One of my greatest passion in interiors has always been lighting design. I think there is nothing more exciting to pick and it can make such a big impact into your design scheme. When working for Tom Dixon Design in London, I had the amazing opportunity to learn about many technical aspects of lights and to create different lighting schemes for our clients. In my experience, I learned how crucial is to plan your lighting design ahead and how much it affects your overall living experience.
A client once told me that they bought an apartment and then started, on their own, some refurbishment works with electricians they found online. They wanted to add spot lights in the corridors and in the kitchen and have a pendant light in the living room. Unfortunately, they did not prepare any plan for the contractors whom had to work on the spot, without a clear brief and measurements. They ended up having an overdue amount of spot lights and the pendant light in the living room was not located where they hoped to. Together with the clients, we planned a new lighting scheme and reduced the number of spots lights and, finally, they could have the pendant light where they wished. These mistakes, and all extra costs included to repair to them, they can be easily avoid if you plan ahead where your lights will be located, the correct amount, the distance and the type of light you will use.
Living room featuring Copper Round pendant by Tom Dixon
Dining room featuring Beat pendant lights by Tom Dixon
To draw you lighting design plan, always start with a floor plan of the room and the correct measurements. Draw every internal wall along the room and the furnitures you are locating in it. You can do this by hand or with a CAD software (Computer Aided Design). Mastering floor plan design and CAD software, it is a skill that requires lots of attention to detail, sketch abilities or computer software knowledge. This demands years of practice, so if you cannot do this, contact an expert interior designer you trust.
I usually do first, the hand drawn technical plans and then, I transfer them into a CAD software (VectorWorks or ArchiCAD are my favourites) to make all measurements and adjustments. On top of your floor plan, draw where you would like to have the lights. Use different symbols for spot, pendant or wall lights and write a map legend for your electricians. If you can, for a more accurate result, write the distance between the lights and between the walls and the lights in the ceiling. Here below, you can see a lighting project we did in the UK for an open plan kitchen, dining and living room of about 120 m2.
Hand drawn lighting plan
After you have done your floor plan with all the symbols, draw as many elevations as you can to visualise ahead if you have the right light and proportion. Again, you can sketch this by hand or with a CAD software. Here below, you can see two elevations, one for a bathroom makeover and the other one for the project above.
Hand drawn elevation of a bathroom
Hand drawn elevation of a dining and living room
Another important aspect is always to think how you want to use the room that you are planning. For example, if you are designing your kitchen and you have a window, think if you prefer to have your sink or the cooking area by the window. Always use the architectural features of you room, such us the windows, the doors, some particular ceiling aspects, as reference starting point to start drawing your lighting design plan. If you cannot move them, it is just easier to include all features in your plan and make the most of it. Finally, to estimate how many lights and which type will you need, think how often will you use that area and during what time of the day. For example, in a dining area you might want to include dimmable lights for the evening and perhaps some spot lights to show the table's focal points, such as the center plate or the flowers.
I hope my tips will help you in the future to draw your plan before the electricians will knock at your door instead to do, like my poor clients in London, a double work to repair the mistakes. I will soon write more about lighting design, regarding each room in the house and outdoors, with the most exciting brands and products from the market. Lighting design is an interesting topic and also very vast. With so many manufacturers and so new trends coming out all the time, it is really important to stay updated.
If you have any question about this blog or you are simple curious to know more about me and my works, leave me a comment or an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be thrilled to get in touch!