionally used in churches, more recently stained glass has been used in contemporary interiors to elevate and make the most of the natural light entering a space. In this contemporary apartment, the colour is high up in the window in order to catch the most light and it is confined to rectangular panels in one colour only to create a stylised look. The more traditional stained glass in churches is made of organic shapes in multiple colours across the whole of the windows.

[1] Lead product designer for Studio M

[2] Head of interior design at the Royal College of Art

[3] Program leader for the architecture program at Manchester School of Architecture

[4] Founder of Nulty Lighting

[5] Interior design firm

[6] Italian architect and designer

[7] Italian architect and designer

[8] Independent online product retailer

[9] Interior designer and author

[10] Interior designer, finalist on BBC Interior design masters

3 thoughts on “Interior Design Elements: Light

  1. Hey, a really great piece of work!!! Good job!!😊😊 It’s particularly interesting to see the effect and variations of different light in the same space in number 9….. Xxxx

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 😊 Light is one of my favourites xx


  2. Thank you for sharing this article. It is so natural and so radiant. It really creates the flattering atmosphere.


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