Category Archives: Blog

DARC: Secrets of Dining with Light

Read my current feature article running in DARC the leading decorative lighting magazine. It focuses on the design of lighting schemes for dining areas both commercial and residential.

Points covered…

• Address multifunctions – of the space.
• Plan with multiple lighting circuits.
• Tips on over table decorative lighting.
• The importance of dimming.
• Layering with light

Click on the Darc Magazine Cover to read it in full.

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Image for social media purposes only:

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INTERVIEW: James Bassant – Astro

As a designer, you probably have specified an Astro lighting product at some time. In a new series of interviews with key people in the lighting industry, we ask for answers to the ‘behind the scene’ questions that shape the future of the lighting world.

Watch an insightful video interview with James Bassant – the co-founder and Design Director of Astro Lighting.

Astro is one of the largest and most highly regarded decorative lighting companies and widely known by architects, lighting and interior designers.

We ask…

What are the factors that are shaping the LED lights of the future?

What is the Astro design recipe?

What inspired his new ‘Coastal Range’ of LED luminaires?

Why LED lighting remains wedded to interchangeable lamps?

 

See a full gallery of Astro products by clicking on the panel below!

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Astro Lighting Interview James Bassant

 

Movers and Shakers for 2017

Another lighting year draws to an end, which prompts a natural moment to reflect and to anticipate what some ‘movers and shakers’ will do in 2017. I work with many brands in a 12 month period and due to the variety of projects I have a wider perspective on products and services than most. So I decided to choose 5 leading names in lighting and to offer you a snapshot of the short-term developments that may – to a greater or lesser extent – shake our world of interiors in 2017.

Astro

It’s been an important year for Astro and the company has seen some considerable changes in the last 12 months. A move to larger premises has been a footnote to a year of establishing their product design within the mid to high-end lighting market and they have announced their designs on the US market to boot!

I am impressed with a dedication to quality and finish which has culminated in their new Coastal range which features solid brass luminaires with inter-changeable lamps.

Visual Comfort

Visual Comfort has a huge presence Stateside and they have made a seamless transition to Europe. Their expanded warehouse facilities in the UK are intended to hold larger stock levels and provides a clear indication of their determination to make the whole designer range available here – all wired up for our region.

They have in fact consolidated the number of their offerings in order to achieve shorter lead times. The guest designers are an exceptional bunch – check out Aerin by Kelly Wearstler and everything by Kate Spade. The big news – hot off the press is that Ralph Lauren range is now heading to the UK pre-wired and ready to buy through Orange Lighting in early 2017.

Lumi Downlights

Orluna LED technologies pride themselves on the quality of their downlight units. They focus on the light engine and the optics to deliver luminaires that meet a high specification that is compatible with the demands of professionally designed interiors, stylish corporate spaces, and retail applications. They are an established player and have been producing their units from the early days of LED and they can boast some prestigious projects. One notable feature is the availability of high CRI 95RA throughout the range; a welcome feature in a quality fixture. They are promising increase lm/W efficiencies in the coming year which will maintain their relative standing with the competition. Fundamentally, their excellent build to order facility is ideal for the interiors market and caters for most project demands.

Integral LED

I make no secret of the fact that I work closely with the marketing and product development team at the UK-based LED lamp manufacturer. I was initially drawn to their stringent standards in quality control but they have keen prices too. In what will prove to be a feature of the coming year – 95RA CRI lamps will be a focus of their GU10 spotlight and GLS ranges. It would seem high colour accuracy for all will be the story of 2017.

I successfully completed a major refurbishment of a Bath Hotel using Integral’s filament candle lamps which look amazing in the chandeliers! As a preferred supplier Orange lighting enjoys the same purchasing power as a large lamp wholesaler – so have a look at the Integral Brochure (click here) and talk to us – you’ll even find me inside the brochure editorial, but don’t let put you off!

LED Tape

This year we discovered a 3 step Osram LED tape in various outputs there are different grades on offer to suit the project application and budget. I particularly like LEDFlex’s range and have a successful project at Brighton Grand to prove it! (See Case Study here)

Again Higher CRI as standard is a factor in the future. Flexible homogenous lines of light from LED tape within silicone sleeving is a fun solution to find applications for – let your imagination go wild!

Looking ahead…

I am currently testing driverless downlights which have proven attractive to use and offer a good budget solution. The possibilities with refurbishments using existing dimmer circuits are enticing. Going driverless maybe the highlight of 2018 but that is getting ahead of myself – let’s celebrate this festive season first!

Looking to hit the New Year running? Talk to us about your lighting options before Christmas and we will ease you through the transition in January!

Lux Live 2016 Update

Over the years, as LED has made an inexorable progress toward world domination – I have used LUX live exhibition as a sort or yardstick or bell weather of LED’s progression in terms of technological advances and its revolutionary influence on lighting design.

So I thought it would be helpful to share my observations made at this year’s event held at ExCel London last week.

OLED

A fun one to start – Organic LEDs have been with us for some years now and are still at the stage of offering decorative applications alone but nonetheless it is simply mind boggling that such a thin flexible material is actually a light source.

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CRI

It would seem that high CRI (colour rendering index) was once the exclusive domain of expensive fixtures. Many of these highly tuned downlights and spotlights met a ready demand from retailers and restaurateurs who are keen to represent colour that made merchandise and food look vibrant. This was compounded by the LED ‘Blindspot’ (read about it in an earlier edition here) that fails to display red at lower levels of rendering, sub-CRI 80RA.

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The big news this year is that increasingly you do not need sophisticated light engines to achieve top colour results. These improvements are dropping in cost and are available across the board – starting with spotlights, tape and soon featuring in all light sources – even outdoor lights!? Quite simply the type of chip needed to deliver this quality of light has experienced mass distribution and the heat management and on-board circuitry is in place to offer a cost effective unit.

For instance, we sell Integral LED spotlights that have a high CRI of 95RA which was shortlisted for last week’s Lux Award. Additionally, a leading LED strip manufacturer decalred that all their strip will be 90RA CRI rather than 85RA in the short term. Nothing wrong with 85RA for low colour sensitive interiors, but it’s good to know we are creeping towards that 100RA or perfect colour rendition.

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Remember we are happy to navigate you through the jungle of options and find a match for your next applications. For instance, our range of LED strip has never been more extensive and our new recommended downlights feature new higher colour specifications.

 

 

IOT

Many of us are sceptical about the ever-connected world. Certainly, if you had embraced the internet of things three years ago you would have experienced a false dawn? In truth lighting control is still in the realm of DALI and expensive building management control system sought by high budget projects….or is it?

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Personally, I think things are about to change and indications are that it is time to draw closer to the detail of the opportunity if not a full body clinch. For instance, the reality is that increasingly householders are being introduced to environmental control systems like Hive by the million as energy suppliers roll out digital metering – free smart meters.

Look into a MAPLIN store this Christmas and you will see the state of the DIY market which demonstrates the confidence retailers have for the connected ‘toy’ – the light bulb that changes colour, the kettle that can be turned on remotely. This year, a whole section of the show was devoted to IOT. Perhaps, as a design practise or consultancy, it’s a matter of academic interest only at the moment. Believe me, it will penetrate down to us soon and clients will be asking for it – not something to be ignored.

Can we adopt now – how can it be relevant and useful to you and your clients?
It’s become all about data collection through the luminaire, creating an intelligent building. Be careful not to lose sight of good lighting design in the process. If that is something that your project can benefit from then it could be worth considering. Watch this space for introductions into cost effective IoT lighting systems in the coming year – including training and webinars.

Hacking anyone?

cablesPoE or Power over Ethernet offers a fundamentally new way of thinking for all of us. As a consequence of LED lights drawing significantly less power – data cabling can be utilised to provide the power source. This means an electrician need not install the majority of the cabling as it’s all extra low voltage – a potential saving and at the very least, a more flexible system allowing for easy modification in the future.

Going Driverless

Driverless 230V LED Downlights: I have been testing a sample of a 600lm 3000K 230V powered LED Downlight – with NO DRIVER! It means one less component to fail and to pay for which makes it an attractive consideration. It’s a cost-effective solution that is not the holy grail of all forthcoming LED downlights but it is at the budget end of the scale and it seems to dim and perform well. We had the opportunity at the show to see a sample of this technology that will be offering tunable colour temperature of LED white light. In fact, I have been looking for new products that can offer 600lm or more for a low price – that still looks good. This is the first concept that enables one to avoid a clear lens model where the unadulterated LED source can hit you between the eyes. More on this in the new year as we include driverless products in our range.

It would seem that solid-state lighting continues to be the highly dynamic, rapid paced and occasionally bewildering technology that it has proven to be over the last five years. No doubt as an architect or an interior designer you want a contemporary solution for a space that simply works. This is how we help our clients on a daily basis, by navigating businesses like yours through a multitude of options. Call us for free advice and guidance on your next scheme.

Rhythm of Light

It has been a while since we discovered our third eye. In fact, it was 2002 when a German University scientist discovered a new set of sensors in the retina that triggers mood responses in our mind and body when exposed to light. The findings initiated a revival in the interest of circadian rhythms in the lighting world and with it a prediction that smart lighting would dictate lamp design into the next decade. However, some fourteen years later, one is left wondering ‘what happened’ with little evidence that the science has been embraced by lighting sector.

It would seem that light means more to us than just brightness – it has a far more profound effect than merely aiding vision. The SCN cell is hardwired directly into our internal body clock within the brain which research has discovered is incredibly accurate and sends vital signals throughout our anatomy. Each individual’s clock will run a 24 hr cycle but it is often not exact – it can vary in terms of accuracy. Our bodies recalibrate this clock with light every day. It is why blind people have the added challenge of becoming out of sync with day and night. Until 150yrs ago we were all happily dependent on natural daylight, firelight, and candles. Since then we have been changing our natural pattern with artificial illumination. But we ignore the importance of this light cycle at our peril.

circadian-2-thumbnail-olThis SCN cell is most stimulated by the wavelength of light within the blue spectrum. Give it a blue-enriched diet then it’s firing on all cylinders. Give it red and we’re getting ready to sleep. Naturally – if we are over-stimulated at night we cannot rest and understimulated in the morning we can be ineffective. Take the whole body clock into account and a lack of balance can lead to stress, depression and other illnesses.

As an example of a good balance of light, NASA operated strict circadian lighting control within the International Space Centre; prior to a spacewalk, the astronauts will subject themselves to a period of 6500K blue-enriched light, invigorating the body. To induce sleep they will bathe in very warm (blue free) light.
Despite all the science, the truth is that the methodology of blue and red light has not taken hold of ‘lighting industry’ imaginations – judging by a recent statement by the International Commission for Illumination things are still slow to ignite.

“…despite great promise, there are as of yet no protocols for providing specific “circadian” benefits in buildings for general populations.”

In a practical sense, there is an absence of affordable or accessible systems on the market – apart from some mid-market Building Management Systems. Yet I believe we can work with circadian know-how in all our projects at a relatively low cost. Using a range of differing colour temperature LED lighting units including; strips, downlights, and spots. Operating on several separate lighting circuits, with a compatible dimmer, an interior lighting scheme can be easily tuned to suit the time of day.

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Why not talk to us about your affordable lighting options for your next project. Remember, clever lighting schemes don’t always need to be smart!

Keep Your Lighting Human

The very best lighting schemes shape a room and its interior and complement all the items within the space. That is why lighting is such a critical factor within the discipline of interior design. Even the most simple of rooms should be filled with pockets of light at different intensities. Light must also be layered to give the interior depth. This is the mark of a great interior. All too often I see lighting schemes that ruin a room through an over-reliance on downlights – that effectively flattens the space and works against all the furnishings to render the scene two-dimensional and boring.

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To enhance your next project and to create a true three-dimensional wonder – I would like to offer you some practical steps along with the type of fittings that can be used to create the appropriate illumination. Remember, we are looking for a balance across three layers; top, bottom and the middle or human layer. Making light compatible with humans is an issue that tackles the need for non-glare light sources to make the illumination comfortable, whether the user of the room is seated, walking or standing and looking down on a surface. Here are some suggestions that should feature in your next design to create an amazing space, whether it is a lounge, dining area, bedroom or bathroom – in fact, every area within a building!

Table Lamp Lighting

Here, we are talking table lamps with a shade that allows light through and into the surroundings. Ideally, we aim to illuminate around 1 meter above the ground.

In seating areas – throw a soft light onto faces which avoids unappealing shadows on faces. Remember to emphasise the soft furnishings and bring life to fabric colours to enrich the room and create a (feature) pocket of light.

Wall lights

Again fixed lights provide the same level of light that needs to be sympathetic to the users around it. Choose a diffused / shaded light at around 1.7m high – and ensure that we play a complementary light on the occupants.

Free Standing Floor Lights

Standard lamps and floor lamps can serve the same purpose of table and wall lights and are ideal when you need a more flexible lightsource which is unattached. Again keep it user-friendly.

Downlights

Even the ubiquitous downlight can contribute to the middle layer. Firstly by angling the beam and washing the wall surface and reflecting light back into the room. You can also choose to illuminate soft furnishings and other objects like seating and curtain fabric.

Shelves

Bookshelves are a great way to conceal light sources and can operate effectively across the whole layer spectrum of a space. There are plenty of new products available that can be incorporated into furniture – LED strips are the key tool for illuminating shelving units to draw interest and project light. Within any refurbishments that are retaining shelving, you can simply add a small lamp on a shelf and effectively add another pocket of light to the scheme

Floor Uplighters
This fitting is most often confined to rooms within new developments that can plan in and utilise ground lighting that projects illumination up the wall or column. However, existing refurbishments where ground lighting is too intrusive can use free standing floor uplights – cheap and effective.

Orange Human Light from Tribe Media on Vimeo.

 

Lighting Kitchens: What’s Cooking?

You could say that the kitchen is the most multi-tasking room in the home. Traditionally it had been a place to prepare food. Increasingly it has rested the function of eating from the dining room and seemingly it has ambitions to become the very epicentre of the household. In fact, IKEA’s vision of the 2025 kitchen area recently described the space as the hub of a family home that operated as an intelligent functional space with a personal assistant built-in!

Like many others, my family operates entirely out of the kitchen, from preparing daily meals, lunch boxes, mastering homework and even entertaining friends. Certainly, food preparation areas need to be shadow free and bright but the space needs to make a seamless transition to a relaxing living space too. Lighting is the principle factor in this change of scene.

Here are some tips on lighting a modern kitchen – whatever the style – from farmhouse to modern sleek. I have included our quick tips video on the topic for easy reference too.

Tips

1. Light the ceiling where you can reflecting light at 4000K colour temperature will lighten the space, particularly during the day.

Note: you will need a 300mm minimum fall (by flex or drop rods) to make it worthwhile. Consider 2 lines of LED strip – cooler white (4000K) in the day and 2700K for the evening. The light needs to bounce back into a wide space for full effect.

2. Areas for food preparation need higher levels of light – aim for around 500 lux by running warm white fluorescents or strips of high output LED under wall cabinets is always successful.

Note: reflecting light off the wall under a wall cabinet helps throw the light towards you and ensures working in a shadow-free work surface. Throwing light on walls helps push them back and apparently widens a space too.

3. Downlights – are a great way to introduce much needed higher levels of illumination – so position them in line of the edge of worktops. 3000K colour temperature suits most kitchens perfectly.

Note: If the budget can afford it – a high CRI LED (95RA) will give the best results for wonderful food and interior colour rendition. You require at least 650lm per downlight or double up LED lamps by using twin downlight fixtures. Dimming is useful for the multi-task uses of the hub of the home.

4. Create an accent light – consider the lower level of illumination to transform your space from more functional to ambient. Try adding pendants or table lights particularly if the ceiling height is over 2.4m.

Note: Wall lights or dropped pendants throw light through the space and help balance the predominant downward direction of lighting.

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5. Kitchens become a scenery backdrop at night in open plan living areas – use plinth lights on separate circuits to use the space itself as an accent light for the family room.

Note: Plinth lighting is a useful night light or background illumination by giving low-level illumination that is subtle yet remaining useful.

Overall, remember the key to great lighting design is not to over light, as this will flatten the interior and make it appear bland. Make sure each chosen light fixture is doing a specific job – do not be tempted to just line up downlights to random throw light onto the floor. If it’s not doing a particular task – cut it from the scheme.

Breaking circuits down is a key to optimum control – these can be integrated into a sophisticated controls package or assigned simply to a manual on and off when required.

Always think about how light can be thrown up and down to contribute to illuminating the ceiling and floor respectively and remain aware of those reflected surfaces and their contribution to the aggregate illumination.

 

How to Size a Chandelier?

Next time you are adding lighting to a scheme why not ask yourself “if this room could speak what would it say.”

I find this creative prompt especially useful when deciding on a statement piece of lighting that will set the agenda for the whole space – a Chandelier for example. The interior may say ‘wow’ or ‘elegance’, ‘grandeur’ or even ‘funky’! (“who says that anymore”, response from my teenage daughter).

Of course, not all rooms need a shout out statement. You have the other furnishings to consider too and the general theme of the interior to balance. But if your room wants to make a singular bold declaration – let it rip! Remember, the right lighting makes a room look amazing!

Crucially, chandeliers are all about the size of the statement. Too small and it will appear paltry and it will be lost. Too large and they can shout too loud and seem vulgar? Certainly, we need to remember some ground rules in the specifying a lighting focal point, that strikes the correct design tone for the size of space. For a useful guide we have picked the brains of leading US interior designer Kelly Wearstler who uses chandeliers in most of her high end interior projects. She also designs many of the ceiling lights within the Visual Comfort range which is available through the Orange Lighting website.

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(Pictured: Paris Flea Market Chandelier)

Here is a Guide to Chandelier Specification: 

Size: As a general rule of thumb, you can add the length and the width of a room together (works best in feet) and convert the result into inches to arrive at the ideal diameter for the feature light.

Example: So for a rough guide, a room is 8m x 5m what diameter pendant/chandelier 
are we looking for?
8m = approx 26 ft / 5m = 16 ft
26 + 16 = 42 ….convert to 42 inches which is approx 1m diameter

Height: The drop down length is determined by allowing a minimum 12 inches gap overhead height – so seven feet should suffice. Placement over a dining area should permit a metre between the chandeliers lowest edge and the table surface to avoid head butts when serving.

Shape: A full four-tiered chandelier may suit the centre of a square Ballroom but do consider the proportions of a room before you specify your decorative centrepiece. In the case of corridors, bathrooms and hallways use a linear fixture that will complement the portions of the room.

Scale: Sometimes the desired size of the feature is not practical for the intended interior. Resist dramatic pieces if the fixture is likely to be upstaged by other furnishing or simply if the chandelier is so dramatic it needs a solo performance. Err on the side of ‘over-sizing’ – there is nothing worse than a diminutive chandelier.

Light texture: Keep in mind the function of the light too. No doubt it is wonderful to waltz under a crystal chandelier that sends shards of prismatic light across the floor; not so ideal to dine under it or to conduct a conference session. Of course, secondary schemes can pick this detail up but bear in mind the type of light that the chandelier emits. Porcelain shades shed a romantic candle light that is ideal for dining, and artificial diffusers can provide a variety of light textures to suit the purpose of the room.

 

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View our Visual Comfort range for design inspiration or call us and we will refer tour wealth of experience to find the perfect statement for your next interior project.

VIDEO: Review of LED Vintage Lamps

It would seem the Edwardian legacy of squirrel cage filaments are here to stay, given the enduring popularity of the style. Lamps with an Edison look seem well suited to the heritage industrial interiors favoured by bars and restaurants across the country.

As ‘visible’ light sources, these filament GLS lamps are attractive to the eye, however, like all businesses, leisure, and entertainment outlets remain vigilant on cost. Conventional squirrel cage lamps offer low levels of light output for high energy input which is exacerbated by this style of pendant being suspended in groups or cascades for the desired effect, which also adds to the expense.

So an LED substitute was an obvious solution but apart from the shape of the glass, the internal LED filaments have struggled to match the refinement of the original fine strands of filament.

The next generation of LED filaments brings an improvement for energy efficient vintage style lamps that offer the authentic ambience and an improved appearance towards the first electric lights.

Integral LED’s Sunset range is a good example of a new generation of LED retro lamp. A new wave of LED innovation that has enabled longer filaments which in turn has produced a more authentic legacy look.

Their range includes large sphere through to conventional globes and an original Edison inspired ST64 or squirrel cage light.

All the lamps are enclosed in amber glass to replicate the vintage warm glow – these are 1800K giving you a the look of a dimmed tungsten filament lamp and it delivers 85% energy savings

The Sunset lamps are powered by a mere 2.5W and have effectively combined vintage looks with A+ rated energy credentials.

Integral LED also claims that the lamps have an average lifespan of 15,000 hours which is up to 5X longer than many decorative filament bulbs on the market which is ideal for the demands of commercial lighting.

We can supply these lights for your next Bar, Restaurant or Leisure project – call us for a price!

 

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LED Strip: Is it Safe to Dim?

It appears that we have travelled a long distance in a short time with LED. Given its success as a lighting technology – it is sometimes difficult to believe that it had a dodgy start in life. Frankly, the first generations were harsh, somewhat blue in colour and they failed to dim! In fact, many of these issues have now disappeared, yet a lack of confidence persists amongst the trade and design professionals.

With LED tape in mind, I visited a wholesaler as recently as last week, who continues to advise their customers to stay away from dimming. An outdated notion perhaps, certainly a hangover of a legacy of unreliability and a very real concern if you have had fingers burnt in the past which costs everyone money and time to resolve.

It seems a pity that designers do not embrace LED in all its forms and across all budgets. I am mindful of the residential or small leisure / retail project that doesn’t warrant the expense of a fully digital dimming system. Here, refurbing a room or rooms mostly lends itself to a simple solution which is ‘mains dimming’.

Believe me, mains dimming LED downlights is now easy and reliable and it is a topic that we have covered on frequent occasions in the past. The mains dimming of LED tape has been around some time too BUT the range of dim i.e. how low it reduces – was inadequate and hardly worth the trouble. I’m here to tell you that with the right combination of LED module and driver, these days the dimming of tape is reliable.

The module we prefer to use at Orange Lighting is a common inexpensive model – another bonus! Importantly, it has a potentiometer on the side, a small screw which gives the installer the opportunity to raise and lower the range of dim.

If you desire peace of mind, when you buy from Orange Lighting we help customers specify the a complete install as part of the service and we will recommend the modules to suit each circuit for the project you are managing. For instance – downlights need a dimmer module suited to the sensitivity of constant current LEDs – we take the chosen lamps and dedicated downlights and ‘marry’ them with a model best suited as a constant voltage driver for the fittings.

Another stumbling point for designers who are running solo on their own projects, is the choice of switch plate which may not allow for the different versions of dimmer module. This is an area which requires scrutiny, for instance, we recently had to modify a plate to fit the 2 types of module.

The good news is that it is safe to specify dimmable LED tape for your next interior project. However, it still essential to specify the right equipment for the job. Compatibility issues exist between the fitting and the driver and details like ‘minimum’ loads need to be checked and calculated before installation. Why not rely on the accumulated experience and know-how of the Orange Lighting  team, when navigating through the perils and pitfalls of LED dimming next time you require lighting – it can save time, money and your reputation with the client!