LightShow West is our local trade show for architectural lighting and this year I was finally able to attend. Yesterday I sat in on Deborah Burnett's 2-hour lecture on evidence based lighting design. She is such a dynamic woman, and her message so clear. She said something that stuck with me, "first, do no harm." As I'm sifting through my notes I am reminded that my profession is truly a specialty and how we lighting designers have a major responsibility not just to design exceptional lighting but to educate people on LED technology. It is of the utmost importance that we are using LEDs appropriately in our designs as the misuse of them can not only be atrocious but, with all jokes aside, can lead to major long-term health concerns. A lot of scientific and medical research supporting that claim is on the rise and I feel grateful to the people in my industry who are taking a stand to make sure that this information becomes common knowledge.
You may be wondering why on Earth you need a lighting designer when you already have an architect and/or interior designer on your job... I mean can't the electrician help? The answer to that is NO! Your electrician is an installer-- we love our electricians and our electricians love plans to follow. Most architects and interior designers don't take a big interest in lighting, they appreciate how important it is but let's face it, they've got a lot on their plates. So before your lighting gets forgotten and all the money in your budget spent on other things, you are hopefully advised to look for a lighting designer (hi!). This is good. The best lighting is integrated into the architecture, not an after thought, so an appropriate time to bring someone in is during design development. If you are already past that, framed up and in a panic that no one has really thought about your lighting 'til now, don't lose hope. It's amazing the insight a lighting designer can give during a walk-through with a set of plans and a red pen.
Here are some things to expect... A lighting designer will make sure you have appropriate light levels throughout your project, can highlight focal points such as architectural elements and art, will consult on the best energy efficient products in your price range and can help you set lighting scenes through your control system.
To my California people, we get extra special treatment in regards to lighting-- it's called Title 24, and the struggle is real. We must abide by these strict energy codes to pass inspection. It can feel like you are being forced to use unappealing LED lights all throughout your project but this is a common misconception. Title 24 applies only to certain rooms/areas in the house/commercial space and LED technology is constantly evolving in a very good way. An advantage of having a lighting designer on your team is having the most up-to-date information and fixture selections at your fingertips!