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How using alternative ways to illuminate spaces creates both interesting and intimate environments

Posted by Lighting Design International on 4 Aug 2022


By Arianna Ghezzi - Senior Designer

It can be said that some of the most successful lighting schemes are ones where the lighting fixtures themselves are so concealed that it is nearly impossible to accurately define where the light is being sourced. However, it cannot be denied that other projects without this design method are equally as fascinating, in their own way. Projects where the language of the lighting is used in such an unpredictable and unique way, really shows how far the lighting designer has gone, creating something entirely new and original, something unexpected, using the power of light to create a new world. What makes these particular schemes so compelling, is that these lighting solutions aren’t always as complicated and convoluted as one may think. In fact, it is often quite the opposite. Simplicity can be the key to creating the unexpected. The truth is, the human brain is somewhat pre-set to expect recurring elements, given the fact we experience them every single day of our life, at every moment. Deviating even slightly from the standardisation, by using the common element of light, and a different way within an environment, can result is pure brilliance in relation to the mood and atmosphere created. To further this conception, the image below within a private residence home, explains the idea more clearly.

It is massively common to have light on a wall to create a soft glow, however when a single light which previously would’ve created a simple luminosity is multiplied, the difference is remarkable. The increase of a single light to many across an entire elevation, to create a lighting net spread, is truly mesmerising. Covering the wall in lanterns, turns the entire screen into a feature, an art piece, that is relatively simple in its identity, but incredibly powerful to create elegance across the entire partition. The use of this design creates a link between the interior and the exterior of the house, overcoming the overwhelming feeling when one looks outside from the interior to darkness. It allows the garden to be lit both peacefully and neatly.


A lighting solution can also be exceptionally extravagant, creating the unexpected, the unforeseen. The image below shows an area that is both cosy and intimate but done so using bright neon signage and lighting messages. The signs invites one to indulge and relax.

In such a setting, you might expect perhaps calming wall lights, a peaceful chandelier or even downlights. In this case the messages and deep red lighting is so meticulously chosen, creating an inviting and attractive vibe, making the cost space quite interesting. This area could most certainly be seen as the popular and sought after ‘Instagram Moment’, something that in today’s society is somewhat invaluable. An exciting and gripping setting is certainly one to be shared and captured on the internet, and in so many cases it is the light that is leading the scenes environment.


At the Ham Yard Hotel, the simplicity yet effectiveness of light begins in the exterior, being led into the interior throughout the establishment. Along the pathway, there is an installation that isn’t quite expected. Normally, we would suspect simple paths to have bollards or path lights, championing a more functional use, however as you can see below in this scene, that is not the case. Our Lighting Designers have created a touch of magic, directing the guests’ using stars and precious illumination. Much like ancient sailors used the elegant stars above to guide them through the night, each one dotted uncritically, but beautifully, leading the guests to the main reception. Invisible during the day, magic appears at night, interactive in every-way. Catching the eye, perhaps leading to following each glisten, maybe playing by covering each star at a time, relaxing next to them or even getting lost in the beauty of the night sky closer to our human dimension.

One setting where it is critical to create an intimate environment and calming setting is at spas. The lighting needs to be effective at one time, but subdued on the other, a key player of the entire guest’s experience. The lighting for 'The Romano’s Spa' revokes serenity and intimacy, but also a touch of surprise, with the inclusion of a hint of colour. The deep blue being used at the ceiling height is a poetic reference to the captivating blue sky, inspiring tranquillity, and relaxation to the guests as they walk along the corridor. The use of the coloured light isn’t exactly innovative per se, but it is the calibrated use of it which makes it alternative, the contrast is in no way loud, yet elegant and carefully measured. The distinction between the deep blue and the warm glow seen below from the decorative chandelier, plays with complementary colours and their shades.


Keeping with the topic of colour within lighting, the total beauty of coloured lighting can completely transform and create a mesmerising optical illusion. In the image below, note the deep red that is achieved along the ruptures, which separate the wall and the ceiling. The dramatics of the lighting suggests flaming lava is erupting from the cracks. This caliginous lighting compliments the water, which becomes a mirror, a reflection of the dramatic scene above. The entire environment creates both theatrics and suspense, with the lighting detail itself being simplistic. It is the combination of the colour and architecture that creates the enchantment. Lighting in this space has become the main character, taking ownership of stage. Lastly, this lighting solution is victorious in many ways, given it does not exceed the use of light. If the scene were to differ with the water and flooring along the pool lit, the dramatic contrast would not be as appreciable, losing the entire scheme. The reality of lighting design is that sometimes the alternative way of lighting a space is to choose to under light the feature, allowing darkness to prevail.