Designing With Light

The Art, Science, and Practice of Architectural Lighting Design
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  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.  I not only explain the important components of color such as color temperature and color rendition, but also discuss them as elements of perception and design.  I discuss 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.

Third, there are several major trends affecting the lighting design profession.  First among them are the phase-out of many incandescent lamps and the technologies that is replacing incandescence.  The worldwide emphasis on compact fluorescent and LED light sources requires students and practitioners to thoroughly understand these technologies, both their advantages and their shortcomings.  Next, the expanding and tightening of energy code legislation, which restricts the amount of power that can be allotted to lighting in commercial buildings, creates new design challenges.  Finally, I have included a chapter on light and health.  At this time, there are no regulatory requirements for lighting designers regarding protecting or promoting health through light and lighting design.  However, as ongoing research provides more information about the connection between the two, lighting designers will certainly have to be able to discuss the topic with clients and collaborators, and may choose or be required to integrate some of the research into their practice.  It is time to add this topic to lighting design education.

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.