Published on:

03 January 2023

Updated on:

25 January 2023

Read time:

1 minute

Kim Dixon

Junior Designer

When it comes to corporate lighting design, the industry is playing catch up. Designer, Kim Dixon contemplates the importance of lighting; how it makes a place feel; and why it’s time to take a considered approach and offer end-users a more tailored experience.

We’re all familiar with the plush hotel interiors that exude a certain atmosphere; the bars and restaurants that automatically make us feel like we want to hang out; and the private lounges that give you no reason not to settle in and make yourself at home for a few hours…

So why does it feel like many offices are lagging behind when it comes to enhancing user experience and offering maximum comfort? We’re nailing it on space design and furnishings but it’s the lighting that lets the side down for most office interiors.

What’s to learn

The luxury retail and hospitality industries have a lot to teach us when it comes to lighting. Hotels, bars and restaurants use lighting to set the tone; making people feel comfortable and relaxed; creating a certain ambience. Lighting is used to determine boundaries, indicating where lounge areas and reception spaces are set. It’s an active part of the design.

Workplaces have a different requirement from hospitality settings – although the need to create zones has been recognised in the contemporary office environment and is acknowledged as a key part of enabling activity-based, hybrid working. Current fit outs plan the space accordingly, creating a flow of movement between dedicated areas. However, there’s also opportunity to maximise the use of lighting further to address user wellbeing and comfort.

If you consider the length of time we spend in the work environment compared to the time we spend in retail and hospitality settings, the comfort factor, acknowledged by these other sectors, takes on a greater significance. The places we spend most of our time – home and work – should provide the most comfort and each contributing factor should be addressed.

Starting with the basics

A good level of lighting has been proven to have positive effects, both mentally and physically. If we pitch from the point that the most healthy option to work in is natural daylight, the first thing to do, when analysing a space, is to consider how much natural light the building has access to and how to maximise this so that it is absorbed into work areas, where people spend most of their time.

When you’ve made the most of the daylight, the next step is to fill in and enhance where you need to. Light requirement, per square cubic metre, is counted in lux levels. An open plan office should have a measure of 500 lux; a collaboration area requires 300-500 lux and you can pitch anything below that for intimate meeting spaces and rest rooms. An easy note to remember is, the more detailed the task, the greater the light requirement. Basically, once you’ve met the main requirement and secured your general lighting (LED 500 lux plus), you can concentrate on what’s known as layered lighting and task lighting to create zones, including intimate, calmer zones.

Staying ahead of the game

If we want to use the office to attract and retain talent, we have to use lighting to better effect, recognising that it’s how a place feels that is most important, regardless of how it looks. Lighting should take into account the work the team is doing and where specific tasks are being done - it’s the effect the lighting has on the space rather than the fixtures you’re using that truly counts. If a zone has been created for a specific purpose then the lighting should be tailored accordingly.

And, finally, a tip for you. Those planning a fit out, who want to come out on top and really impress the team, take this opportunity and go for individual desk lighting. Remember, we want to invite people back into the office and make it as comfortable and comforting as possible. Personalising the ambience for each individual and allowing them to fine tune it to their specific comfort level is about as good as it gets.

Meet the Author

With a varied scope of experience, derived from sectors including commercial, retail, residential and medical, and encompassing all aspects of interior design, Kim is a dedicated, creative talent who is enthused by spaces that fully engage the end-user. Kim’s vision is to provide workplaces that inspire the worker.