Text: Dr. Amardeep M. Dugar

06. Dec 2010

Office lighting: When research meets design

“In an ideal world there […] would be a smooth and obvious transfer of knowledge from lighting research to lighting design. Researchers would be the producers of knowledge and understanding. Designers would be the consumers of that knowledge. But this is not an ideal world. […] anyone examining current lighting practice might suspect that lighting researchers and lighting designers inhabit different planets.” (Boyce 1987)

A review of the growing body of literature on architectural lighting reveals that much research has been conducted and published specifically for office lighting. However, little published work has been found to show that this research is making any significant contribution in the design of office lighting. The aim is to propose a framework consisting of well-researched characteristics, which can be used in the design of good quality office lighting. The characteristics listed in this framework are based on literature reviews, practical experience and common sense. The proposed framework does not attempt to provide taxonomies for office lighting; it only provides perspectives and themes for analysis, and conceptual guidance for design.

In evaluating office lighting as a convenient context for observations about the lack of knowledge transfer from the lighting research community into the lighting design com-munity several fundamental issues have been identified. The first issue as pointed by Boyce (1987) is the need for a classification for office lighting design that goes beyond designer lighting or consensus lighting. Designer lighting is the creation of an individual who creates a design based on personal experience and knowledge, often gained through a background in theatre lighting, which has provided expertise in painting with light. Research plays little or no role in the thought process as the designer is confident in his/her ability, creativity, and judgement, and seldom requires inspiration from research results. On rare occasions, research might influence the thought process and suggest a new design approach. Consensus lighting, on the other hand, appears to have little to do with creativity. Instead, it is governed by the recommendations and procedures resulting from the consensus of lighting experts in a committee. The suggested lighting procedures can be applied by almost anyone with basic lighting knowledge. Lighting solutions based on consensus have been found reasonable for the type of application specified. But rarely does such lighting design evoke excitement in the designer or user, nor will it be influenced by research activity. […]
The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 74

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