Triassic

Lighting Design Services

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I’m about to start first fix electrics and was discussing lighting with the electrician. He tells me that one of his suppliers does a free lighting design service, he’s going to send them my plans. Has anyone els3 used such a service and if so, what did you think of the results?

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I'll add to this topic rather than start my own - but I'd be interested in this too. 

 

I spoke to a commercial one sitting next to me on a plane, she only did things like offices etc, but in her opinion it might be worth a consult or two but there's a lot of handwaviness about.

 

This all comes back to my earlier opinion where major benefits could be had if people who design lifestyle, lighting systems, architectural features all work together on some concerted vision based on real experience. Things like personal preferences, habits around the day, angles of light, artworks that need to be custom-lit etc etc could be accounted for but in practice I think more often than not you get sold a lot of nothing where people just charge for making up some random Feng Sui type line of fantasy.

 

One thing she did tell me is to not 'just' go for a matrix of downlighters. Great for cleaning but if you want atmosphere, light the walls. I should also have her recommendation on a good london-area guy if I can dig it out..  let me know if you want me to see if I can find it..

 

Anyone else opinions? 

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I’ve got the free design, all 80 pages, it’s centred around what a single manufacturer has to offer, so some good ideas and some not so good ideas. My main problem id that  I’m a bloke and I’ve no vision! I also have three large rooms with cathedral ceilings and a basement that need carful lighting.

 

Im going to ask around locally (Cumbria and North Lancashire) if anyone can recommend someone to do a design.
 

I’d hate to spoil the ship for the want of decent lighting.

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Can you share your free design then? 😃

Would love to take a look...

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7 hours ago, puntloos said:

Can you share your free design then? 😃

Would love to take a look...

I’ll send you a copy!

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A supplier is obviously after selling as many fittings as possible and is more than likely just going to grid up loads of downlights. As was mentioned above light the walls not the spaces and think about what atmosphere you want to create in different rooms. 5a wall circuits work really well for floor standing or reading lights so great in living spaces. Think about where you might want to hang pictures and put a row of adjustable downlights along that wall about 600mm off wall. Just rememeber if design work is free it is not going to be by a decent designer. You pay for decent work.

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I have always been a bit dubious about lighting designers.  I worked for one of the largest manufacturers of lighting controllers and diffusers in the UK about 20 years ago (my project was not lighting).  Often we would get a lighting designer come in with some great new concept. They were all flakey "designs" and nothing new.  We treated them with respect, nodded at the right times, pretended to be enthusiastic, then did a quote for them.  That was the end of that.

I am very happy that I have not been involved in the business since LEDs have come along, would have been the same old all over again, but with smaller illuminairs and more colours.

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10 hours ago, puntloos said:

One thing she did tell me is to not 'just' go for a matrix of downlighters. Great for cleaning but if you want atmosphere, light the walls.

Interesting and shows how much variation there is in what people want. I'm not interested in atmosphere, I just want to be able to see clearly. If I wanted some bling I could add a few LED strips I suppose. For me all this lighting walls etc just produces a lot of shadows. Some friends of ours have a house with 'fancy' lighting and I find it's like scratching around in a cave.

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Just now, PeterStarck said:

I just want to be able to see clearly

I had my cataracts changed, sorted that problem, can put a 3 watt build in a room and see fine.

I do use a cheap standard lamp for reading in bed, still got a 3 W bulb in it.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, PeterStarck said:

Interesting and shows how much variation there is in what people want. I'm not interested in atmosphere, I just want to be able to see clearly. If I wanted some bling I could add a few LED strips I suppose. For me all this lighting walls etc just produces a lot of shadows. Some friends of ours have a house with 'fancy' lighting and I find it's like scratching around in a cave.

If their house feels like scratching around in a cave then it is a perfect example of not designing the lighting properly. A good lighting scheme will allow you to see properly but does not feel like you are living in an office or a branch of Debenhams.

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@Triassic, the core problem you would  have in briefing a lighting designer is your modesty

9 hours ago, Triassic said:

[...]

  I’m a bloke and I’ve no vision!

[...]

 

Everyone can start from ' I know what I like ' , and everyone can put together a Pintrest Board - or something like that - magazine cuttings will do. Once you start, you won't be able to stop. I've found the process great fun. I've almost stopped changing my mind.

That process will inevitably help you produce a brief for either yourself, or a designer.

 

One of my children is an architectural illustrator for a large design office in Canada. He produces presentations using a bit of software called DIAlux : its the kind of complex program that takes a whole night to render an animation of how a building looks in all sorts of lighting scenarios. Naturally, he discussed our lighting scheme with us. His advice : layers, and simplicity. Trixy means unecessary cost.

 

The simplest approach might be to get a copy of something like The Bible of Home Lighting - it takes you through the design development steps, has a helpful chapter structure and a passable index. And then there's this video about lighting by Llewelyn Whats His Face

 

We found Use Cases to be helpful in making decisions. Perhaps not the formal Use Case of the software programmer - simply thinking through the light we'd like to have in well-understood situations;

  • Evening in front of the box - getting up to make a brew
  • slicing onions and - eyes streaming -  throwing the peel in the bin
  • coming home, arms full of shopping, and unpacking
  • a 3am. trip to the loo - how not to disturb others
  • reading the newspaper at the kitchen table or armchair
  • whats at the back of this cupboard?
  • how to read in bed without disturbing the OH

We asked around locally (in the same area you are looking) : I got the distinct impression that the services offered were more suited to large companies.

11 hours ago, puntloos said:

[...]

it might be worth a consult or two but there's a lot of handwaviness about.

 

This all comes back to my earlier opinion where major benefits could be had if people who design lifestyle, lighting systems, architectural features all work together on some concerted vision based on real experience. Things like personal preferences, habits around the day, angles of light, artworks that need to be custom-lit etc etc could be accounted for but in practice I think more often than not you get sold a lot of nothing where people just charge for making up some random Feng Sui type line of fantasy.

[...]

 

@puntloos puts it best of all, I think.

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I would say one key point with an aesthetic designer - such as lighting or interior - is to keep track of what you wanted (statement of requirements or design brief at start), and keep that 'in your back pocket' to refer to.

 

That way you avoid being persuaded of things that you do not want / need, or - if you are persuaded - you know that you have agreed to the change.

 

And to make sure that you know what their scope / dependencies are, and perhaps how much impact you will allow on other things. For me with an Interior Designer a red flag of impending budget creep might be "I want those light moved to *there* to be central over a table I want to put *here*, and it needs a new window *there*" in an existing house ie affecting other things.

 

I recently employed an Interior Designer on the advice of a Lettings Agent when redecorating/carpeting a student house. The initial comprehensive scheme was nearly as much as I spent on a full refurb 8-10 years ago, but by judicious redoing and phasing we cut the budget down substantially, whilst still leaving a juicy enough project for the ID. Worked well and the LA has managed to move the house quite significantly upmarket, even though it is in a row of identical modern houses. I was very sceptical.

 

So I find myself a slightly surprised convert to using designers.

 

11 hours ago, Triassic said:

My main problem id that  I’m a bloke and I’ve no vision!

This is not true. It is a mind control trick to keep you in the garage painting planks of wood 😛.

 

F

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41 minutes ago, Ferdinand said:

[...]

keep track of what you wanted (statement of requirements or design brief at start), and keep that 'in your back pocket' to refer to.

[...]

 

Drafting that brief when the customer is inexperienced can be daunting. And its hell's own job getting a brief out of customers when all they want you to do is ' get on with it '.

That's often followed by negative customer feedback, and the designer in turn pointing to the fact that there was no - or an inadequate -  brief.

A good designer will have the soft skills necessary to coax a half-way useable brief out of an often shy, or modest client. In preparing a brief, there's no substitute for looking around, thinking about what you see and discussing that with the designer(s).

 

Dare I say it in this context ---- applies to architects too I think.

Don't worry, I'm off.🤐

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12 minutes ago, AnonymousBosch said:

In preparing a brief, there's no substitute for looking around, thinking about what you see and discussing that with the designer(s).

 

What my cousin did in the 1960s.

Ended up with this.

We all laughed.

 

beehive.jpg

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35 minutes ago, AnonymousBosch said:

And its hell's own job getting a brief out of customers when all they want you to do is ' get on with it '.


Indeed. But that customer is reaping their own whirlwind, and may have walked into a lamp post on the way to the showroom because they forgot their glasses and chose not to go back. 😎.

 

And most self-builders are more planned than that .. I hope I am ... ahem... /lie

Edited by Ferdinand

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5 hours ago, Triassic said:

I’ll send you a copy!

I'd be very interested in a look at this as well please, if you don't mind.

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1 hour ago, SteamyTea said:

What my cousin did in the 1960s.

Ended up with this.

We all laughed.

 

beehive.jpg

 

I think that is what sentries have under a busby.

 

Would be a good viral vid ... Queen's Guard takes off hat and .... beehive yourself.

Edited by Ferdinand

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5 hours ago, PeterStarck said:

Interesting and shows how much variation there is in what people want. I'm not interested in atmosphere, I just want to be able to see clearly. If I wanted some bling I could add a few LED strips I suppose. For me all this lighting walls etc just produces a lot of shadows. Some friends of ours have a house with 'fancy' lighting and I find it's like scratching around in a cave.

 

5 hours ago, SteamyTea said:

I had my cataracts changed, sorted that problem, can put a 3 watt build in a room and see fine.

I do use a cheap standard lamp for reading in bed, still got a 3 W bulb in it.

 

 

 

Perhaps the thing to learn here is that opinions vary, even between partners, and having a flexible system is valuable. My parents have a *super* dark livingroom, even though there's a lot of windows facing south. Main reasons seem to be indeed no downlighters (older house), lots of dark wood, only a few pendants that are strictly speaking mostly pointing down too. I think this was/is my dad's doing who is fine with this.. whilst my mom keeps on complaining about the darkness.. I tend to agree with her, but indeed having a bit more individual control seems sensible here. ("why not both?")

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29 minutes ago, puntloos said:

 

 

Perhaps the thing to learn here is that opinions vary, even between partners, and having a flexible system is valuable. My parents have a *super* dark livingroom, even though there's a lot of windows facing south. Main reasons seem to be indeed no downlighters (older house), lots of dark wood, only a few pendants that are strictly speaking mostly pointing down too. I think this was/is my dad's doing who is fine with this.. whilst my mom keeps on complaining about the darkness.. I tend to agree with her, but indeed having a bit more individual control seems sensible here. ("why not both?")

Yep, both down lights and 5a lighting circuits and whatever else you fancy is how to design a lighting scheme as it is then easy to make a room bright for cooking/reading or maybe darker for movie watching.  In my experience electricians and also light fittings suppliers tend to go for the grid up the ceiling with far too many downlights approach. Back to the OP. I would be interested if your free design suggested any 5a circuits, as there wouldn't be any kind of fitting for them to sell you then.

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7 hours ago, Alex C said:

Yep, both down lights and 5a lighting circuits

Am I assuming correctly that 5a is 5 Ampere? As in pretty low total wattage (which is fine w/ LEDs)?

It does enter into my idea of designing my home to "power" every room with one central smart switch, so if I want to I can completely switch off an entire room with e.g. https://sonoff.tech/product/wifi-diy-smart-switches/powr2 - so I can even monitor how much power a room uses. 

 

(I realize that you can 'only' put 3300W worth of devices on this circuit, not quite sure yet how to make sure that doesn't become an issue, but I think/suspect only devices like vacuums, space heaters etc will start to add up meaningfully, perhaps having one dedicated 'power' socket for such appliances might work.. maybe?

 

7 hours ago, Alex C said:

 

and whatever else you fancy is how to design a lighting scheme as it is then easy to make a room bright for cooking/reading or maybe darker for movie watching.  In my experience electricians and also light fittings suppliers tend to go for the grid up the ceiling with far too many downlights approach. Back to the OP. I would be interested if your free design suggested any 5a circuits, as there wouldn't be any kind of fitting for them to sell you then.

 

 

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23 hours ago, Triassic said:

I’ve got the free design, all 80 pages, it’s centred around what a single manufacturer has to offer, so some good ideas and some not so good ideas. My main problem id that  I’m a bloke and I’ve no vision! I also have three large rooms with cathedral ceilings and a basement that need careful lighting.

 

Im going to ask around locally (Cumbria and North Lancashire) if anyone can recommend someone to do a design.
 

I’d hate to spoil the ship for the want of decent lighting.

Sounds like your "lighting designer" is a typical production line style designer who just churns out soulless lighting designs using their employers product, this is generally bad for the end client because it's tailored to their range, not a range that suits your build. 

 

As an electrical engineer one of my specialities was lighting design, I don't do much of it now, but for a period in my career I did more architectural lighting design than electrical design - I really enjoyed being creative with light with nice and clever products. I can say very confidently, that I am almost certain, that each and every one of you on this forum will have been in a building I have done a lighting design for (electrical too). 

 

There are lighting designers and there are lighting designers, @SteamyTea you make a comment about lighting designers bringing you "ideas" for quotation, possibly this is more geared at luminaire design than actual light, as in light incident on a surface design! But you are right, people will come up with "ideas" that are supposed to be the next great thing and their authority to come up with something such as this may be as simple as they run lighting calcs for a living and decided that they know how to better design a product, then of course there are those of us (I will say us as I was/am a lighting designer - most electrical engineers do lighting too, it's electrical!) who do actually have an authority to innovate lighting product. Some of my friends are Fellows lighting designers, this, like a chartered engineer, however, it is the highest engineering council status you can have bestowed upon you.. I know a couple of lighting designers who sit on the lighting council, they write the lighting regs, the regs that every commercial building of all types are designed too.

 

I work with several lighting design consultancies who work on some of the most prestigious building in the world, lighting we will all be familiar with (I did a lot of the artificial lighting and natural daylighting for parts of the V&A in London and some of the V&A in Dundee) These guys are lighting designers, I also know of young guys, sitting in manufactures offices up and down the country who are basically trained to run lighting calcs - these people are often not lighting designers, they don't design, they simply run calcs and pick product and move it about until the parameters meet with the CIBSE guidelines! However, I also know of some very highly experienced and knowledgeable lighting designers who work for manufacturers so you need to be careful as you can find some gems; typically ask to see some of their work, if they show you offices, schools and student accommodation blocks, walk away. If they use lot of down-lights or are highly repetitive, walk away, if they use all products from one manufacturer question this and have them justify their choices and ask if they have only chosen this because that is what is within their range. If the design is free, then it is a manufacturer looking for a sale - the design could be excellent, it could be trash. If you want, please PM me a copy or a link to your design and I will view it from a professional perspective and tell you if it basically is even a good design, compliant with recommended lighting levels - yes there are even recommended levels for domestic properties, but no one needs to follow them because domestic lighting is not regulated.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Carrerahill said:

Sounds like your "lighting designer" is a typical production line style designer who just churns out soulless lighting designs using their employers product, this is generally bad for the end client because it's tailored to their range, not a range that suits your build. 

 

As an electrical engineer one of my specialities was lighting design, I don't do much of it now, but for a period in my career I did more architectural lighting design than electrical design - I really enjoyed being creative with light with nice and clever products. I can say very confidently, that I am almost certain, that each and every one of you on this forum will have been in a building I have done a lighting design for (electrical too). 

 

There are lighting designers and there are lighting designers, @SteamyTea you make a comment about lighting designers bringing you "ideas" for quotation, possibly this is more geared at luminaire design than actual light, as in light incident on a surface design! But you are right, people will come up with "ideas" that are supposed to be the next great thing and their authority to come up with something such as this may be as simple as they run lighting calcs for a living and decided that they know how to better design a product, then of course there are those of us (I will say us as I was/am a lighting designer - most electrical engineers do lighting too, it's electrical!) who do actually have an authority to innovate lighting product. Some of my friends are Fellows lighting designers, this, like a chartered engineer, however, it is the highest engineering council status you can have bestowed upon you.. I know a couple of lighting designers who sit on the lighting council, they write the lighting regs, the regs that every commercial building of all types are designed too.

 

I work with several lighting design consultancies who work on some of the most prestigious building in the world, lighting we will all be familiar with (I did a lot of the artificial lighting and natural daylighting for parts of the V&A in London and some of the V&A in Dundee) These guys are lighting designers, I also know of young guys, sitting in manufactures offices up and down the country who are basically trained to run lighting calcs - these people are often not lighting designers, they don't design, they simply run calcs and pick product and move it about until the parameters meet with the CIBSE guidelines! However, I also know of some very highly experienced and knowledgeable lighting designers who work for manufacturers so you need to be careful as you can find some gems; typically ask to see some of their work, if they show you offices, schools and student accommodation blocks, walk away. If they use lot of down-lights or are highly repetitive, walk away, if they use all products from one manufacturer question this and have them justify their choices and ask if they have only chosen this because that is what is within their range. If the design is free, then it is a manufacturer looking for a sale - the design could be excellent, it could be trash.

 

All awesome stuff @Carrerahill - thanks. A few questions (not necessarily just to CH)

 

What's your current take on 'smart lights'? While back in the day, only a select few houses (and vegas hotelrooms, for some reason..) offer some combination of light arrangements (different combinations of on/off and sometimes dimming, nowadays technically speaking it's pretty easy to literally have every light in your room be on a different color, brightness setting and change it at the drop of a hat, or even gradually change it along with the exact level of daylight that's out there. Is this all gimmickry? (is that a word?)

 

Secondly, at what point should a lighting designer get involved? Would you have something helpful to contribute during the design phase of the house/rooms itself, or would you just work with what's there? For example I'm sure that you can do some funky things with walls, cornices, and during daytime the color of awnings, skylights..

 

Finally, many of us, I imagine, are on a budget. Of course the luxury of being able to afford your own home is nothing to complain about but if e.g. a lighting designer would cost me - say - more than 7000 they would be starting to rival an Architect (stage 1-3) .. I'm trying to work out if I can get a decent amount of advice at "somewhere below 5000" for the rooms I listed elsewhere - main living areas.. 

 

2 hours ago, Carrerahill said:

If you want, please PM me a copy or a link to your design and I will view it from a professional perspective and tell you if it basically is even a good design, compliant with recommended lighting levels - yes there are even recommended levels for domestic properties, but no one needs to follow them because domestic lighting is not regulated.

 

 

I don't need to PM, my current design is one 550lm smart(white spectrum wifi) downlight per sqm of ceiling space, what do you think! ;) 

More seriously -  I do hope at some point to have something a bit more concrete (although not sure if it's just my own design, or I can find someone to help..)  and might just take up on your kind offer. 

 

 

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On 28/11/2019 at 00:13, puntloos said:

Can you share your free design then? 😃

Would love to take a look...

I’m away at the moment (doing the Christmas shopping, I’m the Chief bag carrier!) but will share the design tonight when I get home. Watch this space, thanks for all the input so far.

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17 hours ago, Alex C said:

Yep, both down lights and 5a lighting circuits

A friend who converted a large barn had a living room that was open to the rafters and he installed a 5A lighting circuit in conjunction with wall lights. It suited him being able to have floor standing lights in the centre of the large room using floor sockets.

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