Designing With Light

The Art, Science, and Practice of Architectural Lighting Design, 2nd Edition
by Jason Livingston

Quality lighting design is a critical component of any architectural space.  While businesses, institutions and individuals are all demanding better lighting, the challenges for designers, from keeping up with new technologies to complying with energy efficiency laws, are multiplying.  It’s a struggle for an active professional to stay up to date, and even more difficult for educators to find a textbook that is current, relevant, and focused on design.  Designing with Light: The Art, Science and Practice of Architectural Lighting Design, 2nd Edition  does this from a unique perspective.

First, I emphasize design as a multi-pronged process.  All lighting textbooks identify the functional components of lighting design such as appropriate illumination for tasks, balance of task and background brightness, and providing a pleasing environment.  I take a  more expansive view and ask the reader to consider the practical requirements of lighting design, the aesthetic role of lighting in an architectural space , and the artistic the use of light to create a design that is more complex and nuanced.  This is the approach I take in my own work, where the first question I ask is not, “What are the visual tasks?” but “How should this space look and feel?”

Second, I give great emphasis to the topic of color.  Chapter 9 covers the science of color, including standard observers, color spaces, color temperature, and color rendering.  I also uss related psychological and physiological topics, such as color constancy, and the cultural connotations of color to give the reader a thorough understanding of color and color perception.  Chapter 10 covers the use of color with sections such as Selecting CCT, Using TM-30, and Designing with Color.

Third, from my perspective, the lighting design challenges students need to be prepared for include a fuller and more nuanced understanding of color rendering, the broadening use of colored LEDs and the associated need to understand color science, the impact of light on health and wellness which includes circadian entrainment but is starting to go beyond that and encompass other areas as well, and UV-C disinfection.  All of these topics require science to inform them, understanding of science to apply them, and evidence-based guides to ensure that they are being implemented effectively and safely. The world is asking more of lighting designers (without a commensurate increase in fees, unfortunately), and I see more and more designers layering these subjects on top of the traditional foundation of illuminance, aesthetics, and energy efficiency.

That’s not to say there won’t be a place for the designer focused on aesthetics.  People will always want to have beautiful surroundings, but the way we understand and solve some aesthetic challenges, such as color rendering, is expanding and changing. I find it simultaneously exciting to always be learning new things and frustrating that I always have to be learning new things.

Finally, I am interested in history and know that others are, too.  I have included a brief introductory background on many topics to give the readers a historical perspective and introduce them to the pioneers and discoverers that lead to today’s profession.

Read the Table of Contents.