Layers of light to consider when lighting a home’s living room

Saladie Lighting Projects

A living room is the part of the house where light layering is essential. While the other rooms are normally used for specific tasks like cooking, sleeping or showering, the living room where people spend most of their personal or family life, and engage in a wide range of activities that depend on the time of day or their habits and customs. Since this multi-purpose room is usually the largest in the house, it is essential to ensure it has carefully planned, flexible lighting that takes into account the different layers of light – general, task and accent – and that you can adapt it to each way that the room is used.

One good strategy before starting to design the lighting is to ask yourself the following questions: How is the living room going to be used? Is it going to be used for reading, social activities, watching TV, or relaxing on the sofa? Is it going to have a study area for working on a computer? Is it going to include also a dining area? Is it going to open onto the kitchen?

Let’s look at lighting strategies that make a living room work and come alive in each of these cases.

AlsinaSech Lighting Projects
AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

First layer: ambient lighting

If the underlying idea is that a living room is normally used for relaxing, it is important to design an ambient lighting system that provides a light backdrop to the room.

LED strip lights are an excellent tool for creating this first general lighting layer, especially for a cosy indirect lighting effect. Hidden in recesses, in decorations on false ceilings or walls, or even on top of tall furniture, LED strip lights provide an indirect, discreet and effective general light. Installing lights on cornices or in perimeter mouldings brings great results because all the light is directed towards the ceiling, which reflects it and creates an extraordinarily even ambient light. This kind of lighting is the ideal base on which to add the other layers of light for each kind of activity.

Saladie Lighting Projects

Second layer: reading and watching television

The best option for reading is to put decorative reading luminaires, especially floor and swivel lights, mere sofas or armchairs. Their bright, focused light creates a cosy atmosphere in which to enjoy a good book.

Watching TV or working at computer are other activities that people do every day in their living rooms and which call for almost the opposite type of lighting. TV and computer screens give off their own light, so you should avoid an overly dark environment so as not to tire your eyes too much. Yet the room’s lighting should not conflict with the screen, either by reflecting off it or generating a glare. Again, using indirect lighting solutions is the best way to solve both issues, avoiding any glare on the screen while reducing eyestrain at the same time. To ensure the solution is really flexible, the lighting should be dimmable so that you adjust its intensity.

Another more specific solution for watching TV is to place strip lighting behind the TV set, ideally using a colour temperature changing or RGBW LED strip. This helps to create a pleasant atmosphere while increasing visibility around the screen by providing the ideal level of contrast.

Iluminacion viviendas lineales led
Punto Luz

Third layer: accent lighting for social activities

Living rooms are usually where friends and family meet and get together, and often include a dining area, where lamps hanging over the dining table often take centre stage.

When it comes to socialising, accent lighting is key. This kind of lighting is often used to highlight artwork, family photos, bookshelves, plants, architectural details or anything that adds value and personality to the space and deserves to be highlighted.

There are numerous techniques for generating accent and contrast, whether through downlights, swivel spotlights or LED strip lights. Some of the best ways of using strip lighting is as a light source to illuminate pictures or to highlight the texture and material of a vertical wall with grazing light or wallwashing. Also, when they are built into furniture like shelves or bookcases. In the latter case, you need to think about how to build the lights into the item of furniture, and the types of shapes and optics, as the different combinations can produce totally different effects: from diffuse frontal lighting in a bookcase, to 45-degree angle accent lighting to illuminate decorative objects, to backlighting to highlight translucent or transparent elements such as bottles or crystal glasses.

The solution of integrating lighting into furniture, as a general kind of accent lighting, is also often used as a visual connecting element in kitchens that open up onto a living room. These cases call for more sophisticated lighting effects, especially when highlighting materials and finishes or transition areas to the living room, to “ennoble” the kitchen’s lighting language.

Punto Luz

Yet since living rooms are used in so many ways and laid out so differently, it is not only important to work with layers of light, but also to consider how they interact with each other. A basic approach would be to organise the circuits and lighting rationally, considering the different ways in which the space is used. The next step would be to implement a control system to make the layered lighting as flexible as possible and make the lighting of each different scenario easier to manage.

But if you need more advice on how to build LED strip lighting into your project, just contact us at info@lluria.com, and we will be happy to help you find the best solution.

Interview with Josep Maria Aixut of Aixut Interiorisme

Josep Maria Aixut

He is passionate about interior architecture. He never goes out without a paper and pencil in his pocket, his head is abuzz with ideas and he needs to be ready when inspiration strikes. He considers himself lucky. Since he started making photocopies at the age of 7 in his father’s interior design studio, he has not stopped doing what he likes the most: transforming spaces to make them beautiful and functional.

Aixut Interiorisme has been dedicated to interior architecture for more than 30 years. How would you define the studio’s professional career?

Aixut Interiorisme is a family business that was founded by my father and a partner under the name Aixut Alvarado. Since they both retired, it has continued under my creative direction and that of my wife, who is in charge of all the administrative part.

Aixut Interiorisme
Sala espera Hotel Brisa. Sant Antoni de Portman, Ibiza.

Would you say you have a recognizable style?

I suppose so, many of my clients can recognize the projects we work on. Despite the fact that our work philosophy implies adapting to the tastes and needs of our clients without ever repeating ourselves, in the end it is almost inevitable that we leave our personal mark. We carry out numerous works on the island of Ibiza and, as it is such a limited territory, we consider it essential never to develop two identical projects.

Aixut Interiorisme
Sala lectura Hotel Brisa. Sant Antoni de Portmany, Ibiza.

How would you define that personal stamp?

Personally I’m always in search of functionality and dynamism. Starting from there, I develop the first ideas in sketches of plans that lay out directions, how people move about and spaces adapted to the needs of the clients.

Aixut Interiorisme
Cocina y salón vivienda particular. Ibiza.

Do you follow a methodology when facing an interior design project?

I like to develop projects as if they were for me. First, I listen to the client’s needs, I try to internalize them and from there I design using my own criteria, although obviously, always including their personal preferences. My way of designing is very peculiar. After taking measurements I always carry them about hand-drawn on a piece of paper in my pocket, so that when an idea occurs to me, wherever it is, I can automatically incorporate it. Some projects flow straight away, but others can stay in my pocket for days until I get the perfect solution that shapes them.

Aixut Interiorisme
Cocina vivienda particular. Ibiza.

Aixut Interiorisme is especially strong in the hotel industry and holiday homes in the Balearic Islands. What are the specific demands of this service?

We have several types of clients, depending on whether they are dedicated to seasonal or all-year-round tourism. We try to design a flexible interior design for the hotels that open all year round that provide warmth during winter and coolness in summer. Another condition is linked to the type of visitors they receive, the Italian, German or English visitors are totally different. But something common to all our clients is that we always establish an extremely close relationship of trust before, during and after the project. With the work already completed, it is quite common that each year we carry out different adjustments and fine-tuning. We are proud to say that, as a service company, we have clients in the hotel and the dwelling sectors with whom we have been working continuously for thirty years.

Aixut Interiorisme
Dormitorio vivienda particular. Ibiza.

The hotel industry is one of the industries that consumes most energy in Spain. Is the equation that factors comfort, efficiency and return on investment basic requirements when you design lighting?

We always try to achieve maximum energy savings in our projects. Without a doubt, the appearance of led technology and control systems has been of great help because we can create scenarios and adjust consumption to ideal levels, increasing quality, comfort and service.  It’s important to point out that Aixut Interiorisme doesn’t just handle interior design but develops global projects that take into account the consumption of electricity, gas and water and focusses intently technical installations, climate control and kitchens.

Aixut Interiorisme
Recepción Apartamentos Oasis Sa Tanca. Cala Llonga, Ibiza.

Home interior design is another area in which you are especially active. In this area, linear LEDs provide a wide variety of lighting solutions. Do you like to use light lines? What are your favourite uses?

I confess that I am a great admirer of led strips and I always fit them into our projects. We put a lot of thought into lighting, as it is the component that provides the greatest degree of comfort. Personally, I find indirect lighting attractive. Human beings receive sunlight from above, therefore it seems important to me to apply this principle in artificial lighting. When you install spotlights, you see a very intense point of light that generates a pool of light on the floor, not on the ceiling. That is why I consider that linear LEDs integrated into recesses, false ceilings, or with specific profiles that hide them, do let you light the ceiling. Then you can always add a fitting to provide focussed light at a certain point, but when designing general lighting, the linear led system provides greater uniformity, comfort and visual quality in all spaces.

Aixut Interiorisme
Cafeteria y terraza Hotel Lux Isla. Platja de Talamanca, Ibiza.

Could you mention a project in which the linear LEDs have solved a specific challenge?

In the renovation of the Sal Rossa tourist apartments in Platja d’en Bossa in Ibiza we had to renovate the pool area, located on a floating floor due to the problems associated with being in a flood zone. We had to adapt the lighting to the existing kidney shape and the best solution was offered by Lluria’s Wolf strip, as it had an IP68 rating and met the requirements of being flexible, submersible, shock and weather- resistant. Moreover, the resin capsule does not turn yellow in time, as it usually does. The client is very satisfied with the result, the lighting creates the right atmosphere for outdoor dining on summer nights.

Aixut Interiorisme
Terraza piscina Apartamentos Sal Rossa. Platja d'en Bossa, Ibiza.

Interview with Mary Pardo and Susana Barea, founders of Krea Lighting Studio

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
©alvarovaldecantos

If something characterizes the founders of Krea Lighting Studio it is their accessibility and personal touch. They pride themselves on listening to customers and providing the best strategy, as well as the talent, creative approach and attention to detail that deliver the best solution to every need. They are convinced that their commitment to and enthusiasm for well done work will take them far.

In 2018 you founded your studio, Krea Lighting. What led you to do it together? Were you close friends?

Susana: No, the truth is that we had never worked together, we only met because we had some common suppliers. We were at a decisive point at a time when Mary was deciding between going into teaching or continuing with projects and I had to decide my professional future from among several proposals.

Mary: It was a matter of good vibrations, Susana inspired trust from the very beginning. We only needed to meet a couple of times to decide to combine our knowledge and experience and establish Krea Lighting.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Casa Kub's

Is it difficult to get into the profession as an independent studio? What are the biggest challenges you faced?

Mary:  The biggest challenge is economic. The current pandemic situation is extraordinarily complex. The rest needs dedication and enthusiasm.

Susana: Developing projects is no problem for us, beyond the challenges that each customer poses.  In contrast, all the management and paperwork issues involved in founding a company are time-consuming and are exhausting. In our case, because our premises are on the ground floor and visible from the street, the architectural and regulatory requirements are much greater.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Agrupació Jugadors FCB. ©alvarovaldecantos

The question we must ask is, where does your interest in light come from?

Mary:  My interest in light came by pure chance. When I was quite young, I went to work in a lighting company as an office worker. There I discovered the enormous possibilities light offers to the point that the manager encouraged me to devote myself to it and to study interior design, so I’d have the basics. I fell in love with light from the outset.

Susana: I studied interior design, but when I joined a food company in 2001 that was developing projects for markets, pastry shops, butchers, shops or restaurants, I realized the enormous importance of light in general, and especially how it affected people’s perception of food. But as an interior designer you are not a lighting expert, so I sought out the studies I needed and took the Master in Lighting Design from UPC in Barcelona, of which I am currently coordinator.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Agrupació Jugadors FCB. ©alvarovaldecantos

What kind of projects are you working on?

Susana: The current situation, which allows us to work online, gives us the opportunity to develop all kinds of projects at local, national and international levels. Having the studio in Vic does not limit us in any way. But it is true that the pandemic has boosted housing projects.

Mary:   Currently we are also working on a couple of restaurants, shops, a showroom in Barcelona and on teaching.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Obra exhibeo VM

Have you developed a language that characterizes you as a studio?

Mary:   More than a language or style, I would say that what characterizes our work is that we always listen to our customers to determine their needs. Once they are established, we can develop the most suitable solutions.

Susana: Even if customers don’t know anything about lighting, if they know how they like to live or how they like to work, they understand their needs better than anyone else. Therefore, this initial and close contact is essential for achieving the best results. And I’m not just talking about small projects; we’re always present from the beginning, ready to establish a one-on-one relationship. If something defines us as a studio, it is our accessibility.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Obra ESOROSA. @ZINCBCN

When you establish that close contact with the owners, do you think they are generally sophisticated enough to understand the language of light as the generator of architectural narrative?

Susana: Generally, our customers come to us, which is important because it means they have a specific interest in lighting. Many of them say, ‘I don’t know what or how, but I want it to be well lit’. In our case, after having completed several projects, it is often word of mouth that works best. People come and say, ‘Wow, that has turned out well! Who did it?’ and then they come to us. From when they first show their interest, we try to educate them about how important lighting is as a component in the development of a narrative.

Mary:  Going back to the close personal contact we mentioned before, we not only design the visual project, but we are fully involved: we arrange visits, perform light tests, advise, explain why we have chosen one product or another, advise on the pros and cons… We are totally involved with the architects and installers on site, and we always try to be part of the overall team. We can develop a great project, but if we do not cooperate with the architect, the interior designer and the installer afterwards, it won’t turn out as we want.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Mercat de Olesa. Obra Exhibeo VM. @Pere Grimau

When you talk to architects, interior designers and installers do you need to adapt your language to theirs, so that the projects can be successfully implemented?

Susana: The difference between them and us is that when we work with architects and interior designers, they perceive us as a plus in their work. Installers, however, often see us as competitors that invade their area and will make their lives more difficult. In fact, many of them come straight out with it. Our relationship with installers is more complex, but the results speak for themselves. Once they see the finished project and the relationship has gone smoothly, they end up acknowledging our contribution.

Mary:  It depends on the project. In our case, we know installers who are regular customers and who call us directly. We have recently worked on a series of homes and it was the installer who invited us to take part, because we add value to their work. Although there are all kinds attitudes, fortunately some people are beginning to appreciate us.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Mercat de Olesa. Obra Exhibeo VM. @Pere Grimau

Do you like to use lines of light in your projects?

Susana: A lot. They are excellent for emphasising architecture and hiding the light source.

Mary:   They are practical; they give great results and are easy to incorporate into projects. At the moment we are involved in modular houses for which we have made a prototype that incorporates several light lines. And we always work with Lluria, because of their proximity, efficient service and problem-solving capability. It’s a company with a great team behind it.

Susana: Yes, and another point in their favour is that their catalogue enables us to choose from a wide variety of profile and linear led models, whether for a project that requires the highest quality or for lower budget projects. And what we appreciate most is their ability to adapt when making custom lengths. We find it very practical and the installers are more than happy with the results.

Krea Lighting
Vivienda Vilaseca Interiorisme. @ZINCBCN

Nature, in search of the ideal light to achieve harmony in spaces

For years, artificial lighting has fruitlessly attempted to imitate the glow and vitality of natural light. Yet today, LED technologies that more faithfully reproduce the spectrum of natural light, like the Nature range by Lluria, are a powerful tool for the design of spaces that are in harmony with the sunlight; places that are more respectful of the human circadian system and that focus on the people’s wellbeing.

What is circadian lighting?
Circadian lighting is a type of lighting that regulates artificial light in keeping with people’s needs for health and wellbeing, by respecting the cycles of human biology and minimising the negative effects of electric light on our biological clocks.

Our brains receive visual signals through the eyes, telling us when it is day and when it is night. In response to those signals, the brain then controls the amount of melatonin that is released, generating sleepiness when it is dark and a state of alertness when it is light. The circadian rhythm is basically the internal clock that is generated in each individual based on these signals. Light affects our visual and non-visual systems and scientists have discovered that certain blue wavelengths emitted by artificial light sources can alter people’s circadian rhythms.

(Español) Nature, Lluria Lighting Systems

The ideal light
To respond to the demands for human centric lighting, Lluria has created the Nature model LED strip, which was developed in accordance with the guidelines of the IES TM-30-18 method. This method more precisely measures and evaluates the properties of light sources, enabling them to be adjusted to the closest parameters of natural light. In LED Nature, the fidelity index (Rf), is Rf>95; and the colour rendering index (Rg), is _> 100. Characteristics that display an excellent quality of light and allow us to bring the benefits of solar light to indoor spaces.

The three tools of human centric lighting

There are three indispensable tools for the design of circadian lighting in indoor spaces: regulating the intensity; controlling the colour temperature; and adjusting visual stimuli.

Regulating the intensity of light is the most common solution, where the sources of light maintain a specific temperature colour (TC) while the intensity of the light is regulated in keeping with the time of day, starting with a lower intensity early in the morning, increasing as the day progresses and decreasing from sunset onwards.

Colour temperature control makes it possible to imitate the natural variance of the light during the day and night cycle, with cooler colour temperatures when the sun is highest in the sky and warmer temperatures when people go to sleep or wake up. This is usually regulated along with the intensity of the light.

Adjusting the visual stimuli is a more advanced adjustment. It is achieved by using LEDs with a spectral composition more similar to that of natural light, such as the LED Nature, enabling a closer imitation of daylight, while controlling both the fidelity of the light and the reduction of blue wavelengths, when combined with the two tools described above.

Nature luz perfecta

Applications and benefits
Certainly, one of the sectors with the greatest interest in these new technologies is the medical sector, where healthy lighting can afford major advances in the quality of life of everyone, patients and medical staff alike.

Yet there is also great potential in other more commercial sectors, as well as in everyday life:

Workplaces:
The regulation of light intensity in offices and colour temperature control in schools has been common practice for decades. In addition to advocating natural lighting, the WELL certification system, which promotes standards of health and wellbeing in indoor spaces, moreover advocates quality artificial lighting and respect for the circadian rhythms.

Commercial environments:
LED Nature strips improve the perception of colours and visual precision, making them ideal in shop spaces, where the faithful reproduction of colours and materials is essential. At Lluria, we know that each brand has very specific needs in terms of product image and display, making the ability to calibrate intensity, colour temperature and light spectrum fundamental in order to respond to each person’s specific demands.

Nature luz perfecta

Spaces created for physical and emotional wellbeing:
Spas, gyms, and health and beauty centres are increasingly opting for circadian lighting systems to enhance the benefits of treatments, while inducing better relaxation or greater toning, depending on each individual’s needs and preferences.

Nature luz perfecta

Homes that lack natural lighting:
Generally speaking, in places where there is not enough natural lighting, it is extremely important to work with light sources that can simulate it, both to take the place of its total lack or to complement any existing natural light. When combined with a suitable lighting design, there is an optimisation of both the distribution of light in the space and its integration into the architecture.

The future of circadian lighting
Many studies conducted at schools, hospitals and offices show the success of circadian lighting systems when it comes to increasing people’s alertness and improving their wellbeing. There is a difference between the use of light’s colour spectrum to alter the circadian rhythms and its use to support it. The Nature range is a highly valuable tool in lighting designs that bear in mind not only the spectral composition of light, but also its distribution in the space, its visual impact and its emotional and physiological contribution to people’s needs.

Contact us at info@lluria.com and make an appointment to check the effects of the Nature range in our Lluria Xperience laboratory.