Lighting Design: The key to a successful lighting project

Lighting design is a key consideration in a building project or building upgrade. Of course with such a huge variety of tasks to be carried out, there are many other very important players involved, each bringing to the project  the necessary experience and expertise required. Architects and surveyors, project managers and tradesmen are all focused on checking and double checking that they have the correct drawings, materials, project schedules and access to site. The project manager will often be coordinating multiple tasks, juggling time and attending meetings. So where does the lighting designer fit in?


The Lighting Designer – Get started Early

Lighting design makes a significant contribution to the functionality, ambience and success of a building and requires expertise.  To see how ambience can be created take a look at these spectacular led panels in our LED Lighting section. If you’ve produced a lighting design or been a recipient of one, you’ll know that it is very likely to change several times. Accurate drawings can often minimise the number of design revisions.

The designer loves accurate drawings. They will be keen to get early visibility of the plans for the building along with scaled drawings showing as much detail as possible. This is the case with new builds, extensions to factories or commercial properties. (Residential lighting design is a subject in itself and we can look at that at another time). A design brief is a key document outlining the scope of the project including deliverables, products (functionality and aesthetics), timescales and budget. These are just a few of the items that the designer needs to acquire at an early stage. If possible meeting with technical consultants, M&E engineers and the client always helps later when trying to get feedback or talk directly with those people to acquire information.

The lighting designer will consider many aspects of the project including emergency lighting which is covered in our Emergency Lighting blog. They will then painstakingly narrow down the choice of luminaires and their position and functionality. The designer will tie in with the M&E contractor and architect and generally follow the RIBA Plan of Work.


Role of the Lighting Designer

The lighting designer is committed to producing excellence; after all the lighting will be there for everyone to see. Better still if the lighting is not so conspicuous but that the space is beautifully lit. How people interact in the spaces, what activities are taking place and at what time of the day will influence the lighting design.

For example lighting controls allow lights to dim when there is adequate daylight thus saving energy. Lighting can also be switched off or dimmed on low occupancy, another energy saver. The quantity, position and lumen output of the chosen luminaires will have an effect on the spread of light and any likely glare. Colour temperature (basically how yellow or white/blue the light appears to be) is a key consideration in setting ambience; for example an intimate restaurant would generally be lit with lower colour temperature luminaires towards the yellow end of the spectrum rather than the clinical white/blue of a higher temperature light.



The lighting designer should be involved at an early stage in the process. They will guide the client in the choice of light fittings and will have an in depth knowledge of the supply chain ensuring that your lighting comes from a reputable manufacturer with solid after sales support. Your lighting designer will be able to offer certification for their emergency lighting designs along with full design documentation, so that you can visualise in advance your lighting proposal. Their experience of multiple projects will minimise the chances of getting the lighting wrong and ultimately save you time and money. Now isn’t that what we all want?

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