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Light plays an essential role in our ability to perceive the world around us; the lighting system plays a critical role in how we perceive a space and can even influence how we act in that space. Lighting can affect performance, mood, morale, safety, security, and decisions.
The selection of strategy or combination of strategies again will depend on how the space is used. In a retail environment, it may be desirable to provide strong key lighting to accentuate and dramatize key merchandise, whereas in an office such strong accent lighting and shadowing might prove visually fatiguing. Up lighting may work well in an intimate restaurant or to highlight bottles of alcohol in a bar, but may make people look sinister in the home or office.
One way is to ensure that the lighting system 1) provides ambient illumination for orientation and general tasks in the space, 2) task illumination for local, more demanding tasks, and 3) accent illumination to highlight special objects of interest or to guide occupants. An example of this scheme is an open office plan with workstations; we might provide indirect fixtures to provide ambient illumination, task lighting at the workstations for work, and accent lighting to highlight pieces of corporate art on the walls.
A typical general approach to lighting design is, after determining how the space is used, to provide general, localized general, localized and task illumination to meet these needs. General lighting provides a generally uniform light level on the work plane throughout the lighted space. Localized general lighting is similar but is tailored more to the location of tasks in the lighted space. Localized lighting, also called supplemental lighting, is used to provide light to a specific area. Task lighting delivers light tailored for a specific task.
A final way of looking at lighting design is more sophisticated, focused not only on simply providing quantity of accent illumination for highlighting, but also on the art of using light to produce a desired effect.
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