Light is essential for the functioning of our visual perception. What we see in the world around us is basically light reflected from the surface of various objects. Technology has chiseled a new destiny for man and reduced his dependency on nature. With the invention and evolution of lighting technology, a new era has begun, where artificial lighting has become an inseparable component of our lives and living. The technology of lighting has come a long way since the time when Sir Humphrey Davy (1802) invented the electric arch. Thomas Edison gave new dimension to this technology with his invention of the light bulb and it has grown in leaps and bounds ever since.
Lighting has graduated from serving merely a functional purpose to providing aesthetic value. Lighting is now not only essential for visual perception and orientation, but also for creating a certain mood and ambience that can be romantic, dramatic, subdued, subtle or natural depending on individual taste.
Lighting, when utilized efficiently, can define a focal point, create depth and meaning, provide a sense of harmony and accentuate the overall architectural charm, designs, art and style of a particular space. There can be different kinds of lighting for offices, industrial or commercial places, workstations, high-profile business rooms, interior lighting for kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms, and outdoor lighting for landscape, patio, pathways and street lighting.
In an office environment and in places where there is a concern for visual fatigue due to reflection caused by ordinary lighting, indirect lighting is preferred. Indirect lighting rebounds the light from the rooms surface before dispersing a soft and uniform light with reduced risk of glaring and shadowing. There may be different lights for particular tasks in workstations.
Indoor lighting and landscape lighting is equally challenging, as there are different criteria to be taken into account. It always helps to have a lighting plan based upon thorough research and an overview of the space requirements, structure and ambience, the various interesting focal points that can be accentuated or created by using different lighting techniques, budget constraints, types of lighting suitable for different spaces (indoor, outdoor, bedroom, kitchen or bathroom), etc.
A lighting plan generally uses three combinations of lighting needs. Accent lighting is used to highlight art works, specific focal points or special objects, or to guide occupants. In a small room, accent lights are sometimes sufficient. Task illumination is used to provide suitable lighting for different kinds of tasks, like hobbies, game boards, wet bars, study table, kitchens, office work stations, etc.
The amount and kind of light depends on the specific task requirement. Ambient lighting is used to for lighting a specific space and creating a suitable mood, and can be used for orientation and activity performance.