Tag Archives: interior design

Lamp or not to Lamp – that is the Question

Increasingly we are posed with a question when we refurbish a scheme – whether it is better to specify dedicated LED light fittings or choose retro-fit lamps for existing fixtures? It’s a choice that can be tricky – so I thought it would be useful to share my criteria with you all. The truth is – LED lamps are improving constantly and I would recommend the current generation of lamps to anyone simply looking for a replacement. However – when it comes to professional lighting schemes – many of which must fulfill a function – some other considerations must be taken into account.


This is my selection criteria when choosing between a retro-fit lamp and a dedicated fitting.lamp 1


  • cheaper than most dedicated fixtures
  • lower cost could offer opportunities to use budget surplus elsewhere compared to dedicated fittings
  • offer a great saving compared to older technology
  • colour temperatures are much better now – good extra warm whites
  • better choices of colour temperature available now
  • high output GU10 versions of 600 + lumens out there on the market – 35W low voltage equivalents
  • manufacturers are offering genuine guarantees


  • Generally higher junction temperatures within the LED, so the chip is working harder lamp 2lowering it’s lifespan and making it more prone to colour shifting as it ages
  • Most lamps on the market are around 400 lumens output – with many lamps still struggling with good outputs.
  • Choices of colour temperature will affect the lumen output of the lamp – specifications on the box can get a little misleading and confusing.
  • Misleading labeling and widespread exaggerated claims of ‘50W halogen equivalents’ have undermined confidence in using lamps.
  • Lumen outputs are from the lamp only – once in a fixture there is undoubtedly a degree of loss that is difficult to measure.

lamp 3Remember for both dedicated LED fixtures and retro-fit lamps

  • both lamps and dedicated LED fittings require (whatever is dimming the circuit) to have a huge amount of extra capacity in the system to allow for a start-up spike of current.
  • dimming compatibility still critical between fixture / lamp and dimmer.

If you need advice on the new generation of lamps available that we recommend call us. We also have a full selection of dedicated fitting and luminaires to meet every purpose in your next project.

Time to Re-think Downlights

“What more do I need to know about downlights?”, you might ask. We all use them on a regular basis – what more is there to learn? Increasingly we have transferred our love of halogen to LED as the availability of conventional light sources has faded away. In this transfer to LED, must we change the way we use downlights in room design?

Four things that top interior designers do with LED downlights:

Use fewer downlights

    – in reality they are an over-used tool. There is a temptation to flood a space with light. Lighting down from a ceiling is very effective and a ceiling has lots of space for fittings – so it is easy to achieve. However I do advocate (that as often as possible) you must try to light something physical with a downlight rather than just space!

  1. Nobu-downlight-gridAvoid the ubiquitous row or grid of ceiling spots that are so tempting sometimes to position and install. Position a light fitting where we need the light. That may mean we have lights in the ceiling that are not neatly lined up – but that needn’t be a concern as the eye will see the light before it sees the fitting. In some instances the client may demand symmetry in the ceiling and they wish to avoid a peppering of holes. Solve this by choosing fittings that double or triple the down light source within a ceiling fitting and ensure they are adjustable.
    They effectively throw light into the space in various directions
  2. recessed_square_image_twin_03from a single point. Select a recessed fitting that sinks into the ceiling and is as unobtrusive as possible. This type of fixture often has a black recess but we have stocks of fittings available with white to lose them in a white ceiling.
  3. Use a downlight with beam width options. The results are worth the effort – variety is the spice of life and this can apply to our lighting. A short cut to remember is to specify a wider beamed light for the fittings around the perimeter of a room, so the light will wash down the wall a little and push those walls back – and tighten the pools of light inside the room so that the lighting is defined and not simply washed everywhere
  4. main-photoMake the transition from low voltage halogen to LED with care. Be mindful of the transition between the light sources and be aware of the comparative lumens levels (strength of light) between the old and the new technologies. Mains halogen = approx 450 lumens
    LV halogen = approx 900 lumens
    Gauge your choice of LED within these boundaries for the desired result between task and ambient.
    You will not need a large number of LED downlights to replace an existing halogen scheme. LED lamps are not achieving the LV equivalent in terms of power, but you should ask the question – “…do you really require a 900+ lumens level punch from a light?”.

Spotlight on COB


Chances are that you will be presented with a Chip On Board LED light any time now. As a designer you might understandably shrink from yet another wave of semi-conductor technology. After all, your job is to strip bare the rhetoric and specify lights that have both a functional and an aesthetic application.

The good news is that is why we are here – to filter the useful information from the blizzard of less than useful techno-blag. The even better news is that COB technology does offer the designer real advantages!

In the beginning…..

There was the classic LED – with wire leads in a cylindrical reflector package –known as a T-Pack. One LED, one colour – some came with and some without heat dissipation.

Then came SMD LEDs (Surface-Mounted Device). These LEDs hide wire connections.

They are directly soldered on a printed circuit board.

The latest generation of high-power LEDs is characterized by COB (Chip On Board) manufacturing. Numerous tiny semiconductor chips (LEDs) are mounted on a flat circuit board and covered by a common singular phosphor coating – creating an ‘array’.

So what is all the fuss about?

Ppx New COB SlideFinal-918Due to the small size of the LED chip, Chip-on-Board technology allows for a much higher packing density than surface mount technology. This results in higher intensity & greater visual uniformity for the user, no more clusters of dots often seen on early LED lamps.
Benefit: Compactness due to small size of chip High-Intensity, particularly at close distance.

By spreading the smaller LEDs over a wider surface area COB LED lights arguably provide a light that is easier on the eye, as the single point source is broader. A softer radiance is a key consideration for interior design where we find some LEDs are just too stimulating to the eye.

Benefit: Softer radiance.

COB-LED-Packaging-chip-on-board-COB-LED-module-10Watt-LCOB50-BThe mounting of the tiny chips directly on the substrate give added thermal benefits which is good news for longevity and performance. It is a method of LED packaging which has a number of advantages over traditional surface mount technologies such as the use of “T-pack” and Surface mount LEDs.

Benefit: Superior Thermal Performance for better lifetime, stability and reliability.

The figure on the left illustrates the differences in the number of LEDs that can be placed on a 10X10mm square and the resulting power output of the array.

As you can see, by using COB technology, the number of LEDs is 38 times higher than T-Pack technology and 8.5 times higher than surface mount technology, improving the brightness significantly.

Does this replace other technologies – such as remote phosphor? No – it’s another choice that should be weighed up by it’s own merits – including cost. However the new technology is delivered without a significant price disadvantage.

Never forget important issues over quality remain – when choosing all formats of LED, colour consistency, longevity, colour temperature and lumen levels are just as relevant as before. Remember to ask the manufacturer and avoid the bottom of the market!

VIDEO: 5 Tips on Kitchen Lighting

In this short video Andrew delivers 5 tips you must consider when designing your next kitchen scheme. We encounter bouncing light, task and work top downlights, accent and plinth lighting. Breathe fresh inspiration into your kitchen design by using these innovative tools!

The kitchen is the heart of the home and with so many now open plan and part of a wider family room, the lighting has never been more important to get right.

In this short video Andrew gives you 5 great tips on where to start when designing your lighting scheme for a domestic kitchen.

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

2. Areas of preparation needed higher levels of light – aiming for around 500 lux by running warm white fluorescents or strips of high output LED under wall cabinets if you have them is always successful. 

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

4. Create an accent light – consider the lower level of illumination to transform your space from more functional to atmospheric. Try adding pendants or table lights.

5. Kitchens become backdrops 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.

A Glaring Mistake


It’s that age old problem that bites us when we least expect (and cruelly) during the final installation phase of a project. For all of us who specify and design lighting – glare is a real problem – the need to provide sufficient light onto an object with the minimal amount of discomfort to the user’s eyes.Arguably the best lighting is where the cast of light is seen and not the source. However, unless completely shielded – light will inevitably be bright at source and likely to shine glare into the eye. Spotlighting is an application where designers have to be particularly careful.

Top tips to minimise glare if a fixture isn’t concealed:


1. Ensure the beam angle of the fitting isn’t unnecessarily wide – This avoids
extraneous light hitting the eye and directs light only to where it is required.

2. Choose a lamp or source (typically an LED) that is recessed into the fitting. How? Use a baffled fixture – which has a short tube/cylinder construction (typically black) – by sinking the source deeper into the fitting the spill of light is minimised

3. Add a snoot – Odd word for another tube added onto the front of a spotlight. This deepens the source thus hiding it further – reducing the angle of light that may trouble users vision.


4. Add a honeycomb louvre – Some fixtures provide the option for this – simply hiding the source from the eye at a wider viewing angle.

5. Be aware of unprotected LED chips behind lenses – The current trend
toward the miniaturisation of fixtures utilising LED’s small proportions brings with it a potential downside. Maximum output is achieved if the bare LED is behind a lens but it’s very harsh to the eye and must be used with care.

Lastly – if in doubt – dim the fitting but that is only supplementary and not a fundamental fix.

When you specify and purchase lights from us – this advice is all part of the extra value service we offer all our clients. So if you wish to light your next project with total confidence – call us and we will be happy to help!

All the World’s a (Lighting) Stage

tragedycomedyw3Lighting can have a range of moods and personalities. It can also play a whole cast of characters within an interior space. If the lights in a room were actors some would be demure shy and retiring and others loud and attention seeking show-offs.

Recently, wonderful new opportunities have arrived to conceal and embed fittings into the fabric of a building – allowing the light itself to become centre stage.

glint_situHowever, with the introduction of these new fixtures, I have not witnessed a trend to retreat back into the minimalistic style so prevalent in the 1990’s. This time we seem to be enthusiastically blending the highly decorative with a restrained play of light.

Often, there remains a need for a focal point – the star of the show – the chandelier or decorative pendant. In fact a chandelier’s impact is heightened when accompanied by a supporting cast of restrained wall lights, up-lights and down-lights.

On many occasions I have likened a lit interior to a painting. A good painter deliberately chooses a focal point, catches the viewers eye with a colour or the darkest point in the composition. As ‘lighting’ painters, we too need a focal point – a highlight or a low light that will draw the attention. A beautifully enduring technique is to use the decorative chandelier or pendant; it remains as relevant to our interiors now as it did in 17th century.

Solaris_Twin_situSo I call on you to be brave and keep embracing the chandelier, create wildly enigmatic focal points and yet consider a subtle palette of supporting light, so easily adopted now with the use of miniaturised LED.

Looking for inspiration on a focal point for your next project? Call us and we will be able to guide you through the alternatives that fit your requirements.