The Light Guide

Unveiling the hidden value of lighting design though life-centric approaches

phulu bay lighting design by djcoalition

Scientific research has unveiled the vast potential of lighting design to go beyond mere illumination. Through life-centric design approaches, we can harness lighting’s ability to enhance visual comfort, influence mood and well-being, and foster a deep connection with our surroundings. As expert designers, we invite you to embrace the transformative power of lighting design and unlock its hidden value within our built environment. By integrating thoughtful lighting strategies, we can create spaces that truly enrich the lives of their occupants and elevate the overall design experience.
Download “The Light Guide” pdf here.

person sleeping

Sleep Well
Good lighting design will improve your sleep

White coloured light has a range in tones from bright daylight tones (cool white light with more blue light component) to warm, candle tones (warm white light with more red light component). This range in colour triggers different physiological effects in us.

Circadian rhythm lighting employs different colour temperatures together with different intensities of light to trigger different physiological effects in the correct sequence. Cool light gives us energy and helps us to concentrate while warm light relaxes us and prepares us for rest. Neither are bad and, in your home, you can balance both to your benefit.

Application Design Tips:

  • Use warm white lighting in your home in the evening when you relax and prepare for sleep
  • Use cool white light for doing task work. The cooler light can be a higher intensity by concentrating it over work surfaces
  • Limit the use of cool light after dark as exposure to blue light in evening will reduce the quality of your sleep and therefore health
  • Ensure night lighting is concealed or indirect, low level lighting (below the eye) works best.

Look Good
Good lighting design will improve how you look

There are several factors to consider when lighting people, which can impact the appearance of their skin tones and facial features. These include:

  • Brightness: Adequate brightness is important to illuminate faces evenly and avoid shadows. Light mirrors in bathrooms to 800lux for a healthier and happier look.
  • Colour temperature: Using light with a colour temperature that matches skins tones and does not give a yellow or blue cast to faces.
  • Colour rendering index (CRI): A high CRI ensures that skins tones appear natural and lifelike. Use a CRI of 90 or more.
  • Direction of light: Proper positioning of lights to avoid backlighting or lens flare, and to create shadows that define and shape faces. For example, place lights 250mm away from a mirror so the light comes from the front and not from the back.
  • Softness of light: Use soft, diffused indirect light to avoid harsh shadows and create a natural, flattering look. See tips for bounced light below.
  • Consistency: Maintain consistent lighting throughout the scene to avoid colour inconsistencies and make people look their best.

Application Design Tips:

  • Aim lights upwards toward the ceiling, or install wall sconces to bounce light off the ceiling and walls. Make sure the light bulb is hidden inside the fitting as this can create glare.
  • Conceal light in coves or inside shelving units to give a soft glow of light.
  • If you are stuck with downlights, try to aim them to the walls to bounce the light back into the room.

Mirror Lighting
Proper lighting in front of a mirror provides a clear reflection and minimizes shadows, making it easier to see oneself and carry out tasks like grooming and putting on makeup.

  • Position lights on either of the mirror to reduce shadows and evenly distribute light.
  • Use bright, even lighting to clearly reflect the face and minimize shadows.
  • Use wall mounted sconces or striplights to minimize shadows and create a shadow-free reflection.
  • Consider adding task lighting above the mirror for tasks such as grooming or putting on makeup.
  • Consider adding a fixture under a vanity as night lighting which reduces shadowing from overhead lighting.

Save Money
Good lighting design reduces your energy bill

Artificial lighting can account for up to 15% of a building’s annual electricity use. Simple measures can be built into a light design to significantly reduce this power consumption.
Daylight is a free lighting resource. Good design can incorporate daylighting strategies that minimises reliance on artificial lighting during the day, reducing energy consumption and fostering a sustainable lighting design.
LED lighting technology is advancing swiftly, gaining increased efficiency every year. This progress ensures brighter illumination, longer lifespan, energy savings, and greater environmental sustainability. LED lighting offers higher efficacy, using less power to produce the same light levels, leading to energy efficiency and cost savings.

Turning off lights saves power consumption. Obvious? Yes, however often the switching of lights does not allow us to light only the areas we need. Lighting control, switching and dimming technology are becoming more affordable with advances in technology. With smart lighting control lights can be turned on only where you need them.

Application Design Tips:

  • Replace old technology halogen lighting with LED lighting which will yield approximately 60% energy reduction.
  • Review lighting controls so spaces and rooms are individually controlled to suit uses rather than linking many areas together.
  • Install sensors to automatically dim and turn off lights dependent upon the amount of daylight and upon occupancy in a space.
  • Always use LED light sources due to their efficiency and longevity. LED lighting offers the potential for maintenance free lighting when it is installed correctly.

Incorporate daylighting strategies that maximize the use of natural light through well-designed windows, skylights, and light shelves. Utilize window blinds or shades to regulate incoming light and reduce glare.

See More Clearly
Good lighting design will help you see more clearly

As we age, our eyes undergo changes that can affect our vision and the way we perceive light. These changes can impact the way we design lighting for different age groups. A few ways age can affect vision include:

  • Decreased visual acuity: As we age, our eyes can lose some of their sharpness, making it more difficult to see fine details, especially in low-light conditions.
  • Reduced colour perception: The ability to perceive colours can decline with age, which can make it harder to distinguish between colours and see subtle changes in hue.
  • Increased sensitivity to glare: Older eyes are more susceptible to glare, which can cause discomfort and visual distractions, especially when performing tasks such as reading or driving.
  • Decreased pupil size: As we age, our pupils tend to shrink, reducing the amount of light that enters the eye and making it more difficult to see in low light conditions.

These age-related changes can impact the way we design lighting, by requiring higher levels of brightness, reducing glare, and providing colour-correct lighting. Designing lighting systems with these consideration in mind can help improve visual comfort and performance for people of all ages.

For each room consider the balance of lighting in layers of direct (task) and indirect (ambient) light.

Direct lighting is to be provided to places of work and activity only, for example reading, cooking and eating. The use of direct light to accentuate art features in the house can also give spaces a visual focal point.

Indirect lighting will be used as ambient lighting and background lighting to provide sufficient light for visibility as well as balancing contrast ratios to the optimal level. Indirect lighting is a key component of comfort lighting.

Design Tips:

  • Direct lighting, use lamps with shades/concealed LED sources for glare control.
  • Indirect lighting should be concealed to place the emphasis on the illumination of space rather than on the design of the light fitting.
  • Ensure you have a layer of indirect lighting in all spaces.

Work Productively
Good lighting design can help improve your work productivity

Did you know? Short durations of higher intensity cooler coloured light will help boost concentration and accuracy? Conversely, warmer tones of light helps us relax at the end of our working day. So, to combat the post-lunch ‘food coma’ work under natural daylight or cool white light.

Generally, our homes have lower levels of light intensity than the office. Insufficient brightness will result in less accuracy when completing tasks and tired eyes. An easy way to boost lighting – not requiring a rewiring of the house! – is to purchase a task lamp for your work surface.

If you can, always choose a place to work that is lit with daylight. The changes in colour and intensity of natural daylight help to support our biorhythms and boost wellness. But be careful about glare as daylight in the middle of the day can be strong and direct sunlight on the work surface makes it difficult for our eye to focus.

Application Design Tips:

  • Install a cool coloured light source (cool white) in your task lamp. When you need to focus on quick detailed tasks, use the task light to boost the light conditions.
  • Look for a lamp with a solid shade that directs light down onto the work surface. Something that is easily portable will allow you to use it in other parts of the house in the evening.
  • Locate screens perpendicular to the window to avoid direct daylight falling on the screen or being silhouetted against the bright light source, making it difficult for your eyes to adjust.

Live Sustainably #1
Good lighting design reduces waste

Sustainability is maintaining our natural resources and environment to maintain ecological balance. There are two key aspects of sustainable design that we develop in our work to reduce waste: place light where it is needed and design for a long life.
Sustainable lighting design starts with defining the correct light levels for tasks, not over-lighting and not evenly illuminating all areas to the highest requirement.
Different tasks require different light levels based on the level of detail involved. Rather than waste energy to light the whole space to suit the most detailed task – which may only be undertaken periodically – use task lighting to provide specific highlighting of tasks as required. A good example of task lighting is the desk lamp and built-in lighting over work counters.
In a constantly accelerating world, it becomes increasingly difficult to build for the long run. However, as designers, we know we are on the right track if our design has the potential to last for a long time as it offers lasting amenity to our clients and users.

Application Design Tips:

  • Always use LED light sources due to their efficiency and longevity. LED lighting offers the potential for maintenance free lighting when it is installed correctly.
  • Build future proofing into each design so that the building can adapt with major renovations or changes.
  • Understand the local supply options, identify design options that utilize technology brands that are locally supported
  • Install lighting in accessible locations with simple access equipment.
  • Do not over light. Consider lighting task lighting rather than room lighting so not everything is illuminated to the highest requirement.

Live Sustainably #2
Good lighting design connects us to nature

Lighting that promotes an indoor-outdoor connection expands the boundaries of a room and allows an enjoyment of nature.

But the enjoyment comes with a responsibility of care. The night-time environment is a precious natural resources for all life on Earth. All life – plants, animals and us – depend upon the daily cycle of light and dark to govern life sustaining behavior such as reproduction, nourishment and rest. When we light up the night, we disrupt this cycle. So, the first question when considering outdoor light is whether it is really needed. If so, then consider how little the exposure of light could be.

The human eye adapts to the brightest light in view. As our eyes adapt to bright lights, our ability to see in darker areas is lost. Glare from bright lights plunge the surrounding areas into dark shadows. Glare not only masks our view it also is an indication that light is being ‘spilled’ wastefully into the environment.

Application Design Tips for how we control light at night:

  • Mount lights at a low height, preferably below eye height. In this way, we light what we need to but retain the ability to see the nighttime natural environment.
  • Mask lights to shine downwards only to illuminate the task and not allowing any waste light to shine upwards to create sky glow that masks the view of the stars.
  • When there is a view, place lights behind the viewer so the natural environment is not masked.

Design Tips for protecting nighttime eco-systems are:

  • Light in a low-impact way – using luminescence as markers? Or perhaps portable lighting?
  • Light to very low light levels – it is possible to read a book in moonlight with less than 2 lux.
  • Light temporarily, have lights on timers and dimmers so that they activate only once occupancy is detected.

Set the Scene
Good lighting design allows us to set moods

Good lighting is made great by enhancing it with lighting control. Switching and dimming allows you to alter the ambience of a space to suit your mood and activities. It also allows change of colour and intensity to support your natural circadian rhythm.

Automated lighting control saves energy use and therefore reduces running costs. Lights can be turned on/off and dimmed to suit time of day and the availability of natural daylight. Selected lighting can be activated so lighting suits the task and spaces are not over lit.

Simple systems are always the best and should be tailored to how you use the home. UX for lighting control can include:

Touch pad wall switches for basic controls and activation of pre-set lighting scenes. Active buttons highlighted with an indicator light. Switches engraved with names or symbols for identifications.

A wall mounted screen or hand-held screen can be used for more detailed control of lighting. A screen allows localized and global dimming or scene changing for special events

Application Design Tips:

  • Separate your lights into groups and place each group on a different switch so you can vary the effect. For example, control downlights separate from concealed lighting separate from decorative lighting.
  • Dimming is a good idea but keep the dimming simple and easy to use.
  • Place decorative lamps on their own switches in living areas. The house lighting can be turned down, or off, and the lamps turned on to create another softer more relaxing mood.

Feel Safe
Good lighting design sanitises

So, does LED light killed mould?
Yes, LED light can kill mould. LED lights with a colour temperature around 5000K and above emit a high amount of light in the blue spectrum which is great for inhibiting mould growth. Unlike UV-C sanitising light which can only be used when humans are not present, this wavelength of light is visible and not harmful to humans under normal conditions.


  • Install a cold white LED striplight in your shoe cupboard and put on timers to wash your shoes in violet light each day
  • Install a secondary cold white LED flood light in your bathroom to run each day for a few hours
  • Install a cold white LED striplight under your overhead cabinets to wash the food preparation counters in your kitchen

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