Professional Lighting Design transforms every building project

Why is Professional Lighting Design the Secret Weapon for Your Project?

We’ve all been there. Walking into a room and feeling something is just…off. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but the atmosphere feels flat, uninspiring, yet the room is adorned with expensive fixtures and fittings.

More often than not, it’s not about the furniture or the colour and texture of the walls; it’s the lighting. Here, professional lighting design becomes the magic wand that fixes the space, brings the space back to life. So why is it so many designers get lighting wrong?

Consider this: lighting is everywhere. It’s not just about illuminating a room or space. Professional lighting design is about creating a mood, enhancing safety, and even boosting productivity. In the hands of a trained lighting professional, both artificial and natural light transform into the most powerful and versatile tools in architecture and design.

So why is it so many designers get lighting wrong?

Now, you might be thinking, “Why do I need a professional lighting designer? Can’t my architect or electrician handle that?” While most electricians are good at what they do, lighting design is a different ball game. It requires specialized training and a keen eye for aesthetics.

Similarly, architects and interior designers are rarely trained in lighting design, so they may not fully understand the intricacies of professional lighting design, so even though they think they know what they’re doing, they usually fall short of the mark. Please understand this is not an intended attack on architects, it’s like asking your GP to perform heart surgery – they’re both doctors, but they have different skills.

In New Zealand I only know one university that teaches lighting design as part of its architecture degree, and when I asked the head of an architecture school at an Auckland based University why this was the case he didn’t have an answer.     

Why Hire a Professional Lighting Designer?

So, what’s the big deal about hiring a lighting designer? Let’s break it down. 

Design for Functionality

Functionality: Imagine trying to chop veggies for dinner under a dim light, squinting, and hoping for the best. Not ideal, right? A lighting designer ensures that your lights are not just decorative but functional and task orientated. There’s a balance to be considered between function and mood, usually performed by different lighting fittings, performance, and placement. Lighting designers use certain design principals and science to strategically place lighting elements where you need them the most, making your life easier and safer. 


Speaking of safety, good lighting is crucial to prevent accidents. A well-lit staircase, bathroom, or kitchen can save you from a nasty fall. A lighting designer knows the key areas that need special attention, ensuring every corner of your space is safe. 


Have you ever noticed how a stunning piece of art can look drab under poor lighting? A lighting designer uses light to enhance the beauty of your space, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. They can make your home or office not just a place to live or work, but a place to experience. Lighting designers will consider light rendering capabilities, illumination intensity, and colour temperature, all important aspects to achieve balance and style. They will also consider your furniture plan and decorative elements, enhancing key interior design elements and bringing out the true mood of your space. I see too many restaurants with poor lighting. One of my friends who has been in the design industry for decades will not go to certain restaurants because she feels the light washes her skin out, makes her feel uncomfortable. That’s lost revenue for the restaurant because they undercooked their lighting.  

Energy Efficiency

Besides making your space look amazing, a lighting designer can also help you save energy and money. By incorporating natural light, energy-efficient products, and sensors, lighting designers can control when additional light is needed and when it is not. They help reduce your energy consumption and carbon footprint. 

But it doesn’t stop there. A professional lighting designer brings to the table a concept called layered lighting. They create a neutral palette of light, then add key elements to bring the room to life. It’s like painting with light. Every layer adds a new dimension, a new emotion. 

Also, a good lighting design is not just about the quantity of light; it’s about the quality. Factors like colour rendering, consistency of white, glare control, and efficiency all come into play. It’s this attention to detail and expertise that makes a lighting designer an invaluable asset to your project. Have you ever driven by a house with too bright landscape lighting and thought it was an eyesore? This is yet another example of when lighting goes wrong. And my favourite, the placement of a single light in the middle of the room, is an awful practice we see far too often. It’s not the ’50s, people. 

So, the small investment of hiring a good lighting designer can reap many rewards. It’s about creating a space that is not just aesthetically pleasing but functional, comfortable, and energy-efficient. Whether you’re an architect, designer, builder, electrician, or property developer, consider the significant difference a lighting designer can make to your project’s success. 

Professional Lighting Design Pays For Itself

Most professional lighting designers have good relationships with lighting suppliers and can get you good volume discounts. Try and use one or maybe two architectural lighting suppliers maximum on each project, and then maybe more decorative lighting suppliers if you need them. The architectural lighting is the area where you can save most because that’s where the volume purchasing is. 

Remember, lighting is not just about seeing; it’s about experiencing. And a professional lighting designer knows how to make that experience magical. So, the next time you’re planning a building project, don’t leave your lighting to chance. Bring in the experience of a good lighting designer at the beginning of your conceptual design phase and watch them take your projects to the next level. You won’t regret it.

Learn more about professional lighting design, visit Project Lighting Australasia here.

Visit Project Lighting Australasia in the Build Source directory here.