Lighting design tips for public areas

Side-lighting can be used to emphasize architecture behind front-desk kiosks.

This is part two of a three-part series on lighting design in hospitality. Click here for part two: LEDs are now easier to use, increase utility.

Dynamic lighting can also be effective in other public spaces such as the hotel lobby. According to Jan Vingerhoets, CEO of lighting design firm Flos USA, improvements in lighting control systems have made it easier for hotels to manage multiple lighting options across multiple spaces.

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Despite the ease of use for these new systems, Vingerhoets recommends having a dedicated lighting designer to manage them to ensure high quality.

“Changes in color should be managed and curated well to avoid beautifully designed areas looking bad because somebody with poor taste happens to have control of the unit,” Vingerhoets said.

Kay Lang, principal in charge of Kay Lang + Associates, suggests using backlighting to decorate hotel registration desks, such as placing glass panels behind a desk to be back- or side-lit using LEDs.

“Decorative lighting in front of architecture, such as a stone wall, can be used to illuminate a choice area,” Lang said. “The lights themselves should be concealed so as not to compete with the soft architecture of the wall.”

Lang is also using projections as dynamic art pieces in public areas, with lowered costs in projection equipment as a driver in brand interest. “Hotels want to create multifunctional designs that are not just one mood, and with more settings than simply day and night,” Lang said. “Changing the lighting design on a wall can renew a wall without construction, and interest in this is growing more and more as lighting and construction design go hand in hand.”

Nick Albert, design director for Illuminate, said the lobby area can present a challenge for mood lighting design, as the lobby represents a gateway space that is often static from one hotel to another within a brand.

“Hotels use that space primarily to convey brand identity, and it is hard to embed change into a space that requires consistency of presence,” Albert said. “The key is to create vibrancy and excitement in spaces adjacent to the lobby, and key the lobby in as an activation space whose design doesn’t grow tired over time.”