“It takes a lot of work to figure out how to look so good.”
In the era of the selfie and Photoshop, residential and commercial lighting are following suit in an effort to make your home or business look as natural and beautiful as you want it to be. Highlighting points of interest, tasks and materials to bring out the best in these areas is high-tech and has become just as important as material selection and quality when it comes to home or brick-and-mortar store.
“The trend is really about more layers and more controls and going back to a more natural appearance,” says Gordon Hunt, President and Chief Marketing Officer of Illuminating Technologies, a Greensboro, N.C.,-based company offering innovative photonic solutions and energy management.
The company services retail establishments, warehouses and facilities such as hotels, colleges and museums and builds custom solutions for both new and existing construction. “We are primarily commercial but the same technology and looks apply to residential. There’s a distinct move away from gimmicky ‘green’ trends and towards high tech solutions with environmental impact,” says Hunt, “The bottom line is that today we can be responsible and make it beautiful.”
Hunt says that people want comfort and warmth when it comes to environment and that lighting is a key factor in providing that. “We understand materials and how lighting has an impact on them,” he says, “certain colors of stone, granite versus solid surfaces all require different lighting. And you’re going to waste a lot of money if you put in expensive materials with the wrong lighting.”
Julia Wood, owner and chief designer at The Design First, a Greensboro, N.C., kitchen and bath company works with Hunt on design projects. “Gordon knows his stuff,” says Wood, “he knows how to get efficiency without giving up gorgeous lighting. In my business – kitchens and baths – it really shapes everything you see, whether it’s putting on make-up or cooking dinner in a custom kitchen or just plain safety issues!”
Age also plays a factor when it comes to lighting. Hunt says the eye’s ability to shift changes drastically from 30 to 40 to 60 to 75 and both he and Wood take that into account. “I begin with using contrasting work surfaces and cabinetry and then bring in lighting to customize,” says Wood. “It’s even more important in the bath where more accidents happen than any other room.”
Another trend extending from commercial into residential spaces is outdoor lighting. “You don’t want your yard to look like a dentist’s office,” says Hunt, “but if you can see outside it carries your indoor space outside. Add in the outdoor kitchen trend, security and safety and it’s a win, win, win.”
Wood says the time to correct lighting issues is anytime but especially at remodel/ pre-construction if possible and that old lighting styles (halogen, xenon and incandescent) produce heat and cost more to operate. “No longer is LED so stark white. The technology has come very far to simulate those warm, rich tones. Premium lighting doesn’t have to cost a small fortune anymore, in the short- or long-term. Operational costs have come down on general lighting sources thanks to technological improvements,” she says.
Daylight Harvesting – using solar tubes, skylights and other sources of natural light to augment artificial – is also trending. “And the beauty of it is that all of this is not an expensive thing to do,” says Wood, “you really just have to plan for it!”