Intelligent lighting

The influential individuals, companies and partnerships driving the interior design industry forward. This month, Philip Pini – Business Development Manager at control and automation systems specialist Crestron.

All rooms need lighting, whether it is practical lighting in a kitchen or bathroom or ambient lighting to set a particular mood, such as in a bedroom or a living room. The lighting scheme should always be considered before decorating as you need to think about where the lights will go, if you need to install cables, and how each light will complement each other and interact with the different surfaces and fabrics in the room.

There are many types of lighting to consider when designing a lighting scheme. Below are the main three concepts.

Downlights: These light fixtures are installed in hollow openings, usually in ceilings. By doing this, the light looks as if it is part of the ceiling, rather than hanging down or sitting separately. They tend to be used to highlight key focal points in the room and create different moods. Generally downlights are considered for fixed areas that will not require regular movement. In terms of numbers, this very much comes down to personal preference and what you want to achieve with the room. The more lamps you have, the more freedom you have to create different effects.

Uplights: These lamps cast light upwards, so it ‘bounces’ off the ceiling and is thrown around the room. By directing light toward the ceiling, uplighters act as a large reflector creating a soft, ambient light. These work best in rooms with white or pale ceilings – it mimics natural light, providing a more positive feel to the room. Uplights are not just great for transforming large themed spaces, but small intimate settings as well, for example, through free-standing lamps or from the floor.

Accent lighting: This gives texture, focus and shape to general lighting. By adding depth and shade it creates shadows in some corners and pools of light in others. It is formed by a mixture of halogen spotlights, downlights, uplights and table lamps. Accent lighting adds drama to a room by creating visual interest. As part of an interior design scheme, it is used to draw the eye to focal points such as houseplants, paintings, sculptures and other features.


Creating ambience
Lighting is the best tool for creating a mood and ambience. Ambient lighting refers to the general illumination of a room and is a broad category that encompasses a wide range of luminaire types.

Ambient lighting appears from all directions with no obvious source, as opposed to directional or focal lighting that has a fixed target. In a bedroom for example, it is important to set the right ambience and create a series of different modes, for example reading, sleeping or watching TV.


In the mornings, curtains or blinds open and the bedroom is flooded with light but at the end of a busy day, there is nothing that helps you relax more than the calming influence of a subtly lit bedroom. To achieve this, dimming and pre-set lighting scenes for morning and evening are both elements worth considering.

Reading and dress lights are also crucial – opting for these as opposed to downlights directly above the head or end of the bed ensures a more comfortable night’s sleep. Whatever lighting you do choose, remember to have switches located on both sides for shared beds and a nearby switch for reading light.

Scene setting and colour temperature
Different lighting scenes can change the feel of a room from hour to hour. In the living room you may need a range of different lighting pre-sets for different areas and scenarios: low lighting for watching television, spotlights for reading and enough light to fill the space when having friends over. You may choose to use decorative lighting in these spaces – such as chandeliers or wall sconces – designed to appear as if they illuminate the whole room, when in reality, general and task lighting is providing most of the light.


One of the most important things that link lighting and interior design is colour temperature. Sources that produce a cool (white/blue) light are said to have high colour temperature, compared to sources that have a warm (white/yellow) light, which are said to have a low colour temperature. Knowing how these differing temperatures affect colour will help you decide when and where to use them. Using warm coloured temperatures will make reds and peaches look better, whereas blues and greens will look better under a cool temperature.


LED lighting and controls
LED lighting is an important advancement in lighting for the home and is rapidly becoming the standard for new builds and renovations. You can now achieve a much better quality of light with varying colour temperatures with LED over traditional light sources. By using lighting control, you can also reduce the amount of energy that is wasted by lighting unoccupied spaces as well as being able to create decorative and interesting lighting scenes that change throughout the day.

When LED controls are integrated with sensory controls, you can create a daylight harvesting solution that automatically optimises light levels throughout the day with no adverse impact on the comfort of users within the room. This means that the lights will be automatically switched off or reduced to around 10% brightness when there is plenty of daylight, or when there is nobody present in that particular room.

Ideally, dimming with LEDs provides an incandescent-like performance such smoothly dimming down to the lowest possible spec without any flickering. Dimmers should also allow for shifts in colour temperature to enhance ambience and user comfort.



Sign up to our newsletter

facebooktwittergoogle plusyoutube