interior designer melbourne

Hospitality Light & Lighting Guide

In any project whether it’s residential or commercial such as hospitality interior design, light and lighting is very important. Light is one of the seven interior design elements and has an important role. It’s one of the most hard-working interior design elements because it’s functional and aesthetic.

Getting the balance right is crucial to ensure the space has balance and harmony. Balance and harmony are the epitome of good interior design. These are the interior design principles interior designers aspire to for each space. So here is my hospitality light and lighting guide.

3 different types of light

In a space there are 3 different types of light: natural light, artificial light and ambient light. The first type of light I consider in a space is natural light. This is light from the sun. Even when it’s cloudy, there is natural light that affects the space both in terms of quantity of light, and quality of light. Another consideration for natural light is how it can influence the actual temperature of the space.

Natural light is important in hospitality interior design, primarily because it can impact a diners’ experience both negative and positive. If you have alfresco dining, natural light can influence a diner in a couple of key ways. Firstly, their sight, for example their ability to read a menu if the sun is really bright and secondly their comfort levels, depending on how hot it is.

The next important type of light is artificial light. Artificial light is light from a non-natural light source. That is it requires an electrical source to operate. In a hospitality design setting this could be pendant lights, down lights, heat lamps, LED fluorescent lights and so on.

In a hospitality interior design setting, the space needs a good amount of functional and non-functional light. Non-functional light is also known as mood lighting. This is especially important for evening servicing. And trickier to get right as in the evening you also need bright functional light in a café, bar or restaurant. For example, in a kitchen all the cooks need a brighter light to work. So if you have a large service window or an open kitchen the contrast in light can be striking but not in a good way, necessarily.

Functional Light

The functional artificial light services employees mostly. They need to see well enough to provide service, walk ways needs to be visible, menus and the register readable. But artificial light is key to providing mood lighting for customers so there is a delicate balance that needs to take place.

If artificial light is too moody you risk diners being able to read menus or signs to the toilet for example. A good light and lighting plan for a hospitality space requires careful planning and a good floor plan.

Ambient light is light not from a direct light source. In a café setting for example this could be the glow from a neon sign or in a restaurant candles.

Users – employees and customers

There are two primary groups of people to consider when planning light and lighting in a café, bar or restaurant. They are the diners or customers and employees. There are different types within each group as well.

For example there are take away, eat in and retail customers. For some spaces there are drinking and not eating customers or just retail customers.

There are also different types of employees, such as wait staff, bar staff, cleaners, cooks, baristas, dishwashers and so on. Each of these groups has a different light and lighting requirement from a hospitality design space.

How to get hospitality design lighting right

The key to getting hospitality design light and lighting right is careful planning and a deep understanding of the space, and the users of the space.

Knowing the space means understanding the function. Spatial configuration of a café, bar and restaurant requires knowing the business goals, and working in harmony with the space to develop a good layout that addresses, capacity, flow of movement, light and lighting and business goals.

Admittedly in a café environment that operates mostly during the day, working out the light and lighting is much easier than a restaurant that operates in the evening. Getting the mix of moody soft, atmospheric light right versus functional lighting is a balancing act but achievable.

Staying competitive

I recently read an article by Jay Rayner, a UK based food critic. A middle aged man who recently wrote about how difficult it was to read a menu during a recent restaurant visit. And the young wait staff were not particular empathetic or helpful.

For hospitality business owners ostracising a key and wealthy demographic such as people 40-45+ doesn’t make sense. This is a crucial market with money who are likely to order expensive food and drink and stay a long time.

Not just this group but all your diners no matter what their age must feel comfortable to have a good experience, to ensure they come back and more crucially tell all their friends.

There are many factors that contribute to a successful hospitality interior design, light and lighting is just one interior design element that is considered. Along with comfort, flow of movement, colour, texture, pattern, lines, shape and so on.

It’s a balancing act with the customer at the heart because without customers your hospitality business simply won’t survive in this highly competitive market. We can help you design a space with wow factor for your cafe, bar or restaurant.