Complementing natural lighting with architectural lighting helps our clients enjoy the home day and night. Daytime tends to be more casual in luxury vacation rentals — family drape their towels by the pool, and the house may present itself a little messier, and that’s okay. Yet in the evening, you may host a formal dinner party — that’s when it becomes more of a show. Rather than focus on one big fixture, the trends we see in minimalist design spark maximum lighting technology in which less is more.
What do I mean by maximum? Lighting technology is traveling incredibly fast — in a sense, at the speed of light. On average it’s at a six-month cycle; every six months something new comes out, such as an improvement on color efficiency or controls that dim led without flickering. Lighting is one element where a client can decide to spend a tremendous amount of money or go very basic. A wall fixture could cost anywhere from $35 to $700.
Complement natural light with artificial lighting
Right now, there’s a trend in being able to manufacture smaller and smaller fixtures that provide the same level of light as some of their bigger counterparts. The goal in mind is to clean up the ceilings; instead of ugly can lights, now recessed fixtures integrated into the ceiling with frameless installation clean up space, and make it more open, more modern. Going minimal is one trend, and another trend is newer systems with wider choices of technology at differing price levels.
Lighting is a worthy investment. The nuances of architectural lighting are very important, as we look at the uses of the space and the ambiances you want to create from morning to the night.
Our process complements natural lighting with artificial lighting. We can shade a west facing property from harsh sunlight mid- to late-afternoon with long overhangs; whereas in some other rooms that may have a north-facing orientation, we welcome the opportunity for soft natural light. An indoor-outdoor experience creates a meditative space and a powerful connection to the natural views.
Light ‘scenes’ for every part of your life
While cooking, pendant fixtures can provide the light needed to see the cutting board and the stovetop. If you have a big open office with lots of windows, why turn on all the lights in the room just because you need to come into the office and do something on the computer? Lighting controls are useful, from basic to a light switch or dimmer switch on the wall to more intelligent systems that enable us to tie different rooms in a system and create scenes.
Imagine you have a social space. There are spotlights right over the dining room table and pendants over the kitchen island, complemented by other fixtures of your choice. When you’re having dinner, perhaps you dim the light in the dining area to 80% and the living area to 50% to keep the mood in the room but focus on the dining table, then the lighting down to 10% around the utility area (where you stash the dirty dishes). As minimalist design sparks maximum lighting technology, a simple keypad on the wall allows the owner to choose from a variety of scenes — just press “dining” or “with guests” or “reading” and by doing that, not only have you already worked out the magic of architectural lighting by choosing fixtures that provide the right level and mood of light … but also you’ve created different moods for the same space. As designers who specialize in architectural lighting, the concept is very interesting, complex and fun for us.
Create simplicity in your minimalist home through maximum lighting technology
One of our clients just asked us to expand on the system in her house, to give her more control. She asked: Can I go to bed at night and just press a button that will shut the entire house off? Yes, we can do that! Other add-ons include a sensor that will shut off all the lights in a room if no one is there, which I would recommend for a commercial space, yet in a home, you may be on your terrace and still want your living room lights on. We realize that our vacation homes are probably empty 70% of the year, but the owners may want to have some lights on the exterior for security. To meet their needs, systems can be set up to turn on those zones of light at a certain time. Or, systems enabled to work with World Clock so they can turn on at sunset and off at sunrise.
As minimalist design sparks maximum lighting technology, our clients are extremely happy that we can design so mindfully with light. Many years ago the focus was on the fixture itself. Owners would want a beautiful decorative sconce to stand out. Now, we’d rather showcase the shape of the light — triangular patterns on the wall appear like magic, as the source of the light is hidden from plain sight. This sort of effort brings a project to another level, as opposed to working with an architect who doesn’t specialize in lighting, passing on the job to an electrical engineer who just lights the room. But when it’s designed by an architect who specializes in architectural lighting, both you and your guests experience the “wow” factor. Exploring architectural lighting makes a world of a difference.