Lighting Affects How a Room is Experienced

Published by The Landsite on 30th January 2021 -


Lighting can revolutionise a room, whether that’s using it to create an energetic, productive or inspiring mood, or to make a space feel cosy and intimate.

Architects and interior designers use lighting to impact people’s perception and experience.  While functionality and efficiency are an essential part of design, the aesthetics and experience of people using that space are equally important. 

Lighting is far more than a functional aspect— a poorly lit room is more likely to elicit feelings of stress or unhappiness than a room bathed in natural light. The right lighting transforms an oppressive room into an inviting sanctuary. Used strategically, lighting evokes feelings and emotions, influences colour perception and changes your impression of space.

Poor lighting design is more likely to foster a negative experience. A dark room will feel unwelcoming; harsh flickering office lights are often attributed to making people feel stressed or unwell. Lighting that interacts poorly with wall colour can distort the look of furnishings and décor.  Most of us will have bought furniture or clothing that looked great in the brightly lit store, but not as good at home.

Interior designers approach lighting a space in three layers. Firstly, does the light fulfil its visual task, e.g. is there enough light to see a flaw? Secondly, ambience; using lighting to set a mood and create an atmosphere. And thirdly, lighting for visual interest – how can it add a touch of magic? 

Simple choices like high or recessed light fittings draw people’s gaze upwards making a room feel more spacious, as they view it vertically rather than horizontally. Using lights to reflect off of a pale wall colour enlarges a small room, and recessed lights create a soft glow that doesn’t protrude into the room.  And large windows maximising natural light make any space feel larger and more open. 

But it’s not just about the positioning of lights – the type of light is equally as important. A fluorescent light cools a room, whereas LED lighting warms it. Brighter lights create stronger emotions and a sense of energy, whereas dimmer lights have a calming effect. Warm lighting, reddish or yellowish, creates a cosy, comforting atmosphere, and light with a white or blue cast (closely resembling daylight) creates a more energised mood.

Offices and commercial spaces use lighting to encourage alertness and productivity. Ever wondered why staff are naturally keen for a desk close to the window? Natural light is attributed to increasing comfort in workplace settings, and therefore productivity. 

Home lighting is more complex as each room has a different function. The lighting needs to support and enhance the principal activity in each room—brighter lighting in a kitchen and more relaxing lighting in the living room and bedrooms, for example. Lowering the light over the course of an evening has even been shown to help reduce blood pressure and encourage people to relax. 

Architectural lighting follows similar principles. Architects use light to draw attention to textures, colours, and forms of a space; an intersection of art and technology.

As with interior design, architectural lighting works to foster the spatial experience, influencing mood, exaggerating architectural features, providing intimacy or functionality as required. It plays a vital role in how people experience and understand architecture, as well as allowing a building to function as desired.

Often function and efficiency can be the driving force behind lighting choices; but it’s the aesthetics that create the experience—any space can be positively transformed with creative and strategic lighting choices.

Take a look at our lighting specialists member Global Design Solutions Ltd here. 

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