As part of our Lobby Lighting feature, darc’s Editor Sarah Cullen sits down with Fanny Englund, Lighting Designer at Light Bureau, to discover the key to successfully illuminating a beautiful lobby space.
Opening the discussion on lobby lighting, Englund went into the main considerations to undertake when approaching a new lobby lighting project. “A lobby for a business building needs to be representative of the company; what is the company image?” she explains. “The lighting design should contribute to that, of course in close collaboration with the architecture and the interior design. Generally, a lobby should be inviting and support social interactions. The light should help people orientate and to find their way further in the building. The lobby is often visible from the outside and therefore works like a display window for the building or company. The lighting and the space therefore must work well both during day and night,” she says.
When it comes to choosing which fixtures will be most suited to the space, Englund explains that the lobby needs to “stand out” in some way, whether that’s using decorative fixtures, dynamic installations or a higher level of materials and design. “Since you spend a limited amount of time in a lobby, it is often possible to work with higher contrast between light and dark, or with colours, to create an exciting place that attracts people.
“Lighting and the fixtures used always needs to support the design of the space and the company or building image. Sometimes the best way to light a lobby can be to use only hidden fixtures and let the light enhance materials and other design elements,” she tells darc.
Looking specifically at the benefits of using decorative pieces in the large space, Englund highlights that a lobby is the perfect location to experiment and create unique light installations. “Decorative lighting is often a very important part of a lobby design and needs extra attention to make sure that the model of the fixture is the right choice for that particular space. A lobby is a perfect place to create a unique light installation, tailor-made for the space. The decorative lighting element in a lobby is key to attracting people since it is often visible from far away, and really helps to set the atmosphere. It is also important to inhabit the space and make it more inviting for social interactions due to the more human scale it gives.
“When choosing a decorative fixture, I always work in close collaboration with the client and the interior designer to get a good understanding of the design intentions before making any suggestions,” continues Englund. “I work with visualisations or reference images to show my intentions. If it’s possible, we evaluate the fixture by looking at it together live. I use 3D models or sections to make sure the scale of the fixture fits the space in a good way.”
Looking at the relationship between the decorative and architectural lighting in a lobby project, Englund explains how the architectural fixtures are used to set the general atmosphere in the lobby. “It should enhance the materials and the spatiality of the room. The decorative fixtures set the important finishing touch to the space and define the design. Architectural and decorative lighting of course must complement each other, so you need to plan it as one complete solution.”
When asked about how to balance the correct light levels in such a vast space, Englund explains how they are not at the forefront of design details. “Due to the importance of the design intentions in a lobby, the light levels are not in focus. Still, you should be able to see well and find your way in the space comfortably. I work a lot with light on walls and other vertical elements to make the space feel bright even without a lot of light, and to facilitate orientation. When needed I make light calculations or mock-ups to verify that the light will be good. Lobbies should also have a control system to make it possible to dim the light up or down if needed, and to set different light scenes adapted to day – or night-time, or different events.
“The use of automatic and dynamic light scenarios, liquid light, is something that can fit well in a lobby, both for unique light installations and for the general lighting. This will create an exciting environment and at the same time reduce the energy consumption.”