It used to be that the job of an architect was completed upon the client’s approval of the blueprints. Or, in the case of contractors and interior designers, the work was considered done with the turnover of the house, as well as the delivery and placement of the last piece of furniture.
Today, building a house is not just about architecture and interior design. Most architects now consider lighting an essential facet of the final look of a house or building. The strategic positioning of lights is a final touch in the process of creating the overall look.
“It’s no longer just about installing lights to illuminate a room,” explained prolific architect Conrad Onglao. “It’s also about creating a mood for the room. We use lights to establish character, highlight the interiors and create a place where one can live comfortably and function well.”
Onglao is also a licensed interior designer so he gets to do the art of planning how the rooms of a house or building should be furnished and decorated.
The architect noted how it would be a waste of time and talent to design or own anything that is stylish, when no one can appreciate it in the way it should be.
“This is why lighting is very important,” said Onglao. “We place accent lights to showcase a painting, a conversation piece or a bookshelf to light a collection on display. Accent lighting is installed on ceilings, hidden behind the shelves and tables. Lights are also placed to call attention to the style of the living room set.”
Enhance a mood
On the other hand, “indirect lighting” is used to enhance a certain mood. A quiet evening can be more intimate with soft, ambient lighting.
It can also create a romantic setting and even build the drama by highlighting a prized piece of furniture or artwork.
“In the past, centralized lights, such as chandeliers, were used to brighten up a living room. Today, we use accent lighting and indirect lighting to establish a more sophisticated look,” he said.
Onglao was resource speaker at the recent launch of a new line of LED lighting fixtures of Orbik LED bulbs. The brand produces a variety of bulbs that come in different styles, designed for various purposes and rooms.
Orbik also sells a bulb that comes with an audio speaker with Bluetooth connectivity.
The products aren’t sold in supermarkets but are available in major home depots where architects and designers do their shopping.
Onglao said architects must carefully choose the right kind of fixtures to ensure sustainability and efficiency. “And we advise clients to continue using the brands and types we had originally installed. The brands we recommend can only be purchased at home depots,” he said.
Otherwise, the client runs the risk of ruining the look of his or her home, upsetting its living style, and paying higher electric bills.
Thus, buying an ordinary naked light bulb simply won’t do anymore. “There is no blanket lighting solution for all spaces,” Onglao pointed out. “A bedroom should have soft and warm lighting. The kitchen and other work places would need ‘task lighting,’ with lights installed over work tables and kitchen counters.”
For his part, Orbik marketing director Jam Chan underscored the importance of considering the size and function of the room. “This is to ensure that you buy a bulb that has a wattage fit to its function. To get the right amount of illumination for its function, we must look at the lumens, not the wattage,” he said.
The lumen is the measure of the total quantity of light emitted from a source. Selecting lights with the right measure of lumens will help illuminate a room in a proper, efficient and environment-friendly manner.
Chan recommends LED bulbs, which may be more expensive but last much longer and are more energy efficient. Orbik LED bulbs come in both warm white, which has a yellowish color, and daylight options which come in crisp white.
Since large windows that provide panoramic views of the garden have been in lumens, Onglao said that most new houses tend to use fewer lights, especially in the daytime. “Even the bathrooms have large windows now. I’m a firm believer in bringing the outdoors inside the house. This trend spreads across every architectural style; Modern or Mediterranean or American clapboard. The windows are larger and the view more expansive,” he said.
His own home, the epitome of the modern house, has glass walls and high ceilings. The other rooms follow his dictum of using softer lights. Using a dimmer is very helpful.
For instance, Orbik’s Step Dimmer lighting system is adjustable from 100 percent brightness, down to 50 percent, and then five percent. It can be turned up 100 percent for reading, or real low at five percent upon waking up in the morning. This way, eye irritation is avoided by the sudden glare brought about by ordinary light bulbs.
“If you notice, even the guest rooms of hotels use softer lighting. Hotel owners want to capture the same atmosphere of today’s homes, so that their guests can feel right at home in their hotels,” said Onglao.
Others, however, tend to dislike the softer illumination in many hotel rooms and rest rooms, where the dimly lit mirrors tend to reflect a person in an unflattering manner.
“Well, aside from the kitchen and other work place in the house, the bathroom should also be brightly lit,” said Onglao, laughing. “Mirrors are larger and should be illuminated with yellow LED bulbs. They could be hidden behind the mirror or lined along the mirror’s frame in the same style of the mirrors we see in movie star dressing rooms. With yellow LED bulbs, it will be easier for a lady to put on her makeup. She can see herself more clearly and the reflection will be more flattering.”
Now that’s another great reason one should be choosy about light bulbs.