Office lighting tips

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:22 pm

  • Never directly light into the line of sight when you’re entering a building or stairs. "It’s not inviting you in, and it’s disabling you at the threshold," says Klein. "You’d be amazed at how many retail stores are like that – lights just aimed at the entry." As a practical solution, Klein and Howard recommend focusing on the first vertical wall a customer or client encounters when entering the space. The wall is a good place to locate a company logo and draws people into it. "It’s a focal point so somebody knows where to go," Howard says.
  • Light in layers. There are at least three: ambient, task and accent (wall washing).
  • Use accent lighting. Accent lighting is not used to over-stimulate but to identify and bring in a sense of quality that people can see because the entry into a space is important. "People draw really fast conclusions when they walk through a front door, so the way to organize the impression is to interpret it with lighting," Klein says.
  • Don’t use parabolic 2×4 lighting fixtures in entryways or waiting areas. These are the types of fixtures using louvers that from a distance cut off the brightness of the light, but if seated below them – as in a waiting room – you can see right into the compartment. "But more than that, when you use a louver or a cut-off style of fixture in a waiting area, it’s creating a shadow line around the perimeter walls," Klein says. "One should avoid doing that at all costs because it makes the space feel smaller, it makes it look like the ceiling is lower," Howard adds.
  • A common mistake is using the wrong temperature light based on the colors used in the space. "Using a good color-rendering light in a poor application can flatten the space just as surely as a poor color-rendering lamp could," Klein says. "The idea is to select the lamp-color temperature based on the color of the interior of the space."
  • When choosing desking systems, don’t necessarily accept the task light offered by the desking system’s manufacturer. The desk light is usually an accessory of the furniture system rather than being an instrument to see well. "Task lighting can be even more disabling than lousy ambient light because it’s so much closer to the actual task," Klein says.
    — Susan Nord

    March 29, 2002 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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