Intro to Lighting Design: Qualitative & Quantitative Principles
Two foundational principles of lighting design guide most designers and architects—the qualitative (or aesthetic) aspect and the quantitative (or engineering) aspect of light.
The qualitative part pertains to ensuring that a space has a pleasing ambience. It is the artistic interspersing of shadows and light, darkness and illumination, highlighting figure and form.
The quantitative part revolves around providing adequate light for a space. The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) of North America publishes guidelines of light levels for many tasks and activities based on the nature of the space.
If the work of lighting design is left to services engineers to meet quantifiable regulation-determined light output requirements per application, then interior and exterior architectural spaces become soulless environments. Using qualitative measurements, architects and lighting designers should make sure that the architectural intention and aesthetics of a space be stimulating and motivating.
Put simply, when designing the lighting of a space, ask yourself, (1) what are the light fixture and light output requirements of the space (quantitative), and (2), how will the space meet the subjective, psychological experience of the occupant (qualitative)?11
The main writer for Alcon Lighting’s blog.
The term Architectural Lighting encompasses three main factors. The first is the building’s aesthetic, which is crucial for any commercial, especially retail, environment. The second consideration is ergonomic or functional — any aspect which improves one’s ability to live, work, function, relax or play — to make the space easier to use. The third aspect involves the efficiency of energy, ensuring that light is properly, which is to say economically or optimally, used and distributed.
The science of measuring light, photometry, specifically applies to light in a space. Photometrics gauges how humans perceive light — its coverage area, where light cuts off and the intensity of light in relation to distance from the light source. In practical terms, photometrics shows whether a lighting plan meets the qualitative and quantitative lighting requirements for a project.
Products can demand attention with the help of proper lighting. This means an open floor plan with tactical attention to lighting fixture placement, brightness, color temperature, and CRI. The ability of LED Lighting to meet these technical requirements is what makes it the #1 choice of lighting designers and architects.
At Alcon Lighting’s LA headquarters, co-founder David Hakimi adopted a 12 year-old dog named Nano and decided to bring him into the office every day. Let’s just say it garnered some attention. It quickly became clear that Nano, who’s now 14 years old, relishes a long nap. Nano likes to hop and curl up in an easy chair, resting his head on the arm, drifting into slumber. In fact, David says this is Nano’s favorite activity.
“98% of what gets built today is sh**. There’s no sense of design nor respect for humanity or anything. They’re bad buildings and that’s it.” – Frank Gehry. Fun fact: One of Frank Gehry’s most famous works as an architect is his own private Santa Monica residence.