Tag Archives: lighting design

Nobu: Monte Carlo


During these hot Summer days and nights – my thoughts drift back to a wonderful project – designing the lighting scheme for a NOBU restaurant in Monte Carlo (no less). In a place with seemingly constant sunshine, it was an interesting challenge translating the role of artificial light under the intense Mediterranean sun within a highly glazed space raised and cantilevered over the sea.
After all – lighting design primarily looks at illuminating a space when the sun goes down, but it is important to remember that it remains an important tool to use in the day. The interior scheme had a cool coloured palette so light reflected very well – but we still needed to produce highlights with lighting strong enough to cope with a restricted field of contrast. Inside, the drinks and sushi prep bars needed to be lit well throughout in the day.
The challenge was to create an illuminated atmosphere conducive for high-end dining in what became an increasingly restrictive space. The concrete construction and the various site constraints stopped us from using many ‘go to’ solutions. Coupled with the interior designer’s preference not to use floor and table lights; the opportunities to position and hide lighting fixtures shrank dramatically.

What do you do…

This is when every lighting fixture counts and it must make a major contribution to the scheme or it’s out. Too much lighting kills the dining atmosphere and we had to heavily rely on downlighting from a relatively high ceiling. This is where commissioning and the scene setting was so important, to build in lots of circuits for as much control as possible within budget and shape the scheme from there.


We also decided to create pockets of light that formed accents, lightly contributing to the overall lighting levels at night. This was mostly affected by lighting the sculpture.


The one place we could deploy recessed floor lights was to enhance the evening scene with a shimmer of the fabric which echoed the rippling of the sea. The was achieved by siting voile fabric surrounding the private dining tables, and uplighting and downlighting the material with a 3000K warm white shallow recessed floor up-lighter.Voiles


Another challenge was lighting a huge winding sculpture – a bespoke piece only seen in sketch form at the time of our design. The key was to light it dramatically without spoiling the ambience of the rest of the interior. However, how do you light a sculpture that is so open, where some of the light catches on the form but a lot of it will just pass through and travel deeper into the space?

“What do you do with this light spill – harness it or minimise? How do you avoid glare to the diners?”

The solution to this major piece of the lighting design jigsaw was to light it in pockets to create accent light. Choosing lines of sight from common thoroughfares we lit the piece to draw the eye through the space to the sculpture. The fixture we finally chose to do the job was a deep baffled LED spotlight on drop rods, with a long snoot at the front of the light to restrict potential glare unless a diner tried to look down the barrel of the fitting. This also helped funnel the light and stop unwanted spill.

“How do you create a flexible lighting scheme in a widely open plan space that required flexible table plans – in fact no specific set table plans?”

Downlighting was the only tool at our disposal. Breaking the fixtures down into multiple groups for a number of preset scenarios so the tables could be moved but would have to follow the spotlight onto the middle of the table.

The issue with too much downlighting is it can flatten the scheme with light mostly coming from one direction. They had to be significantly dimmed at night but were still on call to whack up to full on dull winter days. Amazingly, even Monaco gets rain!


The captivating drama of the restaurant is the sushi preparation area ‘staged’ within the restaurant. It had to be well lit for the safe functional use of extremely sharp knives, the sculpture above had to be lit too – all without bleeding out too much light into the dining space and flattening the lighting scheme.

We initially tried to rely on the overhead downlighting through the sculpture but the lux levels were not sufficient and we had to cancel out unwanted shadows from the sculptural rods above. We choose polished chrome display lighting to increase the levels, positioned close to the task area.


There – a thorny problem but successfully resolved and a scheme that has received complimentary feedback by the operators and customer alike.
If you have a knotty problem why not share it with the team at Orange Lighting. It’s not everyday we are commissioned by Monte Carlo restaurants – we happily make do with the UK! Just call us…


2.4W 2700K LED Uplighter

LED Spot on drop rod with long snoot – sculpture lighting

Adjustable LED Downlight 950lm output

Adjustable LED Table Mount Pin Spot in Chrome – Sushi Bar

Social Media Purposes:

Bedrooms: Layering with Light

The essential feature of good lighting, in the home and out, is to make sure the user’s demands and expectations are met. Additionally, a lighting scheme should enhance our love of life through aesthetic beauty. Bedrooms are no exception, whether at home or in a hotel they are spaces that demand versatility to meet the expectations of a demanding user.

Often, form does follow function and this is a good place to begin when planning to light a bedroom. Essentially, key demands on the space will dictate our layers of light.

The layering of light ensures that the three-dimensional space of a room has light emitted from more than one actual level, enhancing interest to the eye. In the absence of good layering, the lighting scheme can flatten the space; we need to find a good contrast of light and shadow and throw light in different directions. Also, good layering of light in bedrooms will ensure the eye is not subjected to glare. Avoid downlights directly over the pillows, cover lamps in shades (even from below) to cater for someone lying in bed looking up into the fitting.

Bedroom Lighting Tips:image 1

Think function

  • A good level of illumination for general use, cleaning, making the bed, dressing etc
  • Downlights – do not position over the pillows and try to wash walls and fabrics with them and use them to create indirect light.
  • Table and floor lights with shades that will produce warm colours of white if possible.
  • Decorative pendants and wall lights – avoiding exposed lamps.
  • Light the interiors of wardrobes and cupboards especially if they have a dark finish that soaks up light.

Think low

  • A lower level of lighting for relaxing, watching tv with your feet up, reading a book etc
  • LED reading lights at the bedside
  • Table lights

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Be adaptable

  • Dimmable circuits – make sure any downlights that contribute to this mood level of light are switched separately to the overhead downlights that infill light into the space.
  • Up-light from a high-level piece of furniture to produce reflected light.
  • A very low level of light to assist bathroom trips in the middle of the night without waking yourself or your partner up with a marker light on a movement sensor.
  • Dimmable individual light fixtures.

The personal touch

  • Create something personal. The bedroom is arguably the most private room we have and is, therefore, a space that demands a personal touch.
  • Ceiling height allowing – maximise the space with a stunning pendant
  • Oversize free-standing light fixtures where you can – lighting looks better when bigger.

Dressing rooms

  • A more functional extension of the bedroom, light the user from 2 directions to minimise shadowing.
  • Use wide beamed ceiling lights.
  • Wall lights to throw light into the space horizontally.
  • Wash a wall or wardrobe to bounce light into the space.
  • Light around a mirror so the viewer is lit evenly.

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The luxury of not having to reach for the light switch or get out of bed to control the lights has been on the scene for some time now, as lighting controls become connected to the internet and home wifi hub – allowing your tablet or phone to become the controller. There are clever cheaper ways to also do this with IP addressable lamps that allow you to change the colour temperature of white from a warm white in the evening to a colder white for the day, they can even change the colour of light to suit your duvet! However, we find clients that can afford such systems generally try it once and when they get the opportunity to do it again, they opt back for the simplicity of a switch or dimmer knob!

Orange Lighting has designed lighting for all sorts of bedrooms, from hotels, grand residential master bedrooms through to care home bedrooms. The methodology is always the same – protect the eye from glare and give it something interesting to look at. Cater for multi-use and have some fun. As lighting designers, we mix the technical with the aesthetics, enhancing an interior scheme to maximise it’s potential. The world of LED lighting has come a long way but it’s application still needs careful thought.

If you have a bedroom project – call us to review your lighting options.

Layering with Light

Lighting a room is essentially a three-dimensional exercise. Objects and features are enhanced by emphasising their shape using lights and darks. Layering with light is a technique that focusses on an interior as a whole. It can add height or width to a room as well as highlighting the existing features that provide personality. After all, our eyes adore multiple details. It is also a practice that consolidates all the elements of a room design and coordinates the look of the space with all its furnishings. I thought we would construct a brief walkthrough to re-acquaint you with the principles or layering in words and pictures.

We refer to three layers: High Middle and Low

High or ceiling height light. Middle or human eye level whether people are walking or seated. Lastly low or floor level illumination. Essentially, we need to explore the ideal physical positioning of fixtures to create the best effect. Additionally we need to consider the variety of texture of light used; playing light using differing beam widths for highlights and using diffusers for washes. Naturally, with the advent of LED, conventional thinking has been overturned, as the benefits of miniaturisation and longevity (no need to change blown lamps) becomes apparent. The flexibility in painting a room with light has never been so practical.


A couple of guiding principles that will help in installing this all essential enhancement to a room design. Remember, it is not the light fixture itself that fixes the position of the layer but the reflected light from the light source. We can utilise the fixture itself, but it does need to generate a sufficient quantity of light to be effective as a layer. One single light source from a fixture can contribute to multiple of layers at the same time.

Here is an example from a very recent residential project, both designed and supplied by me and the team at Orange Lighting. The high ceiling space features a wonderful oak frame which needs to be celebrated. The intention is to emphasise the strong architecture of the beams as a priority with the light playing a supporting role – to enhance through layering.


Key Layers

High layer – up-lights positioned on the wooden beam provide a wonderfully concealed light on the ceiling. Effectively the light also bounces from the ceiling and top lights the oak trusses.

The high layer also receives partial light from the floor up lighters and the table lamps.

Middle Layer – the hanging pendants, table lamps and wall lights are the main drivers for the middle layer. However, it is important not to exclude the many lit surfaces such as cupboard doors and work surfaces that reflect light at this layer. Note the light washing the dresser from adjustable spotlights and the glass pendants.

Low Layer – the primary low layer lighting is from the ceiling downlights washing the floor with light as well as table top and island counter. To an extent the pendants also deliver low light onto the preparation surface as does the table lamp. We could have also added some plinth lights at this layer although these were considered inappropriate for this scheme.

Multi-Layer – the floor uplights provide a multi-level illumination especially on the underneath surfaces of the trusses with a dramatic three-dimensional effect.


The array of differing LED lights available for each layered lighting task can be bewildering. Our role is to help you find the most suitable among the uplights, downlights, tape, spots and lamps that are on offer, in order to enhance the look of your scheme. Colour temperature, lumen levels, beam angles and diffusion adds a layer of complexity too. Enquire about our cost effective lighting scheme design service or ask us to specify the correct fixture or fitting for the job.

To see all the pictures of the project in glorious high resolution – click here

Is Lighting the Most Important Building Material?

It’s not strange that we take the warmest and also the lightest part of the year for our annual break. I certainly recharged my creative battery recently on a trip to Spain with my family; most notably the Gaudi Cathedral in Barcelona was a wonder to behold. I would encourage you this summer – to look at light again. In our busy jobs, so much of our design roles are actually administration and meetings; it’s important to recharge with inspiration. After all, it’s not just about hitting deadlines, we have to reach high levels of achievement in delivering the spirit of a space!

Remember, when specifying and designing where the lighting will be on your next project, keep to thinking where the ‘light’ will be and not necessarily just where the fittings are placed.

Most of us involved with building in 3D – love lighting. Why? – maybe modern architect Daniel Libeskind is right when he likens light to the ‘spirit of a building’, an invisible but guiding element around an interior.

image 1

Gaudi concentrated on the use of natural light. Mainly due the fact that artificial light wasn’t sophisticated in his era. Fortunately, modern architects embrace both artificial and natural – Libeskind believes it’s extremely important to embrace both equally but treat them differently. Of course artificial light can never compete with natural light; there is such a fundamental difference – it’s like comparing an idol with a god.
Libeskind thankfully agrees that form is created by lights and darks – therefore planning both where the light should be – AND – left out. “Consciousness of light, of course, is also consciousness of shadow.”

The Bible (not often quoted in a design context) says that light came out of darkness. You cannot neglect darkness, the darkness is part of the light and if you neglect the shadow you’ve neglected light itself. So I urge you to reflect on this visual thought in the long days of summer wherever you may be taking a well earned break.

Questions to Ponder

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What quality of light do we want to create?

Roof top image of Gaudi’s Casa Battlo (above first pic left) – demonstrates the importance of light and dark. The image is split in two – the foreground in shadow is as important as the glorious roof lit in full sunlight – essentially it provides the contrast. Ultimately we are looking to keep this magic within our interior.

How best do we manipulate this invisible artificial medium?
Use three dimensions objects to control the light as the sun moves throughout the day. Funnel daylight, restrict and reveal. These are surely more architectural decisions than that of a lighting designer? I would argue that it is the preserve of designers to concentrate on light. Although this is mostly artificial – we should not ignore how light will affect a space in the day and see whether artificial light is required to support and create the same effect in the winter when the sun is not as strong.

Daylight is dynamic and changes throughout the day, in contrast artificial light is static. Animage 3 interesting technique is to mimic the behaviour of daylight in our artificial lighting scheme; create brighter sides of a room by dimming the other half as if the daylight is penetrating the space from one side.

Daylight covers a wide selection of frequencies or colours – which the eye enjoys. Try changing colour temperatures of white in your interior space.

Daylight plays a large contributing factor to our wellbeing – we can do well to try and imitate it’s qualities as best we can. Low amounts of daylight contribute (second only to bad air quality) – towards sick building syndrome.

Best Practice

Remember to use fixtures that are going to deliver. I am still surprised by the excellent performance of some lower cost budget lighting and lamps – and equally how poorly some higher end fittings can behave. Vigilance is required.

Take the headache out of lighting schemes by using our in-house – highly cost effective lighting design services and take a look (here) for a taster of the range of fixtures and fittings you can rely upon!

A Lighting Scheme Exposed

The ‘nuts and bolts’ look of a high-tech age emerged in the 1970s. Epitomised by the Pompidou Centre in Paris and later the Lloyds Building in London both by Richard Rogers, they broke the mould with their rebellious exposed construction. A technological look that had pipes and conduits visible to all both external and internally within the building. It was a product of the first wave of technology – Moon shots and IBM mainframes were in the collective psyche. Could it be that with the recent trend in industrial style bars and retail stores – we might be experiencing a return of functional architecture?

To my mind there seems to be two types of lighting scheme currently. The swish seamless and clean lines of light where hidden sources give the light itself all the glory. Here we are into subtle washes of light and hidden LED fittings within the fabric of the interior. Contrast this with the hard industrial look which is in current vogue. Visible services, conduits and ducting laid bare and looping pendants finished off with hard industrial maritime bulk heads and squirrel cages.


Often these industrial interiors work out of necessity. Many walls and ceilings are unyielding to concealed wiring – so why not make a feature of the pipes and cables and bypass the complications – just fix a light in the correct position AND get power to it – simple!
It’s a gift for exposing the ugly layers of the building too. Remove aging suspended ceiling grids and you find a network of ventilation ducts and lighting wiring above. Perfect structures to pronounce an industrial theme.

Lighting Applications – exposed services:

Galvanised Conduit with besa boxes to mount the light fitting or rose. A necessity for interiors with stone or exposed brickwork that do not allow for chased cabling. Basements, vaulted spaces and ex-industrial spaces allow you to celebrate a functional aesthetic. The besa box is the round box that punctuates the conduit to allow access to the power within – an excellent place to mount fittings.


Galvanised cable trays are a necessary feature of most commercial spaces to carry power through the interior to feed sensors, alarms, power to equipment and of course lighting. Where a space is high and with the dropped ceiling removed, the tray itself is our opportunity to mount our lighting. Downlights can be recessed into cable tray – pendants dropped below – it’s like a snaking track ready to be used.
The trend for industrial is so popular you don’t need the challenge of an industrial space to3 create the theme.  A system of lighting that’s caught our eye for a recent project is this (see picture right). This fixture can grow vertically and horizontally as much as you wish with your own choices of ceiling or wall lights, a formalised system crystalizing the current trend to reveal what is so often hidden.

So if you are contemplating an industrial look for a forthcoming interior project – we are here to guide you through the range of available light fixtures and to help you with the design of the scheme.

Having a Downer on Downlights?

It would be impossible to imagine a world without downlights after all you find them almost everywhere but let us take a moment to ask ourselves why? Is this long lived love affair justified or is it ripe for review? Certainly if we revisit our principles of good practice – there are many limitations to these simple luminaires, so perhaps we should consider whether we have become lazy in our over use of the all too popular light source?

The 1980’s saw the boom of the low voltage downlight. A fabulous tool to choose exactly where you wanted the light to fall and it remains extremely useful up to the present day. The ubiquitous downlight allowed almost anyone to ‘design’ their own lighting scheme and (as a consequence) in came the grid and row upon row of downlights.

However good practice teaches us that the key to designing a lighting scheme is tImage 1encompass the architecture, the interior and the people within it and not just in the space. After all, the form of the architecture and the interior itself – often dictates where to position the fixtures and how best to present places and structures in light. The best schemes are formed ‘naturally’.

Throughout the design process glare is our enemy and the downlight is a major culprit – generating intense light from a small aperture.  Maybe we should spare a creative thought for a diffused light that is easy on the eye as a ready alternative?

Downlights can be a safety net – creating ample coverage in a dependable and familiar way that is not challenging as a method of delivering light. Additionally as design professionals there is often a realistic need to choose a simple design route that a budget dictates rather than proposing a riskier and time consuming lighting solution.

Why we like downlights:

Downlights provide a clearly defined pools of light that introduce ‘lights and darks’ compared to a single source diffused light.

Downlights are flexible and they generate light exactly where you want it.
They offer a concealed light source as a recessed fitting – hidden in the ceiling.
Ultimately a cost effective solution.

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Push the envelope! Let’s have a look at the alternative to downlights…

Downlight: Wide beam downlight to create general ambient light.
Alternative: Use large or multiple opal glass ceiling lights or pendants to create a wide diffused light.

Downlight: Tighter beamed downlights to focus and create pools of light, over tables for instance.
Alternative: Drop pendants over areas and back up with reflected light off the ceiling or if possible adjacent wall.

Downlight: wall washing downlights.
Alternative: Use a hidden linear LED to wash light down a wall.

Remember this e-shot when you next mark up a plan for the lighting and think twice before pockmarking the ceiling with downlights!

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.

Shining a Light on Jargon

Similar to many technologies – lighting seems all too willing to confuse its users with jargon. Specifications on LED packaging can be baffling, so in my constant quest to demystify the world of lighting for designers and specifiers – I have started on a journey to convert technical terms to plain English. Here are some of the most common.

Candelas. The measurement of illuminous intensity – how much light is making it to a given direction, the intensity of the source measured at 1 square metre which is 1m away from the source.

Compact fluorescent lamps. Fluoro lamps that are shaped to minimise their size i.e. twisted or turned tubes.

Colour TemperatureColour temperature describes the warmth of a light source. It’s CCT – correlating colour temperature – will be higher the colder the light and lower the warmer the light. e.g., 2700K = extra warm and 4000K is cool.

Constant current driver
Constant current drivers are power supplies required for some LED luminaires. They maintain a constant current to the LED, whereas a transformer with low voltage lighting maintains a constant voltage. Drivers can be integral within a fixture or remote.

You’ll increasingly find this term creeping onto LED packaging – a rating between 1 and 100 (RA) with the highest closest to true colour as seen by the sun.

Digital Addressable Lighting Interface – a protocol for lighting controls and dimming agreed by a group of major manufacturers.

The unit of luminous flux or how much light is delivered from a light source.

Lumens per circuit watt
Luminous efficiency has the measurement of Lumens c/w. How much power is required to deliver the given amount of light from a luminaire. This is an important figure to be aware of when dealing with building regs.

The measurement of illuminance – or how many lumens are falling onto a unit area. In other words how much light is arriving at a defined distance from the source.

Wiring in Parallel
Where each fixture on the circuit has it’s own direct path back to the positive and negative sides of the circuit.

Wiring in Series
Where an LED fixture receives current from the power supply and daisy chains to each fitting that is sharing the power and then loops back the negative to the driver. Important to remember when installing LED fixtures with remote drivers as the return cable must be accommodated.

If you need help on any aspect of lighting for a project – call the Orange Lighting team and will be happy to offer advice in plain English…

A Flicker of Hope

flicker-image5The words lighting flicker alone bring on a headache. Of course we all have visions of a dodgy fluorescent lamp in a ceiling dying a slow death of low frequency cycling. However it is avoidable – it is not inherent in all artificial lighting – and with a little knowledge you can manage the problem.

5 things you need to know about lighting flicker

1. All lighting flickers.
You do not need to be an electrician to get this bit – an AC power supply that we all use modulates usually to a frequency of 50 or 60 hz or double mains frequency. This causes the source of the light to turn on and turn off at this rate – fast enough to appear visually smooth.

2. Discernable flicker can be detrimental to health

According to studies a low proportion of humans are susceptible to flashing lights which can trigger ailments and seizures but lesser known is that long term exposure to unintentional flickering of 70 to 160 hz can cause visual impairment and migraines. Research has shown the retina in the eye can pick up frequencies of 100 to 150hz unbeknown to us, potentially a contributing factor to ‘sick building syndrome’ – offices that for a number of factors see a high propensity of illness.

3. Is LED more prone to flicker than other traditional sources?
An important question with a complicated answer, as LED lighting can be powered in various ways – e.g. with constant current and constant voltage drivers, and without drivers with direct AC power. BUT what we want to know is if it’s safe to use? The fact that solid state LEDs are a fast cycle technology and effective at being completely on and then completely off – so this will increase the sense of flicker unless handled. Traditional sources such as tungsten even when on the OFF cycle still emit some light, creating a smoother light. This is where a good LED driver has a job to do to minimise this effect.

4. Does dimming increase the sensation of obstructive flicker?

It depends on how the dimming is done but yes it can.
a) Dimming a light can be done by reducing the amount of power it receives.
This is done by chopping off some of the AC cycle of power – creating a wider gap between ON and OFF which can begin to be seen by the eye unless dealt with by the correct type of dimmer module. So without good compatibility between dimmer and light – flicker will occur.
b) Dimming an LED can be done by Pulse Width Modulation – like a TV screen that flashes many frames per second giving the eye a smooth transitional between each frame, i.e. it’s too fast to discern. By turning the power on and off fast enough, less power is used so the light is dimmed – but if not fast enough strobing will be apparent.

5. There is no national standard defining what rate of flicker is unacceptable.
In the absence of a universally definable level of noticeable flicker, it does feel we are exposed to making mistakes when specifying. At Orange lighting our approach is to buy and deliver the best quality LED driver whenever we can – on all projects, sourcing from manufacturers who have given this issue consideration.

As lighting suppliers and consultants we are aware that flicker exists in all lighting, particularly when dimming. However, good compatibility between dimmer, driver and LED – through testing – will keep this issue under control.
Call us to discuss this issue and we will guide you through the measures that will avoid flicker in your next project.