THE MAGIC OF LIGHTING
Texto: Gabriela Düker Fotografías: PHRANK, Lasvit, IP44, Gabriela Düker, Qis Design, Kreon, Occhio
Back in 1923, Le Corbusier already stated that “a house is only liveable if it’s full of light and air”. Light influences our feelings and wellbeing, and only thanks to light can we see what is around us. Also, it is a very effective design tool, almost magically so. You need a lighting concept that suits the different activities that you carry out in a home – reading, watching TV, cooking, eating, playing, working, relaxing – so that the light can fulfill each function. Therefore, planning the distribution of your points of light should be just as important as choosing your furniture.
Some interesting facts: with the arrival of LED lights (light-emitting diodes), the concepts of “lamp” and “luminaire” have been defined anew. Colloquially we talk about “light bulbs” although they are in fact “lamps” (incandescent, halogen, energy-saving, etc.). The lamp is actually the light source, while the luminaire presents and protects it.
When planning our lighting, first of all we must determine how much light is needed in each space and what for. Only then can we choose the lamps and luminaires that suit both the aesthetic taste and the décor, as well as fulfill the lighting functions required.
A good lighting concept will cover three objectives:
Basic lighting serves to light up working spaces and to guide us in the dark. Basic lighting that incorporates a dimmer can be regulated to provide a pleasantly diffuse light or a strong beam that will light up every last corner.
Focused lighting (accent lighting I) aims light at spaces where it is needed in order to carry out specific activities – for example: the dining table, a work space or a reading corner. This is achieved by aiming the light towards the desired area and using light fittings that reproduce colours faithfully.
Atmospheric lighting (accent lighting II) generates a welcoming ambience. The different points of light create isles of light that give atmosphere to the space by accentuating colours, structures and objects, without lighting up the whole room.
Natural light is very powerful, and it influences our mood and changes throughout the day and over the seasons. Sunlight creates the most beautiful ambiences when it shines obliquely, so sunrise or sunset or a golden autumn light have a special magic to them. The colour of this light is not a pure white, but instead a warm white (2700-3300 Kelvin).
By combining various light sources, we can recreate natural and changing ambiences indoors: ceiling or wall projections, table or standing luminaires, and accent lighting, for example with oblique lights that attract people’s eyes towards paintings or walls.
Often there is one single electrical point in the middle of a room and a single lamp that offers light from above. This makes the room seem smaller and often sends light to where it is least needed. If there are no other light cables, then we need to be imaginative or perhaps install some extension cables.
A room that is evenly lit is tiring to the eyes and unpleasant in the long-run. Playing with lights and shadows gives depth to spaces and enhances the contours of the objects within them. Light sources at different heights give structure to a space and create at the same time a kind of tension between the separate areas.
When renovating a home, a good trick is to light up the rooms with candles to observe the effects of different lighting options. The best way to proceed is this: in a semi-dark room, stand or sit in the most relevant places. Let your eyes wander around the room and use a candle to light up the areas that your eyes naturally settle on. Then turn out the lights almost completely and let the magic of the candlelit areas guide your decisions as to what type of accent lighting would be best.
Light and colour – an alliance that creates harmony and pleasant ambiences. The stimulating and healing effects of coloured lighting are well known. You can use a halogen lamp to light up a wall with colour or you can fill a room with the light of LED lamps. When choosing wall colours you must bear in mind that, the darker and more intense the colour tone is, the more light it will absorb. Surfaces with light colours reflect light better and need less intense lighting. If, in spite of placing projectors adequately, dark colours are still not distinguishable, the problem is not the luminaires but the lamps. How natural a colour appears when lit up will depend on its colour reproduction properties. This is measured using the colour rendering index (Ra), of which the optimum value is Ra = 100, and the minimum recommended for a household bedroom is Ra ? 80. With energy-saving bulbs and LEDs, this value depends on the manufacturer, although it is usually between Ra ? 80 and Ra = 90. Halogen lamps reach a Ra index of 100 and so are ideal for lighting up paintings or coloured walls.
It’s a good idea to find out about the way LEDs work and their structure before buying them. The light a LED emits comes from very small light sources, and only by installing tiny reflectors can you achieve a reflection angle of 15 to 180 degrees. Therefore, the quality of a LED light depends on the structure of the luminaire. Since LEDs have a long life, it is a good idea to buy good quality luminaries so you can fully enjoy this new lighting concept.
Follow the basic rules when planning lighting, but personalize the colour scheme – you will be surprised at the good mood and wellbeing that will flood the magic of light in your daily life and in your home.