The Human Side of Lighting

 This entry foyer is certainly dramatic, but hardly inviting for people.

This entry foyer is certainly dramatic, but hardly inviting for people.

 This media room uses layers of  ambient, task, accent and decorative lighting to create a space where the people feel as important as the art.

This media room uses layers of  ambient, task, accent and decorative lighting to create a space where the people feel as important as the art.

The lighting industry has lately been so caught up with LED technology, looking only at technical measurements like lumen output, color temperature and CRI (color rendering index), that at times it seems we've totally forgotten about the most important thing- the human aspect of our relationship with light. Humanizing lighting has been the basis of my lighting design practice since the beginning, many years ago. It seems simple, to light things for people first, and furniture, finishes and fixtures second, but so many in the design world fail to do think that way. It doesn't help that design publications almost never show people in architectural photographs- we're naturally trained to think only about the environment, not the most important living organisms in it- humans.

We don’t just use light, we feel it. People are naturally, unavoidably drawn to beautiful light. I believe it's a part of our biological makeup, related to some ancient sense memory of firelight and candlelight. Lighting is not only about technology, it's also about aesthetics. I am definitely embracing LEDs, not only using them on all of my projects now, but also bringing them into my own home. Of course the output of the LEDs, along with the color quality they produce is extremely important. But I see these as a part of the design of the light source, not lighting design.

No matter what type of light source you’re using, the basic tenants of good lighting remain the same. A room comes alive when the optimal balance of different sources of illumination is achieved: some directional, some indirect...and some invisible to the eye. If your eyes are gently dancing around the room at night, taking in the people, the art objects and the architecture, then I’ve done my work as a lighting designer.