When designing for a retail space, it is important to consider not only the design aesthetic that needs to be achieved but also its patron and their intended experience.

Lighting design for retail spaces vary from displaying delicate pieces of jewelry to endless shelves of apparel; and when it comes to coffee shops, the detail and effort into lighting design is no different. Min Cho and Jill Enomoto, directors of store design for Starbucks, share their tips on how to use light to welcome and guide customer experience.

Take Advantage of Natural Light

It is safe to argue that no lighting technology or light fixture beats the benefits of natural light for health and energy efficiency. So how can you effectively use the natural light in your space? “During the day, try to take advantage of as much natural daylight as possible,” Cho said. “We try to utilize large windows, mirrors or skylights to bring natural light throughout a space.

Layer Light Throughout a Space

“Layering” doesn’t only apply to clothing, it applies to lighting as well. Designers use ambient lighting, task lighting, accent light, and general lighting to fill a space and to guide our eyes to products, entrances and exits, where to sit and relax and where to work.  Cho tells us how he incorporates ambient with accent lighting seamlessly, “Inside the store, we light up the bar area brighter to pull the eyes into the space while allowing the warmth of the café to remain prominent in the foreground.” 

Here’re a few examples of adjustable task lights like LED track lighting which can be used to light products or art and some examples of general lighting like warehouse-style LED high bay pendants which provide general lighting for a space. You can more about why you should use LED lighting for art and products here

Use Light Fixtures as Art to Create Visual Appeal and Drama

If the luminaire is going to provide light, make it a sight to see. Make a statement with your choice of decorative fixtures and see how much of an effect it can create in the room. Enomoto references the Starbucks location on Canal Street in New Orleans, stating that this particular one inspired some of the interior pieces: chandeliers created from old iron gates and another centerpiece made from vintage horn instruments.

Bring Down the Lights After Dusk

Mirroring day to night may work for some businesses and Cho shows us just how they do so. “At the end of the day, we want to evolve from day to night,” Cho said. “At locations that serve customers in the evenings, we add dimmers to make the space feel more intimate and use specific light fixtures to assist in the story telling.”

Look for Energy-Efficient Lighting (such as LED Lighting)

The switch to LED technology is at a rapid pace and soon enough no Starbucks location will be left behind. “We are utilizing energy-efficient lighting throughout our whole portfolio of stores,” Enomoto said. “Starbucks switched out incandescent and halogen light bulbs in our stores for modern LED Lighting fixtures and it’s helped us decrease our energy consumption.”

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