Beginners' guide to light layers in Interior Design - part 2

| Martina Pardo | Interior Design Tips

Hello Everyone! Two weeks ago, I talked about the importance of layering light sources. In case you missed it, you can check the article here!
We've seen the difference between the three layers: AMBIENT, TASK, and ACCENT. Today I'd like to show you some applications of these principles through the projects and concepts we developed. Don't forget that while the majority of our projects are student accommodations and for these, we design both private and communal areas, lighting layers principles should be applied in the same way even in private houses or retail spaces, depending on your specific goal.

Ambient lighting: the general overall lighting that every room needs.

As examples of ambient lighting, here are some communal spaces, such as study rooms or lounge areas for PBSAs. The three examples below come from different projects.

The first photo below is the West Hampstead PBSA reception in London. Here too are two examples of ambient lighting. One is the light spots above the reception area and on the mezzanine corridor that can be seen in the top left of the picture where large round pendants light up the more open areas as well.

west hampstead reception

The Garden Studios accommodation Cinema room includes only ambient lights with spots regularly spread on the ceiling.

cinema room

In shared kitchens too, like this one in Wembley, we used light spots for overall ambient lighting.

shared kitchen

Task lighting: intense direct lighting to some areas where you need to fulfill a task.

We used task lighting in every situation that required it for specific activities. Naturally, designing student accommodations, the private room desks' lighting was the first we thought about. This is the Rock Student Accommodation in the Netherlands where we used some stylish minimal desk lamps for the students' rooms.

rock task lighting

The second place where we specified task lightings are the kitchens' hoods, whether in shared kitchens or studio flats.

task lighting

In the following concept for the bedrooms' desks, we used a different solution. Like it usually happens in kitchens, we added an LED stripe, this time above the desk, for study.

stuttgart bedroom

Accent lighting: it helps to balance the overall lighting and creating the atmosphere.

We tried to get creative with accent lighting. And we had a great opportunity in gyms and game rooms. Let's see some examples.

The first one is a fun sign we added to the student accommodation Gym concept. One interesting point here is, that we never used actual Neon lights, but went for neon-looking LED signs, which are a more sustainable choice, being way more energy-efficient.

gym accent lighting

We did something similar with this gaming room concept design. Used a different kind of signs to add some personality and playfulness to the room.

game stop room

Finally, for this private dining room instead, we added some simpler yet effective accent lighting. The table lamp on the media unit, while not carrying out specific functions, helps to make the space feel more homely and warmer.

tawny pdr

While in these three examples accent lights have a similar application, don't forget that they can also be used to highlights details, art pieces, or any other interesting feature of the space you're designing.

How do we mix them?

With the proper lighting design, you'll have these layers mixed in the same room to meet various needs. So let's see a few examples. The first is the Clay Studios in Berlin. This TV lounge and game area features all three layers of lighting. All three have an aesthetic function while also carrying out specific ones. The two pendants work as ambient lights, while the floor lamp beside the TV is a task light for reading while relaxing. Finally, on the wall to the right of the entrance, there's a neon-like LED signage, which has no specific function except for an aesthetic one, so it falls under the accent lighting group.

clay loung room

This second render below instead is the quiet study room of Bristol student accommodation. This one includes light spots on the ceiling as well as task lighting above all the study tables both regular ones and by the windows.

study room

The third one instead is a photo of our first interior. The Zernike project in the Netherlands. Like for the Clay Studios render above, all three layers of light are present in this one. Ambient lighting is added through the high pendants on the ceilings and the spots in the corridor of the double-height. Then, the lower pendants above the counter can also serve as task lights, either for activities at the bar, or study. Finally, there is an LED neon-like sign for accent lighting, as in Germany.

zernike communal area

I hope this was helpful. Now it's your turn to restyle your home lighting! Have you got all the layers in the right place? Let me know in a comment here or on social media!

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Martina Pardo

Written by: Martina Pardo

I am Martina, an Italian designer based in London. I spend most of my time designing interiors or writing about it. I also love travelling. You may find me walking around the East End of London, drinking coffee and stopping at every single bookshop I bump into.

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