Hotel Lighting Design - More Than Meets the Eye
By Ray Chung Director of Design, The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry | April 29, 2018
Co-authored by Anita Summers, Associate Principal, The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry
When lighting is done right, it is the last thing you notice. When done wrong, it is the first thing everybody complains about! Good lighting design supports the concept of the hotel, from the front door, through the public spaces and into the guestrooms. Whether it is soft, dramatic or high-tech, lighting should be used to enhance the architecture and interiors, to create a singular feeling that fits your hotel's identity.
Lighting design is not just expensive decorative fixtures-it is about putting light in the right place, to highlight a beautiful texture, for example, or to call attention to a design feature. Now, new technologies provide greater control over light levels and colors, allowing us to create warmth and comfort while maintaining efficiency and sustainability. This is especially valuable in hotels, where flexible spaces overlap and have to accommodate guests' changing needs across the day. In the end, good lighting design helps create a safe, comfortable environment that invites guests to stay longer simply because it feels good.
Changes in LED Technology
One of the most exciting technologies at the moment is in the field of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Known for their efficiency and longevity, LEDs play a major role in lighting design. Most hotels, in fact, require that they be used over incandescent and fluorescent lighting due to their exceptional value. For the same amount of light (or brightness) an LED lamp can use as little as 1/10th the amount of energy as an incandescent and last 50 times as long before burning out. Even compared to compact fluorescents (CFLs), LEDs use half as much energy and last 3 to 7 times as long. Multiply this savings over every light fixture in a property, and it is clear why they are not just preferred but mandatory.
However, until recently, LED bulbs offered only a cool, bluish light that flickered when dimmed. These drawbacks, of course, posed a challenge when trying to implement a lighting design that seamlessly transitioned from day to night, as we are wired to prefer lighting that mimics the sun. In the mornings, when the sun is high in the sky, we seek bright and cool (less yellow) light; as the sun sets, we naturally want to see a dimmer, warmer light (more yellow and orange). For over 100 years, incandescent bulbs replicated this effect, naturally becoming warmer as they dimmed. But LEDs, even without the flickering problem, do not change color as they dim, resulting in a cold light that can make the world look gray and two-dimensional.