16 Aug 2021

Light: The Single Fundamental of Design

Design trends are coming and going more quickly than ever. Minimalist, rustic, modern, biophilic, contemporary, international, luxury, earthy, traditional, shabby, eco – there’s an ever-growing list of ways to categorise style and guide the design process, says Miguel Aguado, Marketing and Technology Manager at Lutron Electronics.


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During their lifespan, our rooms fluidly evolve from one style to another, becoming more personalised over time. The use of each space changes even faster than our taste, especially during the pandemic – an office can quickly become a dining area and then a personal gym in the space of a few hours.

While design and function seemingly move at an ever-increasing pace, one element remains constant. Lighting is the single critical factor to a room’s style at every stage of its lifespan. Getting it wrong undermines the aesthetic and the intended use of the room, while finding the perfect light is key to creating the best possible environment. Simply put, it’s the one non-negotiable when it comes to creating the perfect home.

While colour, furnishings and space are constantly discussed, light remains underconsidered and underrepresented within the design community. However, a space can be completely transformed by altering the intensity, placement and colour of light, making it the most powerful tool in a designer’s toolbox.

As any lighting designer will tell you, there are many considerations that must be taken to maximise the space at all times, no matter the use.


Interior design, at its essence, is about combining different elements in a way that allows them to complement one another. Colours, materials, textures and features – everything should be perfectly balanced and working harmoniously to create the desired experiential effect.

The key element required to develop this level of sensory cohesion is lighting. It is critical to style, and must be considered when beginning to design a lighting scheme.


Functionality is one of the most critical roles of light. In design, all lighting must serve a purpose and play a role within its wider scheme, whether you’re looking for full-room illumination or simply particular areas for specific tasks.

To achieve the right light, one must understand that different spaces have different lighting requirements. We all, even if intuitively, understand that offices need bright light to help with reading or working at a computer while a restaurant needs a softer, more forgiving lighting scheme.

In very simple terms, lighting function tends to be driven by quantity and power. Too little light, and it’s impossible to perform necessary tasks, too much, and it risks undermining aesthetics and, in extreme circumstances, causing eye discomfort. Ensuring you have the right number of light sources and completely dimmable capabilities will provide the perfect level of lighting control and flexibility necessary to meet any space’s function.

Mood and atmosphere

Lighting has an instant and dramatic effect on our mood and perception of a space. Given it’s such a powerful tool, it must be able to suit the space and mood required. Having a system that includes a couple of different schemes within one space can singlehandedly change the perceived use of a space. Having pre-set scenes means homeowners can become extremely versatile within the same space, with minimal effort required.

Health and wellbeing

Lighting isn’t just illumination – it’s a powerful tool that supports wellbeing, comfort, productivity and mood. Good lighting should focus on the individuals and their needs, and we need to look at the totality of the lighting requirements, including biological, visual, non-visual and emotional responses. Numerous surveys and studies have found that access to daylight and connection to the outdoors is the most desired workplace feature, leading to increased job satisfaction and employee retention.


Aside from using light to emote, lighting design can also be used to highlight specific details of interior settings. Directional lighting, for instance, ensures guests’ eyes are drawn to specific pieces and can even provide physical guidance to visitors. Lighting is also a vital tool for visual storytelling, where a designer uses light to express specific moods and elements. These key aspects can be anything from an intriguing wall panel filled with textures, unique architectural features, a stunning staircase, a piece of wall art, and so on.

The future is light

While other aspects of design are key, lighting is fundamental. The right light transforms a space, making a room feel comfortable, dramatic or atmospheric. It can highlight artwork, create targeted bright areas for cooking, reading or working and performs countless other tasks.

Light has the power to either undermine or elevate design to the next level. The key to its successful implementation relies on an understanding of light’s role within its environment. Modern lighting proves its versatility in brightness, colours and schemes to enable homeowners to create the perfect environment within their homes, to host the many activities that make up their daily lives.

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