Get the Lighting absolutely right for your home

Ever wondered what the basic necessities of our life are? Is it food? Water? Shelter? Clothing? Power? The list can vary according to the person drawing it up. But whoever draws up this list, there is only a remote possibility that they will include ‘Light’ as one of the basic necessities of the life.

The reasoning could be quite straightforward. Light is not a big consideration during day time and at nights, all we need is electricity. Flick that switch and you have light. So what’s big deal about it?

But ask Kunal Shah, Principal Lighting Designer at SPK Valo Design Consultants, Hyderabad, and he would say that world as we know is because of light and its effects.

Scientific studies have proved over and again that light, in all its variants, has a huge impact on both physical and mental health.

“It is the light that governs the body and helps us to maintain a healthy rhythm,” Mr.Shah explains. Jet lags and health problems resulting due to extreme climates, like extended days and nights, are an example of such effects, he points out.

Light can also be used as a potent power, Shah warns. In the pre-industrial society human productivity was limited only to day time. It was only after the induction of artificial lighting that the full potential of industrial production was unleashed and productivity zoomed with inclusion of more hours, he says.

But that is not all. Light also creates the perception of space and helps us to feel the depth and expanse of an area or landscape.

Lighting design is dependent on the ambient luminescence and this governs our perception of space, Mr. Shah explains. The focal glow (in simpler terms – brightness of light) gives context to a place and helps attract our attention to certain aspects thus creating a hierarchy, he says.

“Consider a hall adorned with paintings, if we place even lighting throughout the hall the effect would be different. In this context all aspects of the hall like paintings, furniture, electrical appliances and people receive same attention. But if you want to create a better impression, one should go for a different model,” he explains.In such a situation, one should opt for a lighting pattern that highlights the most important artefacts in the hall. In this way one can create a sense of hierarchy and increase the ambient atmosphere, he points out.

The artificial lighting was exhibited for first time in 1900 World Expo at Paris and since then the lighting technologies have come a long way and one has many options now.

Currently there is a debate about using LED lights instead of traditional incandescent bulbs or fluorescent tubes, but to achieve a perfect blend of lighting, usage of all types of lighting is necessary, he says.

LED lights alone cannot create the sufficient ambient lighting and just putting up tube lights is certainly not a very good way of lighting one’s house, he explains. Like sound and air pollution there is ‘Light Pollution‘ that is caused by the usage of wrong type of lighting and one should not forget this, he points out.Without enough lighting one can slip into depression and excess light can disturb our body rhythm (governed by Circadian Clock) so one has to understand the importance of using right type of lighting for an occasion, Mr.Shah advises.“We need to keep in mind that lighting plays an important role in our lives and should use different types of lamps, shades and even sun light and shadows to ‘Light up’ one’s house and get best out of our time,” he adds.

Kunal Shah was delivering a lecture ‘Thinking with Light’ organised by Indian Institute of Interior Designers (Hyderabad Chapter) in the city.

This article was published in The Hindu’s supplement ‘Habitat’ on February 02, 2013


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