Light and colour are intimately linked. Both natural and artificial light plays a major role in shaping the decorative scheme. Many projects would benefit from the creative and technical input offered by specialist lighting designers, and if they are to be involved they must be brought in to the project at the earliest feasible stage.
Ideally, this will be before any major planning or design decisions have been made. If the project is small scale and the interior designer is ready to take on the role of lighting designer, it is still advisable to consider the lighting scheme right from the start rather than as an afterthought.
The best effects and schemes are conceived when light is given equal status with the planning of the space. If the project requires the planning and installation of a completely new lighting scheme, then it might be appropriate to allocate as much as 30 per cent of the budget to lighting.
That figure may be surprising, but it serves to underline the importance of good lighting to the success of a design proposal. When designing a lighting scheme, attention should be paid to the proposed colours and finishes, as these have a large bearing on how to effective the lighting is.
Before creating a lighting scheme, the effects of natural light within a space should be understood. How does light travel through space? How does it vary with time of day and time of year? Would changes to the size, position or number of windows benefit the scheme? Is the landscape immediately outside the windows responsible for modifying the light that enters the building? Understanding all these points can be difficult when the designer usually only has a very brief period in which they can experience the space for themselves at first hand, but research should be undertaken to allow a complete picture to be built up. Only once that is complete is it possible to decide how artificial light can be added to augment the space.
The addition of artificial light allows the designer to put light in specific places for practical need or decorative effect. It can create mood either in isolation or by supplementing natural light.
Artificial light is, of course, a necessity if the space is going to function at night. As described earlier when looking at colour, each type of light source creates light with different colour bias. It is possible to mix different sources, but this needs to be done carefully .
Light fittings are likely to evolve radically to cope with the need to reduce energy use over the next few decades.
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