The Importance of Lighting Design in Architecture
Jorge Khawam, Head of Design of Own London answers 20 questions
QL: Could you tell us a little about your background?
I have a diverse and exciting background in the fields of architecture and design, with a particular focus on lighting design and interior architecture. My journey began as an architect, where I honed my skills in creating functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces. During this time, I discovered my passion for lighting and how it can profoundly impact the ambiance and overall feel of any project.
Motivated by this realization, I decided to explore lighting design further, adding a unique dimension to my skill set. I became well-versed in the art and science of lighting, understanding the interplay of light and shadows to create captivating environments. Lighting, for me, became the “icing on the cake” of every project, a transformative element that could elevate the beauty and atmosphere of any space.
As my career progressed, I felt the urge to delve deeper into interior architecture and design. This transition allowed me to leverage my architectural expertise and lighting knowledge to curate spaces that are classic, eclectic, and bold. I believe that a space is more than just its physical structure; it should reflect the personality and aspirations of its occupants while providing a seamless fusion of form and function.
Throughout my journey, I have embraced a design philosophy that emphasizes attention to detail, functionality, and artistic expression. I am passionate about creating spaces that not only meet the practical needs of the users but also inspire and evoke emotions. I enjoy challenging conventions and incorporating unique design elements that make each project a one-of-a-kind experience.
QL: What do you love about your job?
As an architect and interior designer, I absolutely love my job for numerous reasons.
“One of the most fulfilling aspects of my work is the opportunity to create spaces that not only fulfil the functional needs of my clients but also evoke emotions and leave a lasting impression. Each project presents a new canvas for me to express my creativity and design expertise”
What I find particularly rewarding is the chance to collaborate closely with my clients, understanding their vision, needs, and preferences. I take great pride in translating their ideas into tangible designs that exceed their expectations. I love the sense of achievement that comes from delivering a space that aligns perfectly with their aspirations and brings their dreams to life.
Being a designer, I have a unique advantage in incorporating the perfect blend of light and shadow to enhance the ambiance and atmosphere of every space. It is truly gratifying to witness how thoughtful lighting solutions can completely transform a room, accentuating architectural elements and creating a captivating experience for the occupants.
Moreover, I find joy in pushing the boundaries of design and infusing my projects with a classic, eclectic, and bold flair. Each project becomes a personal endeavour to ensure that it stands out, setting new standards of creativity and innovation in the world of interior architecture.
Ultimately, my greatest satisfaction comes from knowing that I have provided my clients with not just what they need but also something more – a unique and thoughtfully crafted space that resonates with their lifestyle, values, and emotions. The smiles on their faces, when they step into their completed spaces, are truly priceless and affirm the passion I have for my profession.
In summary, I love my job because it allows me to blend artistry, functionality, and innovation to create exceptional spaces that enrich the lives of my clients and leave a positive impact on the world of design.
QL: Can you remember the moment when you knew you wanted to become an interior architect?
Absolutely! I have a distinct memory of that moment in my life. When I was just 8 years old, I came across a captivating photo of the Parthenon in Greece. The sheer beauty and magnificence of the ancient architecture left me in awe. I was mesmerized by the way the structure harmoniously blended with its surroundings and evoked a sense of wonder and admiration.
From that very moment, I knew that I wanted to be a part of creating such extraordinary buildings and spaces. The idea of crafting environments that could not only fulfil practical needs but also inspire emotions and uplift the human spirit resonated deeply with me. It was like a calling to pursue a career in architecture and design.
QL: Since you began how much has changed in architecture?
Since the beginning of my career, architecture has undergone significant changes. Technology, such as CAD and BIM, has revolutionized the design process, making it more efficient and precise. Sustainable design has become a priority, focusing on energy efficiency and eco-friendly materials.
Adaptive reuse and inclusive design principles have gained prominence, preserving historical structures and creating spaces accessible to all. Advancements in materials and construction techniques have expanded design possibilities.
Additionally, the role of lighting in architecture has evolved. Lighting design is now seen as a critical element that enhances the beauty and ambiance of spaces. Smart lighting solutions and integrated IoT technologies have further transformed the way we illuminate buildings, creating more immersive experiences.
QL: Simplest change on a project that made the biggest difference.
This will sound a bit crazy but blocking a window in a kitchen space allowed for a much better layout while still using enough daylight from another window.
QL: Which Architect inspires you the most?
QL: What project are you most proud of and why?
I am very proud of most of my projects but a house in Mustique Island in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
QL: What are you working on now?
I am working on several residential projects in London and the middle east. Also a hotel in Mykonos.
QL: Biggest ‘I wish I’d done that differently’ moment?
Before I specialised in architectural lighting design I used to place downlights above beds and sitting furniture. Never again!
QL: What are the benefits of lighting in architecture?
The benefits of lighting in architecture are multifaceted and essential in creating exceptional spaces. Lighting plays a pivotal role in enhancing the overall design, functionality, and ambiance of a building. Here are some key benefits of lighting in architecture:
- Aesthetic Enhancement: Lighting accentuates architectural features, textures, and forms, making them more visually appealing. Thoughtfully designed lighting can add drama, create focal points, and emphasize design elements, elevating the aesthetics of a space.
- Mood and Atmosphere: Lighting significantly influences the mood and ambiance of a room. By adjusting the intensity, colour temperature, and distribution of light, architects can evoke emotions and set the desired atmosphere for different spaces, such as calming and relaxing in bedrooms or vibrant and energetic in commercial areas.
- Functionality and Safety: Adequate lighting is crucial for ensuring that spaces are safe and functional. Properly illuminated walkways, stairs, and other areas help prevent accidents and enhance wayfinding, especially in larger buildings or public spaces.
- User Experience: Lighting design directly impacts how occupants perceive and experience a space. Well-designed lighting can create a welcoming and comfortable environment, promoting positive interactions and overall satisfaction for users.
- Spatial Perception: Lighting can influence the perception of space. By employing various lighting techniques, architects can visually alter the size, proportions, and dimensions of a room, making it feel more open, cozy, or intimate as desired.
- Energy Efficiency: Integrating energy-efficient lighting solutions, such as LED technology and smart lighting controls, can significantly reduce energy consumption and operational costs in buildings.
QL: Biggest WOW moment with lighting?
Creating a double coffer detail in a very long corridor on a penthouse in the Bahamas. The lighting effect resulted very effective and complimented the design in this space that otherwise would have looked quite boring.
QL: What aspects of lighting frustrate or annoy you?
Having visible LED profiles in the de final design.
QL: Biggest value you see in well-considered lighting?
Of course to enhance the interior design. The biggest value I see in well-considered lighting is its ability to enhance the interior design and elevate the overall experience of a space.
“Thoughtfully designed lighting solutions go beyond just providing illumination; they become an integral part of the design, adding depth, character, and emotion to the environment”
The biggest value of well-considered lighting lies in its transformative ability to enhance interior design, shaping spaces into captivating, functional, and emotionally resonant environments that cater to the needs and desires of the users.
QL: Does LED colour temperature matters in residential projects?
Yes, LED colour temperature matters significantly in residential projects. The colour temperature of LED lighting directly impacts the ambiance, mood, and overall atmosphere of a residential space. Choosing the right colour temperature is crucial in creating a comfortable and visually pleasing environment for the occupants. Here’s why LED colour temperature matters in residential projects:
- Creating the Desired Atmosphere: Different colour temperatures evoke varying emotional responses and set the tone for a room. Warm colour temperatures (around 2700K to 3000K) create a cozy and inviting atmosphere, ideal for living rooms, bedrooms, and dining areas. Cooler colour temperatures (around 4000K to 5000K) are more energizing and suitable for workspaces or areas where focused tasks take place.
- Enhancing Visual Comfort: The right colour temperature ensures that lighting is visually comfortable and easy on the eyes. In areas where relaxation and unwinding are essential, warm colour temperatures help create a soothing and calming ambiance.
- Accurate Colour Rendering: Colour temperature affects how colours appear under the light. In residential spaces, where the use of various colours and décor is common, a colour temperature that offers good colour rendering (CRI) is crucial to accurately represent the colours and maintain the intended aesthetics of the space.
- Adapting to Activities: Different areas of a residential project serve various purposes, such as reading, cooking, entertaining, or relaxing. Adapting the LED colour temperature to suit each activity ensures optimal lighting for specific tasks and enhances the overall functionality of the space.
- Time of Day and Seasonal Considerations: Colour temperature can be used to mimic natural lighting conditions. In the evening or during winter months when natural light may be limited, warmer colour temperatures can help create a sense of coziness and simulate the feeling of natural sunset lighting.
- LED colour temperature is a critical consideration in residential projects as it affects the mood, comfort, and functionality of the space!
QL: Dimmable or Non-Dimmable lighting?
QL: Do you have any ‘smart lighting’ in your home?
No, unfortunately not.
QL: What is the most iconic building in London?
To me, the Battersea Power Station
QL: Most memorable sunrise/sunset?
QL: Summer or Winter?
QL: What advice would you give to a lighting designer?
In my experience as a designer, here is some valuable advice to consider:
- Understand the Project Scope: Begin by thoroughly understanding the project’s requirements, including the client’s goals, budget, and timeline. A clear understanding of the project scope will help you tailor your lighting design solutions to meet specific needs.
- Collaborate and Communicate: Effective communication with clients, architects, interior designers, and other stakeholders is vital. Collaborate closely with the team to ensure that your lighting design aligns seamlessly with the overall vision of the project.
- Emphasize Functionality: While aesthetics are important, prioritize functionality in your lighting design. Ensure that the lighting solutions cater to the specific needs and activities of the space, providing adequate illumination and visual comfort.
- Consider User Experience: Always keep the end-users in mind when designing lighting schemes. Focus on creating environments that are inviting, comfortable, and conducive to the intended activities and emotions.
- Balance Natural and Artificial Lighting: Incorporate natural lighting whenever possible, as it enhances well-being and energy efficiency. Find a harmonious balance between natural and artificial lighting to create dynamic and adaptable spaces.
- Experiment with Layers of Light: Utilize a variety of lighting layers, such as ambient, task, and accent lighting, to create depth and visual interest. Experiment with different fixtures, light intensities, and beam angles to achieve the desired effects.
- Pay Attention to Colour Rendering: Ensure that your lighting solutions offer good colour rendering (CRI) to accurately represent colours and materials in the space. Proper colour rendering enhances the visual appeal of the design.
- Stay Updated with Technology: Lighting technology is constantly evolving. Stay informed about the latest advancements, such as energy-efficient LEDs, smart lighting controls, and IoT integration, to provide cutting-edge solutions to your clients.
- Prioritize Sustainability: Incorporate sustainable lighting practices in your designs. Opt for energy-efficient fixtures, utilize daylighting strategies, and consider the life cycle of lighting products to minimize environmental impact.
- Continuously Learn and Grow: The field of lighting design is vast and ever-changing. Invest in continuous learning and professional development to stay updated with industry trends and expand your skill set.
- Seek Feedback and Learn from Experience: Request feedback from clients and occupants after the completion of projects. Reflect on your design choices and learn from each experience to refine your future designs.
- Embrace Creativity and Innovation: Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and explore innovative lighting concepts. Your creativity can lead to unique and memorable lighting solutions that leave a lasting impression.
“Embrace Creativity and Innovation”
I think that being a successful lighting designer involves a balance of technical knowledge, creative vision, and a strong focus on meeting the needs of the clients and end-users. With a commitment to continuous improvement and a passion for transforming spaces with light, you can create exceptional and inspiring lighting designs.