When creating a design, it’s very important for lighting designers to see how the space is going to be used. That means we need a furniture plan, understanding whether it’s residential or commercial. A lighting layout for empty space is at best generic. It is hard to enhance what we can’t see. It doesn’t have to be the final selection of furniture, but we do need to see where the pieces will be placed in where potential art will be located. Here is a good example: If I were shown an empty dining room, the natural instinct would be to center a chandelier or a pendant in the room. If a buffet or a console is placed on one wall, then the dining room table gets pushed off-center. This means that the decorative fixture will not be centered over the table, which means an added expense for moving the junction box.
We need to see door swings to make sure that switches, dimmers, or control panels do not end up behind the door as you are entering a room. If the door swing gets changed during construction then the lighting designer, as a part of the team, needs to be given that information so that they can update the layout. This happens more often than you think. For example, say an interior designer decides to put a big armoire on a wall and needs the door to be flipped so that it doesn’t hit the piece of furniture as people enter. If that information doesn’t get to the lighting designer, then the controls end up on the wrong side of the door’s swing.
Additionally, we need to see elevations and reflective ceiling plans so that beams, skylights, HVAC systems, sprinkler heads, ceiling heights, window heights, and door heights are taken into account. All of these are essential in creating a lighting plan that integrates seamlessly with the other architectural elements.
Bottom line is that well-integrated lighting adds to the visual experience of the space, allowing the architectural elements, the art…and especially the people to be the center of attention.