Bethune Living Room

There is a widespread misconception about lighting fixtures, as most people perceive the fixture itself to be the "Light". While it is true that lighting fixtures produce light, what many fixtures on the market today actually produce is glare. The point of this discussion is philosophical in nature but has major implications on your well-being.

To set a basis for the discussion we need to distinguish between "a light" and Light. While regular light can come from any source in nature, artificially from light bulbs or any other technology, we will relate to Light as the actual application of the light source into a space.


Your ability to apply light into a space which complements both the space and your objectives for it while simultaneously feeling better due to the lighting, is an artform we in the industry call Lighting Design. Working with Light is no different than an artist painting on a canvas. Light talks to the soul, in that simply walking into a well-illuminated space improves your mood. Light and our feelings go hand in hand. This is illustrated most obviously in the motion picture industry where lighting has a great effect on each scene and plays a major role in creating the atmosphere. The same applies to your living environment. In your living room, kitchen, family or bedroom, light plays a major role in how you feel and how comfortable you are. Light and form touch each other. But since you can not "see" light until it touches an object form, look for the way it is applied onto the space. Notice how it illuminates and reflects off walls, counters, tables, arm chairs, floors etc. In this way you may plan for how Light would affect your space.

Bethune Living Room 2

For example; Assume that you have a large living room with a nice sitting area in the middle. The floor is dark cherry wood and on the latte' painted walls hangs an expensive and coveted collection of artwork. In one of the corners stands a mass cane floor plant in its planter. Now, imagine a large chandelier hanging from the ceiling directly in the center of the room above the sitting area. The chandelier holds six 60W bulbs that are exposed. There is no other source of lighting in the room, but the chandelier uses a dimmer. In this case, the natural tendency is to achieve a balanced illumination in the room by turning the dimmer all the way up hopping for the light to spread and affect the far sides of the room, artwork and other objects that are currently cast in shadow. The result is simply a large amount of glare from the centrally located chandelier, and unbalanced lighting in the room. The physiological and psychological effects of such out-of-balanced and off-putting lighting can actually drive you to no longer use a beautiful space you once loved. 


How can we approach the above scenario differently? If you were to "layer" the light by providing a few different sources in the space, you could separately and appropriately illuminate each piece of art, the plant in the corner, and other objects in the room as needed. Now when you turn the lights on, you can balance the light sources by controlling them with dimmers. The chandelier becomes a decorative object and not the main light source. The art lighting creates an interesting and attractive display that envelopes the room, while also providing warm reflected Light to the space. The plant light helps bring interest and freshness with accent lighting that fills the room with a glow while also adding texture. In this example, it is possible to raise or lower the lights in groups as needed and once enjoy your newly lighted room with great pleasure. Light has major effects on how you feel both physiologically and psychologically. The correct application of lighting results in happier and more satisfied people, better home or work environments, and happier customers for retail hospitality and service businesses.

Enjoy the Light. - Arie Louie

Find out more about: Arie Louie