To the untrained eye, the terms ‘light’ and ‘illumination’ are one and the same. But to an architect or interior designer, the latter has intrinsically aesthetic connotations. Illumination refers to the deliberate use of light to create a practical or visual effect in a given space. Mediums can be both natural, as well as artificial, with a host of different options available to experiment with.
Choosing a light bulb isn’t as simple as hitting up your local hardware store and opting for an Edison screw or a bayonet cap. Colour temperatures play a hugely important role in the overall feel of a space, and should be tailored to fit its unique purposes. For example, the low colour temperature of Tungsten incandescent bulbs make them ideal for household use, with Cinematographer Tom Robotham theorising that the preference for ‘warmth’ can be traced back to the pre-historic practice of sitting around campfires.
For interior designers, light sources are an endlessly fascinating concept to play with. From wall sconces and hanging pendants to table lamps and standing shades, decorative lighting can be used to complement the ambience of a space, both aesthetically and from an illumination perspective. Take strings of fairy lights for example. When used in outdoor spaces, they illuminate in the dark, as well as create a whimsical mood. Lighting can also be a centrepiece in itself, with additions such as chandeliers and other statement pieces capable of categorically stealing the show.
While mirrors aren’t a source of light in themselves, they can be a hugely effective way to disperse and expand existing light. By reflecting the light emitted from the sun or an artificial source, mirrors create the illusion of space and lustre.
Natural light is innately uplifting, yet sometimes it’s just not possible or practical to incorporate windows into a space. In these sorts of scenarios, sky lights can be an incredibly valuable design tool. Built into the roof of a building, sky lights allow light to stream in from above, which floods a space in natural sunlight. Perfect for interior windowless bathrooms or dens, attic rooms with awkward wall angles, lobbies with soaring dimensions and even well-lit rooms where too much natural light is never enough!
Often, lighting is less about being seen, and more about creating a subtle yet beautiful effect. This technique is popular with residential interior designers in the form of under cabinet strips, recessed downlights, directional spotlights and wall washers.
Light it up!
Probably the least common yet most visually stunning of all light sources, fire never fails to enchant. Think glowing candles, roaring log fire places, outdoor braziers and other light sources that quite literally burn. Of course, fire safety is paramount, and the lives and wellbeing of occupants should never be compromised for the sake of aesthetics.
When it comes to artistically illuminating spaces, there’s no shortage of options. Light sources can make all the difference, which is why it’s so important to get creative, stay inspired and choose an option that shines bright!
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