Design Considerations
Last Update: November 8, 2010
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Light Distribution & Spaces

The job of the lighting designer is ultimately to use light to meet the needs of all of the stakeholders for the given application. As part of the design team, the discussions mold an aesthetic for the space – providing a template of materials, colors and textures; establishing conceptual themes and priorities for occupants regarding uniformity and wayfinding. This section offers insights and recommendations for the way in which a luminaire’s distribution can interact with and alter a space – thereby affecting the psychological and physiological response of occupants. 

Light Distribution on Surfaces
Technically, luminance thoroughly describes the visual scene and should be the primary design metric. The problem is, luminance is not easily measured and calculations are complex and time consuming.
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Surface Characteristics
Once limited to special buildings and projects, lighting techniques that reveal architectural nuance like texture enhance visual perception, and have become more commonly requested by building owners and architects.
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Intentional patterns can create visual hierarchies that assist wayfinding and orientation within a space. But considering the majority of basic lighting installations, luminaires cause light to fall onto room surfaces in somewhat random patterns.
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Points of Interest
It has been long recognized in retail and museum lighting design that the human eye is attracted to the brightest points, and in comparison, dark areas are hardly looked at.
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Sparkle (or Desirable Reflected Highlights)
Sparkle, small points of high brightness, and related reflected highlights have recently been recognized as essential elements of lighting design.
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Uniformity on Task Plane
Almost no lighting system provides completely uniform, even illumination. Early illumination engineering held out an ideal of perfectly uniform illumination on the task plane in a space.
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Distribution & Energy Effectiveness
The most energy effective placement of luminaires is either close to the task or to provide the most even distribution over the broadest coverage.
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Modeling Three-Dimensional Objects
In human vision, shadows and highlights enhance the perception of three dimensional forms. Both are the products of directional light sources.
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Space & Luminaires
In any design procedure, the appearance and style of the luminaire play a major role. Throughout the history of lighting, thousands of different types and styles of luminaires have been built. Architectural, interior design or landscape architecture issues typically limit luminaire choices to a particular style that is suitable for the project.
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