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Architectural Trends Shaping Commercial Lighting Design in 2023

Architectural Trends Shaping Commercial Lighting Design in 2023

You can find several architectural trends for 2023 featured in the Plant Seven coworking space in Highpoint, North Carolina, including rounded pendants, bold pops of color, natural wood finishes, and homey plaid-patterned chairs
Published on January 17, 2023

Last updated on February 8, 2024 6:39 pm


Commercial architecture trends for 2023 account for lessons learned during the pandemic, specifically, that health is essential and nature is nurturing. Now more color and action are welcome, and this is evident in Pantone’s 2023 color of the year, Viva Magenta, which “vibrates with vim and vigor.”

This modern restaurant and bar space uses magenta and other hues of pink with pink accent lighting and warm color-tunable lighting to create a fun atmosphere
Pops of magenta and other pink hues enliven this restaurant space with RGBW and tunable-white LED lighting to accent and create an inviting atmosphere.

Based on Alcon Lighting’s commercial lighting case studies, its pending commercial and residential projects and observations of current architectural trends, here are six architecture and lighting design points to consider for your upcoming project:

Flexible, homey layouts

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, many workers began working from home. People co-opted singular spaces and pieces of furniture to serve multiple uses. Commercial office interior and lighting design plans were trending toward flexibility prior to the pandemic. New design plans reveal a renewed commitment to casual communal spaces, unassigned seating and extra amenities.

In 2023, ambient lighting will become more prevalent in commercial lighting projects. A popular choice among designers is uplighting, which is a form of indirect lighting. This provides adequate and even distribution of light for a range of activities, while eliminating glare. Table and floor lamps with dimming features lend a residential feel and invite occupants to adjust lighting levels to suit their needs. LED pendants will have more appeal over typical overhead lighting options such as fluorescents, which can make spaces feel cold and institutional.

LED pendant lights in The Commune creative co-working space highlight some of the architectural trends of 2023, such as a "resimercial" design
The Commune creative co-working space in Austin, Texas offers workers the feel of home in common areas with tunable-white LED pendant lighting that balances with natural lighting.

Curving forms and handmade touches

Further playing off the residential influence permeating the design of commercial spaces, soft forms are playing a more significant role in architectural and interior design plans, such as curved sofas and seating, arched details and rounded corners. Natural finishes, textures and tactile fabrics, such as felt, velvet and boucle can complement these shapes.

Rounded pendant lights with a warm color temperature complement the natural wood finish in the kitchen and lounge area of the Tabor Center WeWork office in Denver, Colorado.
Modern ring pendants and chandeliers provide unity and cohesion to the softer form’s architectural design plan of this middle school in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Designing for health and well-being

Commercial interior lighting design plans can support the health and well-being of occupants. Considering human-centric lighting principles and factoring in the human biological clock or circadian rhythm, lighting can promote rest, recovery, relaxation and alertness.

While incorporating as much natural lighting as possible in your design plan is ideal, artificial lighting has progressed significantly in the last decade. Color-tuning and tunable-white LED lighting can convincingly mimic daylight color temperature changes throughout the day. This not only provides an improved sense of well-being but also has been proven to increase productivity.

Abundant natural light paired with tunable-white LED lighting provides an optimal learning environment for children.

Continued focus on sustainability

As businesses bring teams back to the office, designers re-envision commercial interiors with continuing emphasis on sustainable design.

LED lighting can reduce energy use while providing a range of controls, particularly when combined with smart building technologies and networks that use occupancy sensors and demand-response lighting in commercial applications. As an added bonus, these fixtures and systems can achieve certain sustainable certifications, such as LEED, in addition to operating cost savings.

User-friendly controls

Creating personalized spaces in which users spend significant portions of the day is important as America’s workforce returns to offices.

Creating layers of light with task and accent lighting and providing intuitive controls and increased settings for color and intensity can afford workers more control of their interior environments promoting comfort and productivity.

Neutrals punctuated by bold flourishes

Finally, color palettes are trending toward softer shades accented by terra cotta, rust and earth tones. However, neutrals need a counterpoint, such as pops of orange, olive green and, of course, Viva Magenta. 

Highlighting another 2023 architectural design trend, this photo shows a lobby where pops of vibrant wall colors offer a counterpoint to neutral furnishings
Vibrant colors serve as a counterpoint to neutral wood finishes in this modern lobby.

Architects and lighting professionals have the power to improve the human experience in spaces they design—a responsibility not to be taken lightly. Today’s designers contrast light with dark, calm with bold colors and blend modern design aesthetics with soft, comforting elements to enhance commercial spaces. As designers adopt architectural trends supporting health, comfort and well-being, you can embrace this new practice with confidence, vim and vigor.

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[…] pendants of 2 feet, 3 feet, 5 feet and 6 feet. with no particular design pattern. “The beauty of lighting design right now is in breaking rules,” says Perris Weber, an Alcon Lighting Sales […]