The Art of Lighting

by Robin Muto on March 17, 2012

in Art and Design,Interior Design,Lighting Design

Lighting is an integral part of how a work of art tells its story.  Light is the supporting cast member to the art which is the star of the show.  The relationship between these two elements has a profound effect on how the art is experienced by the viewer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           There are many factors to consider when designing a lighting scheme for a collection.

  • Conservation
  • Flexibility
  • Style
  • Color
  • Budget
  • Energy

Conservation                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Certain materials are more susceptible to degradation, such as wood, textiles, leather and works on paper.  Light damage is irreversible and cumulative so if conservation is an issue, it is important to design the lighting to the recommended light levels thereby eliminating UV light and reducing exposure to lighting related heat emissions.

Flexibility                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ideally, the fixture selection should offer options to adapt to changing artwork.  The ability to fine-tune the lighting after it is installed is almost always required, even after extensive planning.  Track lighting offers the ultimate flexibility since track heads can be moved, added or removed from the track.  For a less obtrusive lighting system, we recommend a good quality recessed adjustable fixture that allows for the addition of accessories.  Some of these accessories can include glare reducing louvers and a variety of lenses that can soften or reshape the spread of light.

Style                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             In general, the best lighting for art should not be noticed; it should be transparent by drawing ones complete attention to the art.  But depending on the architectural surroundings, the addition of decorative light fixtures such as wall sconces or picture lights would be considered highly appropriate.  Aesthetics and scale of lighting equipment can either support or detract from the overall design of the space.

Color                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The incandescent / halogen light bulb is still the ‘gold standard’ in its ability to render colors to what we perceive as true.  The crisp, warm tone of this light source is still the preference.  As improvements are steadily made in lighting technology, especially LED’s, there is a growing acceptance in the use of slightly cooler, more neutral color of light.  In my experience, there are certain collections, typically modern works that are visually enhanced by using this neutral colored light source.

Budget                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  When it comes to design, there are no hard and fast rules.  It is not a question of right or wrong but more a question of the appropriateness of the design to achieve your goal.   Our experience in lighting design can offer guidance in finding the right solutions that match your expectations to your budget.  We can offer services from consultation to developing a comprehensive lighting and electrical plan.

Energy                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We believe that you do not need to sacrifice the quality of light to be energy efficient.  At my design firm, we have our finger on the pulse of the rapid changes in lighting technologies and the products available on the market.  A good lighting design is inherently energy efficient because it puts the light, precisely where you need it with the proper degree of brightness to bring out the beauty of your artwork.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: