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Illuminating Advice on Lighting

Written by Karen Marley
Imagery by Robert Sonneman

It is the source of our energy, a primary regulator of our circadian rhythms, and the reason we can see the world. It, of course, is light. When we bring it into our home, it becomes open to artistry, ultimately influencing our moods and rendering our home’s spaces functional and inviting … or not.
Sonneman –  A Way of Light is a premier, modern lighting design studio based in Larchmont, New York. Robert Sonneman, CEO and Lead Designer with five decades of experience, is known for his award-winning clean lines, innovative approaches and functionalist lighting designs. His studio is a go-to resource for the architecture and design community.
    When it comes to lighting, Sonneman elaborates on four key considerations:

1. Theme, scale, and proportion are generally part of the vision of the architect or designer. Achieving the illuminated perception and utility is the task of the professional lighting designer. We are trained in the science, technology and application as well as the performance and control of lighting and luminaires. Each of these plays a role.

2. Color temperature refers to the blue to red shift in color ranging from almost red (2,000 K) to the blue whiteness of 6,000 K. The comfort level for most living situations is around 2,700 – 3,000 K. Although there is a growing trend toward the cooler 4,000 K in spaces such as baths or kitchens. Today, LEDs offer a broad range of variable control including color temperature and brightness levels, along with range of the beam and spread of light. The latest technologies offer warm dimming, allowing adjustability of warm to cooler color temperature and tunable white that adjusts brightness while maintaining color temperature.

3. Sconces versus pendants is a choice between top light versus side light. It’s a selection based on the application that often uses both types to bring balance to a situation such as hallways, dining rooms and living rooms. In general, use what you need functionally then add support with sconces to achieve ambient lighting.

4. Balancing function with decoration is a perennial challenge. You see what you light; making illumination a universally essential element in any space. It defines visibility, color, form and the emotional response to an environment.

The right lighting is as critical as any other decorative or architectural element. A professional lighting designer can help you distribute light throughout a space to create levels and zones of illumination for utility, comfort, and perception. 

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