Design is a Series of Decisions

a guest post by Lisa J. Reed, Lighting Designer

Design is a series of decisions

It is a good idea, when designing a lighting system, to determine the design priorities before starting the project.

Should I use LED? How many footcandles does the space require? Is dimming necessary? What color should the light be in this space? Does the color need to vary at different times of day? Should I use directional light? Indirect light? Volumetric light? What about glare on computer screens? Can I use daylight to reduce electric costs? How is the lighting going to be controlled? Should I use occupancy sensors or vacancy sensors?

We are bombarded with choices, so how do we determine which are the "right" choices for a particular project? Does cost or color rendering take priority? What about aesthetics vs. energy savings?

By establishing a hierarchy at the beginning of a project, those decisions are given a framework, making it easier to know the right decision to make throughout the design process. The hierarchy can simply be a list of needs, wants, and dreams. We all want to have our cake and eat it too, but not every project can "have it all."

For example, let’s say we are designing the lighting for a new office space.
Need: 30 footcandles at the work surface
Want: Daylight integration
Would be nice: Full dimming

The more thorough and specific a list is established at the start, the easier it is to make decisions as they come at you throughout the project. The trickiest part is anticipating all of the design priorities while balancing the "big three" issues that impact every project:

Design is a series of decisions

How do you handle the series of decisions when you are designing? Do you deliberately anticipate them at the start of the project, or do you handle them as they come at you?


Lisa J Reed photo - Lighting Blog

Lisa J. Reed has been attracted to lighting (like a moth to a flame) for 20+ years. She is the Founding Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC in St. Louis, where she designs, teaches, and writes about architectural lighting.


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