Whether it’s the colour of the walls, type of music playing in the background or even a faint scent in the air, it can change our mood, and our body language.
Everything physical that we see and touch can only be seen because light is interacting with it from a source such as a light bulb or even the sun. Light interacts with everything around us, gives colour its many different hues and gives contrast and depth of field. Light is one of easiest ways to change the character of anything it touches and this is why lighting is considered most important for institutions such as art galleries and museums. Lighting installations for these types of places evolve to render the various and constantly changing projects and exhibitions to replicate how the curator wants the space to be perceived by visitors.
Dimmers – One of the most powerful manipulators of light and easiest to install and use. These fantastic devices can often be taken for granted but the range of manipulation they provide can vary from one hundred percent light output for work or reading or other intricate tasks right down to providing low light levels for a relaxing or a romantic setting. Today technology provides more dimming platforms and options when compared to the simple wall dimmer.
The colour of white – You may have experienced a store with bright white lights. They are often that way for a simple reason – to make it uncomfortable so customers do not hang around the store but instead purchase what they need and then leave. It’s amazing how many hotels that use the same type of very white light, inadvertently keeping their customers awake by confusing their circadian rhythms and sleeping patterns. The human body interacts to the colour of light which is why we don’t have nice warm lights in offices otherwise we would have a much less productive society. This is also why you wouldn’t want to put very white light in your lounge room or bedroom as it may affect your sleep by confusing the brain to think it is in the middle of the day right before you are about to go to bed. In hotel rooms and bedrooms keep the light at a warm colour temperature of around 3000 Kelvin for a welcoming and happy customer experience.
Contrast – Quite simply put, contrast is the difference between light and dark areas. Contrast while driving can be a distraction and danger especially when entering into tunnels or car parks in the daytime which is why there are more lights at the entrance and end of road tunnels than in the middle as it provides a more uniform look and gives our eyes time to adjust to the difference of bright to dark and dark to light. For non-task related requirements, contrast provides the human eye with differences in what you are looking at and can create a comfortable environment. In retail especially, contrast is use in many ways to manipulate the way we perceive an area or store. A Kmart or BigW typically wash the stores with even light distribution without many dark areas and therefore purposely creating a cheaper feel to their environment. A more boutique style department or retail store will use spot lighting to create light and dark areas and therefore giving to the illusion that the store is more expensive or high end. Contrast is good as long as there is light where you need it for reading or other similar tasks. This type of lighting can be created with spot lights by highlighting areas of a space while keeping it functional.
When a space is tired or needs an uplift we often think about spending large amounts of money for new furniture, carpet or painting the walls when all the space may need is a good look at the way it is lit. Lighting is very much underestimated but it’s there to be manipulated and is the easiest to change for a fresh different look and feel.