Posted By Tyler Dahl on 03/03/2018 in Lifestyle

Lights and Lighting: Create the Perfect Mood for Your Business

Lights and Lighting: Create the Perfect Mood for Your Business

This Article is Part Two of "Business Design Series"

What’s amazing to me is that something that’s seemingly so small (the concept of lighting) is incredibly not small.  If you examine and think about lighting you might think it to be simple.  However, without an expert eye you won’t be able to distinguish the nuances that come with lighting.  

There is a reason that there is a job in Hollywood called the “Lighting Designer”.  Their job is to create atmosphere, time of day, and mood for a particular “shot” in a movie.  Their job is basically to create mood from lighting.  These people make a living from knowing the ins and outs of lighting.  

What this means is that there is a lot more to lighting than you might think.  My job is to illuminate some of these nuances to you so that you can create the right mood for your business.


Understanding Lighting

To understand is to have power.  Once you understand lighting, you will know how you can apply it to create the perfect mood or atmosphere.  I have broken lighting down to its most simplified components so that you can get a better understanding. 


  • Distance from Subject + Size of Light Source = Softness / Hardness of Light

The easiest way that I can describe softness/hardness is through the idea of pencils.  If you have a really sharp pencil, you are going to have a very thin, and darkened line.  If you have a very dull pencil, you are going to have a much broader and lighter line that feels more soft. This is what hardness and softness of light is.  Lighting that casts shadows that have really sharp defined edges is hard lighting.  

Think of this as looking at your shadow on a really sunny day.  Soft lighting is lighting that casts shadows that have soft, broad edges.  Think of this as looking at your shadow on a really cloudy day.  Your shadow won’t be sharp; it will be diffuse.   Hard lighting will create a more intense emotion whereas soft lighting will create a more mellow emotion.  

So now that you know what hardness/softness is, how do you create either?  The hardness/softness of light is controlled by the distance of the light source from the subject in combination with the size of that light source.  A close and big light source will give a soft edge whereas a small distant light source will give a hard edge.


  • Color

Color is extremely underrated in creating an atmosphere.  Think about the lighting in casinos and night clubs.  They are designed to make you lose yourself/be caught up in the moment.  The easiest way that I can describe this to you is that if you cast a red light onto someone wearing red lipstick, you won’t be able to see the detail of the lipstick.  

This is an extreme case of the effect of color and you probably don’t want to go that extreme.  If you tone down the red light, you get a soft pink light that is soothing and adds a nice accent in the form of a soft pink light.  So my summary for this section is that you should go with a soft, large color light in most scenarios unless you are creating lighting for a bar/casino/nightclub. 


  • Angle of Lighting

The angle of lighting is huge with creating mood.  If you light someone up from below, they will appear creepy and mysterious.  Think flashlight and telling a scary story.  Additionally, if you have a light directly behind someone, it creates darkness and shadows on the face which is a very intense emotion.  If you have a light pointing directly at someone, it gives a sense of clarity and continuity for your eye which creates a straight-forward, comfortable emotion.  

For almost any business scenario, you will want to have lights that point down from above.  The exception being if you expect to have entertainment such as live music at your venue in which you might want to have some angled lighting to highlight the stage.


  • Intensity of Light

For intensity of light, don’t think of it as how bright one single light is.  Instead, think of it as the sum total of all the lights in an area.  On one end of the spectrum you have a lot of bright lights that sum total to creating a highly lit environment.  On the other end of the spectrum, you have a few dull lights that sum total to create a poorly lit lighting environment.  A high intensity environment will sharpen emotion and a low intensity environment will dull it.


Your Take-away

It’s hard to describe how to create mood without understanding these main concepts.  The problem with lighting is that there are a thousand ways to combine these main principles to create many different effects.  

Ultimately, your takeaway from this is that you need to guess and check.  If you don’t have the money to hire an interior designer, then you are going to have to play around with these concepts until you get the right one. 


Example How-To’s on Creating Mood

This section should give you an idea of how to combine concepts to create mood.


  • Meditative/Mellow Mood

To do this you have to: Have soft light that doesn’t dramatically emphasize points in the room.  Have one consistent color throughout the room.  Have low levels of light in the room (low intensity of light).  Have lights that are close to the subject.  Have large lights (think of a lamp). 

Summary: This will create a low intensity, soft lit area with no color emphasis that will encourage blankness in your mind.

  • Warm Mellow Mood

To do this you have to: Use lighting from the red end of the spectrum.  Have a few large, dull lights.  Have lights that are close to subjects.  Have large color lights at a side angle (not from the ceiling) that add a nice flattery to the room.

Summary: This will create a softly lit, warm room with low intensity that will make you feel very close with your emotions.

  • Warm Upbeat Mood

To do this you have to: Use lighting from the red end of the spectrum.  Have a good number of lights and make them further away from the subjects.  Decrease the size of the lights. 

Summary: This will create a warm, intense, hard lit area that gives a warm and alert feeling.


Author Spotlight

Tyler Dahl is a freelance writer and interior designer who has been writing for various design websites including interior design and graphic design for the last couple of years. In his free time, he loves spending time with his family and going camping.

Loudmouth Z Sandals

Loudmouth Z Sandals

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