Recently, my wife and I had the “pleasure” of visiting a relatively new hospital complex. For almost a year, I watched the 5-story edifice being built as I traveled up and down Highway 49 in Northwest Arkansas.

The Intrinsic Value of Decorative Lighting in Commercial Spaces

Steve Maurer, IME
Recently, my wife and I had the “pleasure” of visiting a relatively new hospital complex. For almost a year, I watched the 5-story edifice being built as I traveled up and down Highway 49 in Northwest Arkansas.

Once the exterior was complete and interior construction began, I observed decorative lights illuminating each floor's staircase. Their blue glow offered a warm, inviting ambiance, even though I opted for the elevator.

We’ve made several visits to the complex, now that it’s finished. And instead of the cold, antiseptic feel of many older medical facilities, this one is quite different. It almost has a high-end hotel look and atmosphere. Probably in keeping with the high-end medical bills generated, LOL.

Along with the roaring gas fireplace, various wooden shadow boxes showcased birds from around Arkansas. And they were all lit beautifully with decorative lighting. In fact, decorative lighting was all around the facility, soothing your nerves for the appointment ahead.

Lighting design in commercial spaces conveys atmosphere and more
Lighting design in commercial or even residential environments often involves a combination of both decorative and architectural lighting. Proper design creates spaces that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing and inviting.

Let’s look at both decorative and architectural lighting design.

Decorative lighting in lighting design
Decorative lighting serves as a key component in setting the mood or style of a space. It helps create a specific ambiance and can serve as a focal point within the room. For instance, a designer might use an elegant chandelier in a hotel lobby to create a sense of grandeur, or use stylish pendant lights over a restaurant bar for a modern, sophisticated look.

The shapes, colors, and materials of decorative lighting fixtures are chosen to complement the overall design theme of the space. They can add contrast, create harmony, or offer a surprising element within the design.

Architectural lighting in lighting design
Architectural lighting is integral to the design process as it contributes significantly to the functionality of the space and its aesthetic appeal. Designers use architectural lighting to highlight specific architectural features, define different zones within the space, provide necessary illumination for tasks, or create an overall ambiance.

For instance, wall washing can highlight texture and color on a large surface, while accent lighting can draw attention to artwork or other features. Also, by incorporating natural light sources, designers can create a more comfortable and energy-efficient environment.

A comprehensive lighting design plan
These two types of lighting are often used together. A space could use architectural lighting for general brightness and feature enhancement, complemented by decorative fixtures to enrich the design theme and boost visual appeal.

For example, in a high-end retail store, recessed architectural lighting might be used to provide even, general illumination and spotlight specific products, while decorative pendant lights or wall sconces are used to create a sense of luxury and style.

Similarly, in a modern office, architectural lighting could be used to provide task lighting over workstations and ambient lighting in common areas. Decorative fixtures in break areas or meeting rooms add a touch of style and personality.

In essence, the chemistry of architectural and decorative lighting in design allows for spaces that are both functional and visually appealing. This fulfills the practical needs of the space while also creating a unique and inviting atmosphere.

Uh oh. My name just got called.

Time to roll up my sleeve … ouch!
Photo courtesy of Alcon Lighting
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