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Allan Corfield6.6.2019 6 min read

How appointing a Lighting Designer can improve your Self Build? – Interview with David Brown

To help you understand the importance of a lighting designer’s role in increasing the vibe of your property as well as making your space more functional, we spoke to David Brown, from David Brown Design Group, an award-winning company specialising in interiors and lighting.

In this article, David shares his rich experience in lighting design and explains how good lighting design can make a difference in the perception of space in your house and provides some interesting tips on how to you achieve a nice and comfortable atmosphere in your dwelling.

lighting designer

WHAT IS DAVID BROWN DESIGN AND WHAT SERVICES DO YOU PROVIDE?

DBD Group Ltd specialises in residential lighting design and integration. Having spent 3 decades developing lighting solutions there are techniques that simply work and there are loopholes that do not. Lighting can be left to the last minute, clients often think about lighting but rarely fully understand the implications.

WHY IS LIGHTING DESIGN IMPORTANT IN THE INTERIOR DESIGN PROCESS?

Lighting design is fundamental to the way you feel, it’s the vehicle to allow us to visually appreciate the environment we live in. It can enhance materials, create mood, relax or stimulate.

It’s all down to understanding the coordination between lighting design and our surroundings. In a way, there are different ways of looking at what lighting can do from an interiors point of view.

There is architectural detailing which integrates light into the fabric of the shell of a building and also the objects within. There are the feature and decorative lighting, these are not only beautiful objects, but they are also styled to tie in with interior colours, materials and finishes.

HOW COMMON IS IT FOR A SELF-BUILDER TO APPOINT A LIGHTING DESIGNER, OR IS IT ONLY FOR HIGH-END PROJECTS?

It’s becoming more important and appreciated. Pinterest, Houzz, Instagram all help to give clients an insight into lighting possibilities.

There are barriers though, lighting is an investment, similar to a good kitchen, bathroom, roof material or wall cladding. It should be budgeted accordingly.

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How often do I talk to self-build house owners and they say: ‘I wish I had thought about the lighting!’. They are so overwhelmed by the whole build process they dismiss the importance of this till it’s too late. They just need to make sure that they integrate lighting during the design process.

HOW CAN LIGHTING AFFECT THE PERCEPTION OF SPACE WITHIN A ROOM AND HOW CAN YOU MANIPULATE IT TO GET THE DESIRED EFFECTS?

Once natural light fades, artificial light takes over. It’s about making the light specific to the task at hand whether it is reading a book, cooking in the kitchen or turning on the landscape lighting.

Key points to work to are: make it specific to the task – this relates to the direction of light, getting the light to where you need it most. Don’t use a single light source and think this will suit all occasions such as a central pendant or a grid of down lights. Layer the light which is levels of light, floor, below table, picture, reading mid height products, ceiling mounted chandeliers and pendants, ceiling recessed wall washing or linear.

lighting designer

Each individually controllable so that the lighting scene can be set to suit the mood required, enhance details using a variety of techniques to pick out details whether it is a niche, shelf, cornice, picture, vase of flowers, steps, night lights, perspectives and control is managing the lit environment setting scenes to reflect the mood and levels of light, bright mix of sources to low level relaxation.  Most of all it must be simple to understand and use.

WHAT ELEMENTS SHOULD BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT WHEN DESIGNING LIGHTING FOR A SELF BUILD AND AT WHAT STAGE OF THE DESIGN PROCESS IT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED?

Lighting design covers internal, external lighting, artificial and natural light, window treatments such as blinds and curtains (this relates to managing light), lighting automation.

More specifically, each element there are numerous tips on getting it right. Plan the cable management, make sure the plant room is the correct size and in a usable location. Duct cables before concrete slabs are poured! Lighting design should be considered at the beginning of a Self Build project. The site, for example, the architecture will be designed to work with natural light. So lighting design is not only about artificial light, it is about natural light too.

WHY IS COLOUR MANAGEMENT IMPORTANT? IS IT IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER THE WARMTH AND INTENSITY OF LIGHT WHEN SELECTING FIXTURES/LIGHTBULBS?

For most interiors, a Kelvin rating of between 2500 – 3000k is right. Cold white 5000 – 6500k is too harsh, for some reason more popular in Europe.

There is a new product called dim to warm. This means the light will go from 3000k to 2500k when it is dimmed down.

It comes at a slightly premium cost and should be used carefully so as not to waste funds.

Colour should be very carefully used and there are times when colour works well. Colour temperature is important, try and read a book in 2500k light at 200 lux and you won’t last long.

You really need 3000k and 800 lux to fully see well.

The older you get the more your sight diminishes and cooler temperatures become more important.

lighting designer

WHAT ARE THE MAIN COST-EFFECTIVE LIGHTING FEATURES THAT YOU WOULD SUGGEST FOR A ONE-OFF HOME ON A BUDGET? 

Night lights for sure. Halls and stairs, great for child and visitor safety, Perfect in bedrooms and ensuites, one watt is all that is needed to navigate in total darkness. Other lighting features I would suggest would be 5amp circuits, all controlled from the door to a room or automated. The days of walking around rooms leaning over to find the switch are in the past.

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HOW MUCH DOES THE LIGHTING DESIGN SERVICE COST FOR AN AVERAGE SELF-BUILD HOUSE?

As a rough guide £1000.00 for this, you get CAD lighting plans, lighting solutions and proposals. Thereafter it is down to implementation and there are numerous variables for this.

The variables consist of:

  • Advice only
  • Product supply
  • Product installation
  • Tender documentation
  • Commissioning and project management

Managing and supplying product has the advantage of getting a product that is not run of the mill, wholesale orientated solutions. It’s getting access to advanced lighting product, control systems and solutions that work. You have to remember, I have decades of experience where as a self-builder has virtually none.

lighting designer

FOR MORE WEALTHY SELF-BUILDERS, YOU OFFER LIGHTING PRODUCTS MADE OF SWAROVSKI CRYSTALS, ARE THERE ANY OTHER INTERESTING TRENDS THAT WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?

I design feature lighting products, I also specify the best lighting products available on the market. Many wealthy clients don’t want a catalogues solution and certainly do not want a feature light chandelier that the neighbours or even their friends may have.

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Above, one of Swarovski’s most contemporary new crystals, our fitting was selected to be photographed for the Swarovski magazine and displayed in Fenwick’s, London.

WHAT ARE THE TOP 5 TIPS YOU COULD GIVE TO A SELF-BUILDER IN TERMS OF LIGHTING DESIGNING?

1. Design and budget early, get to understand what lighting is about.
2. Plan the installation, understand cable management, ducts etc.
3. Understand how you want the building to work day and night.
4. Lighting control systems – I use Lutron, they are simply the best. This covers lighting control and window treatments. This is very suited to open plan living.
5. Don’t be fooled by the price, there is a reason why some product cost more and it is one of my many tasks to guide a client through this maze.

 

We would like to thank David Brown for his expert contribution to ACA’s blog. If you would like to learn more about lighting design visit DBD Group’s website and contact their specialists to discuss the solutions.

 
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