Take a moment to think about the space you are sitting in. How does it make you feel? Do you feel productive and energized, or are you feeling relaxed? Now, take a moment to look at the lighting in the space. How does the color of light appear? Is it an amber, warm glow or more of a white, bright light like daylight? How many fixtures are in the room? Is it a combination of fixtures such as in-ceiling downlights, wall sconces, table and/or floor lamps or is it one primary source of light? Would you consider the space to be adequately lit?
A well-lit space that enhances the environment and mood incorporates multiple layers of lighting. These layers include general lighting of a space, known as ambient lighting, task lighting providing ample lighting to achieve a task, focal lighting to draw attention to a specific feature or architectural element, and decorative lighting such as a beautifully crafted chandelier dangling in the grand foyer.
Additionally, energy output and dimming controls contributes greatly to the way a space is illuminated and how it can be manipulated. In today’s world of lighting, light emitting diodes (LED) light fixtures have made significant strides in supplying energy-efficient light sources. More and more projects are required by state and local codes to include a portion of LED fixtures within new construction projects.
A contracted lighting designer is trained to meet code requirements and design a well-crafted lighting design plan for residential construction. As Home Technology Professionals who specialize in sophisticated lighting control systems, we work closely with lighting designers to ensure interoperability between designated light fixtures and the lighting control system.
We recently connected with Rachel Calemmo, co-founder of Christian Rae Studio, and accredited LEED® and NCQLP Lighting Certified professional, and asked her a few questions about the importance of contracting a lighting designer and lighting control experts early on in a project. Here’s what we Rachel had to say:
Q [IEI]: To start, when a person is building or renovating their home, what would you consider to be the most important aspects of lighting to understand and be aware of in a lighting plan?
A [RC]: I came to the field of lighting design via interior design. For me, one of the most critical factors is visual acuity. This means rendering the colors and finishes in the space in a way that makes them come to life. I use light sources that have the highest color rendering index (CRI) possible and select a color temperature of the light that will complement the colors and textures in the space.
The lighting should also support the activities in the space at any given time. This means not only using the appropriate light sources, but also layering the light and varying the controls to suit the activities by time of day. Daylight provides bright, blue-rich light in the early morning to deliver an alerting signal as we wake up – but exposure to that same light at night can keep you up at night, and can make you feel groggy or irritable the next day. In the early evening, daylight provides a warm, low-level light to cue our bodies for a period of rest.
Circadian rhythms can be supported by using dynamic lighting features that LED lighting technology offers. It puts us in a position where we can now create personalized lighting to mitigate circadian disruption, optimize mood and visual experience, and improve our sense of wellbeing, in better ways than ever before.
Using these tools to design an overall lighting scheme makes our spaces feel more natural and comfortable places to live, dine, work and rest.
Q [IEI]: With so many manufacturers and light fixtures available in the marketplace, how does a lighting design help guide fixture specifications for a project and prove compatibility with a lighting control system?
A [RC]: Compatibility is the most critical factor in ensuring a successful lighting design. LED lighting requires more planning and coordination than any previous system of illumination. In order for LEDs to function properly, they need dimmers and drivers that speak their language so they do not create flicker, popping, strobing, early failure or dropping off. This level of specification is best done by partnering with lighting designers and integrators that can narrow down the wide range of fixture options and select the best possible fixtures that will not only complement the architecture and interior design, but will function smoothly.
Q [IEI]: What do you see as the core benefits of LED lighting over other technologies?
A [RC]: I am very excited about the benefits that LEDs offer us as designers and consumers because while they save us a tremendous about of energy and minimize maintenance, they also allow us to create more dynamic lighting environments. LEDs provide us more control over the tone of our white light while also allowing us to supplement with color. Now, we are not only restricted to one wall color in a space, but can dial up any color of a room by a flip of a switch or a voice command, if we so choose. Technologies such as warm-dim LEDs can mimic incandescent sources, while tunable white allows us to set our lighting to a schedule that matches the tone of daylight to enhance the circadian rhythms I mentioned earlier. RGBW (Red, Green, Blue & White) LEDs lets us play with all the tones of white light along with vibrant and pastel colors all coming from one fixture. LEDs have opened up a world of possibilities.
Q [IEI]: Why is it important for lighting designers to partner with lighting control system integrators early in the design and planning phase of a project?
A [RC]: As mentioned earlier, LED lighting and its control goes hand-in-hand. The vision of a design can only be realized when the proper fixtures are selected and coordinated between the architecture and the controls system. The process works best when a team of designers and integrators are communicating throughout the design and specification to be sure the project goals are being met and the end user will have a space that is comfortable, intuitive and easy to maintain.
Q [IEI]: How does a lighting control system integrator complete a lighting designer’s vision?
A [RC]: In order to take full advantage of the benefits LED offer, controls integration is key. The ability of our lighting to be personalized and intuitive is controls-based. In order to have smooth dimming to a low level in intimate spaces or to follow daylight rhythms in our living spaces, requires complex scheduling and controls. These complex lighting scenes can be quite simple for the homeowner to use once the proper integration and planning is in place. This is why it is critical to not only have the proper fixtures selected by the designer for look and feel, but to have it controlled and programmed by the integrator to have it function to its full potential. We work as a team with the end user to create spaces that have benefits from well-being to visual acuity and enjoyment of our built environment.
About Racel Calemmo LC, LEED®, AP
Lighting Designer, Rachel Calemmo, orchestrates light, color, materials and space to create visually appealing environments which ease the demands of modern life and rejuvenate the soul. An Interior Design graduate of Philadelphia University, Rachel engages all aspects of project design, construction, and management. Her commitment to the total design experience led her to specialize in lighting. She earned the Lighting Certified (LC) designation after successfully completing the NCQLP Lighting Certification Examination. Her technical skills enable her to complete each design challenge from conception to final installation; resulting in projects representing a broad range of scale, scope, and budget consideration. Rachel is also a LEED® Accredited Professional who designs each project to a high standard balancing aesthetic expectations and energy efficiency due to the important role energy consumption and cost plays in an overall building life cycle.
About Christian Rae Studio
Christian Rae Studio, LLC was established in 2010 as collaboration between Rachel and Christian Calemmo. Christian is a licensed architect in Connecticut and New York. Rachel is an interior designer and certified lighting designer (LC). She is also a LEED accredited professional. Our firm is located in Southport, CT and we have worked on projects in Connecticut, Westchester County, New York City and beyond. Our combined technical and creative skills enable us to complete each design challenge from conception to final installation and our project types represent a broad range of type, scale and budget considerations. Each of our projects is unique. Therefore, we focus our attentions on listening to our clients so that we can deliver a product that is not only beautiful and functional but also tailored to your specific needs and requests. We insist on providing detail and quality that is evident through our drawings and project management. The collaboration between multiple disciplines in our studio is an approach that results in a holistic and integrated project. Our goal is to make the design process a thoroughly enjoyable experience for our clients.
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