How to Design a Lighting Scheme Without a Flat Ceiling

You know us creatives secretly want to give our imagination a free hand and interior design is no exception. Hospitality is one sector where in the effort to differentiate from other offerings – can push projects to the extremes. In the case of the Duck and Waffle, all you can say is – wow! The concept 24/7 restaurant invites diners to experience a playful take on traditional British cuisine with broad European influences while overlooking stunning views of London. The space is a profusion of shapes, patterns and colours – a feast for the eye as well as the digestion. So when it comes to designing a lighting scheme, it’s tricky enough to visualise the space for any project simply from 2D drawings – but what about this crazy ceiling!? How do you tackle a lighting design when there is hardly a flat surface in the scheme!? This space is busy but there are some calming and beautiful parts to this interior too.

The project was conceived and delivered by 01 Creative and photographed by Chris Orange Photography, in pictures that capture a scheme that is a triumph of precision through designed chaos.

So how would you set about designing it?

1. Planning the lighting design remains the same – all the key areas need lighting – countertops, back walls to widen the space and to draw the eye through, table tops etc. Thankfully drop pendants are still en-vogue so they can surreptitiously suspend light sources through all kinds of shapes and tangles.

2. Notice the curved corrugated iron sheets in the ceiling? To my mind – a brilliantly clever choice:

• lowers the ceiling to create a more intimate space and shields the eye from a profusion of exposed services.

• Creates repetition which every lighting scheme loves as we can bring in a flow of lights and darks – each panel lighting the top of the one behind with a very warm white.

• Light is being used to accentuate the corrugation too – so there is a greater detail shown in the contrast.

• A vernacular design choice for the theme of the space.

3. This type of ceiling, in reality, is great as you can hide cables and have the opportunity to commission the space with care whilst retaining flexibility in positioning – as long as that is an original intention of the design. Circuits still need to be specified and taken into the spaces they serve, terminating them in readiness for the fittings to plug and play after – spotlights on leads with a plug into a lighting module for instance. Black track lighting is a winner in this type of space.

4. Glass and bottle racks reliably hide light fittings in perfect places and within the narrow lines of a dropped ceiling they are still required to give the traditional downlight a home – in this instance over the bar stool area along the window.

5. Typical for a bar design there is a trend for very rich whites – lower than 2700K – achieved by dimming decorative tungsten halogen or choosing LED decorative pendants that are available from 1800K to 2700K.

6. As you enter the space the flooring contrast between the polished concrete and pathway of stone tiles invites the user deeper into the space – the light plays a role with the parallel lines of the bar and plinth lit with LED strip showing the way and with the back cupboards of food all lit.

7. Remember the silhouette technique in backlighting objects – the well lit wall (from track lighting) behind the unlit display of farming/garden tools – creates a greater impact – we are more interested in the outline and shape of the tools than we actually are on the tools themselves – it’s drama/theatre that works so well.

So the message is, be brave! Take each element and play with the lighting until you find a point of harmony – but don’t forget the functional aspects too. The trick (as always) is to plan flexibility into the scheme to give you best opportunity to achieve the best result. Of course, with any project that looks daunting – call us we will be happy to help with the planning.

Andrew Orange, the owner of Orange Lighting qualified and worked as an interior designer in 1993 before specialising in lighting working on high profile projects based in London. Since starting Orange Lighting Ltd in 2003 he has been sharing his knowledge and unique teaching style mostly to his designer clients, offering practical real life advice born from running a busy consultancy and lighting supply business. Launching in 2020, his blog has evolved into Quick & Easy Lighting, curating some 25 years design experience into making the lighting choice and design process achievable and easy to understand for all.