Lighting Under Dark Skies

Lighting Under Dark Skies

When you think about it, most interiors are a cuboid. Yet the effect of light on one of its surfaces has a profound consequence on the ambience of a room. This is certainly the case with dark ceilings, they seem to be an ideal feature within an intimate scheme in a restaurant or a bar. Of course ‘the dark’ comes primarily from the choice of shade, yet the knack of making the space function as a place of hospitality – comes from the lighting scheme. Good lighting is often the difference between making a cosy environment, as opposed to an oppressive one!

It seems ironic that in today’s smoke-free world, we still crave the dark ceilings that were once bi-product of tobacco and coal fires. Yet, the atmosphere created by a light absorbent colour is convivial. It is also an excellent canvas for a designer to play with the contrasts between the lights and darks throughout the interior. In effect a deep shade ‘sucks up’ the light emitted from a fixture and minimises it’s spread – thus creating pockets of light. Assessing the space as a whole, these pools of light often take centre stage in the design.

Tips for the Dark Side

Graphic bar (above) shows exposed lamps that are called crown silver reflectors – reflecting the light back up onto the ceiling which (given it is black) produces a minimal reflection – retaining the light to around the fixture giving the appearance of being part of it – a halo of defined light.

Big Ferdinand (above) – the drop pendants are coloured black on the exterior but light on the inside – again emphasising the light itself rather than the fitting – at night.

Inamo in Covent Garden (above) – over the bar the buildings services are painted black and disappear, which hides everything that is unsightly and they fade away – giving the lit bottles and front of the bar the glory. It simplifies the aesthetics and with a darker background, the bar itself shines and is a beacon to customers!

Other views of Inamo (above) – the ceiling when mostly blackened visually promotes focal areas of the ceiling that are not black as a highlight – shown here – the perimeter coffer is lit and hanging pendants.

All the ceiling lights need to be camouflaged in black to keep them hidden – the aim is to see just the light source where we can.


Boccocino – (above) I like this as the dark patterned ceiling is repeated on some of the walls – fun and the black baffled light fixtures are attempting to be as subtle as possible. What this also does is allow the well-lit alcoves to become a strong pleasant wash of light.

Remember – if you choose the ‘dark side’ for your next project, talk to us about the lighting scheme and the available fixtures and fittings that are available among the many LED offerings currently available.

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