guest blog; lighting design


Engaging a professional lighting designer in addition to the architect or designer and electrical engineer is crucial to a successfully resolved project for many reasons. As much time and money is taken to create spaces and select finishes, if these aspects are not carefully illuminated for various times of day and functions, the designer’s intention can be lost. Functionality is always weighed up in a delicate balance with ambiance and mood for human comfort. Also, with the increasing stipulations on environmental sustainability, regulations enforcing minimising power usage and minimum illumination for particular situations, the realm of a lighting designer’s specialised knowledge is beyond that of an architect or designer’s.

It is my pleasure then to hand this illuminating topic over guest bloggers, Sophia Ng and Tamsyn Little from Malaya Blonde lighting design.


Lighting can invoke human emotions. It can move you. The colour temperature of light can heavily influence a person’s mood. Be it a hospitality venue or a home, the warmer the colour temperature, the more welcoming the ambience. Conversely, the colder the light source, the starker and more sterile the atmosphere will be.

Here are a few of projects we have worked on, that demonstrate how clients are becoming more aware of the importance of light and the difference it can contribute make to a space. A successfully lit space is one where the clientele enjoys being in without knowing why.


Project; Nobu, Crown Perth, Designer; Michael Fiebrich Design

Concealed indirect lighting accentuates the interior design features and contributes to the general ambience, while low level table lamps add human scale whilst avoiding general blanket lighting with a sea of downlights. Illuminating the vertical surfaces of a room is an effective way to create a moody room without gloom. Too often incorrect colour temperature of light sources are specified which can destroy the intended feel of a venue. Here LED striplighting was adopted with warm white colour temperatures of 2700 Kelvin to help accentuate the warmth of the adopted materials without a bleaching out effect. Careful detailing of the joinery helps conceal the light sources fully.


Project: Castle Hill RSL, Designer: Altis Architecture

Colour saturation in contrast with warm white light magnifies the effect of colour and its focus in a room. Colour however does not exist in its self. It is a subjective perception produced by light rays interacting on the human eye. Lighting can make or break a space. Bespoke lighting design is no longer an expensive luxury but a design necessity especially considering today’s strict energy efficiency demands and the possibilities provided by new and ever evolving LED’s.


It is sometimes impossible to light a space completely devoid of downlights. In this case downlights are required to accent the table spaces and banquette seating. The dispersive nature of linear lighting was not used to highlight the feature timber louvres as point sources are more effective in grazing and picking up the textures to create a more dramatic effect.


Project: Greenwich Residence, Architect: Kathy Davies, Designer: Ruth Harris, photo by DC Photographic

Home is where the heart lies – and where more but at home should lighting be welcoming, comforting and sensual. Main architectural features are again highlighted contributing to the whole general lighting ambience. Using concealed up-lighting within the beams, the ceiling apex comes to life, while the vertical timber panelling is grazed warmly with low glare in-ground up-lights – another example of utilising linear and point source lighting to create layers.


Project: Kro Bar, Architect: CI Partnership, Designer: Miwa Interior Design

Concealed opal diffused flex LED delineates this organic architectural feature, expressing its materiality cleanly.


Project: Crown Spa, Perth Designer: Michael Fiebrich Design

This relaxation room within a spa adopts discrete illumination to the feature sheers allowing the space to keep its required low light ambiance without dismissing the interior features. Low adjustable and directional reading lights which are manually controlled lets the clientele experience the different functions of the space and picks up the silver drapery, where otherwise there would be gloom.

Kempinski Hotel Dubai

Project: Kempinski Hotel Dubai

Floating panels and edge lit walls are neat design tricks to use when given what could be read as a blocky monolithic space. The monolithic feel remains but a lightness is conveyed and height of the space is pronounced by drawing the eye to the higher lit elements.


Project: Subsolo Restaurant, Sydney, Designer: Ruth Harris

When confronted with a room with a great ceiling expanse, one can break up the space simply with gregarious splashes of colour and light in contrast to a darker ceiling; each area of light then feels like a separate space without losing depth of field. Lighting can also be fun created in these playful custom curved pendants which also help divide up a large restaurant dining area.


Project: The Royal Hotel, Queanbeyan, Designer: SOCO Creative

This small hotel terrace utilises discreet low-level lighting in point and linear form to emphasise the dry bar and accent low glare uplighters to accentuate the raw beauty of the brickwork. Many make the mistake of over lighting outdoor spaces thus stealing the alfresco atmosphere. In this instance 2400 Kelvin LED striplights help produce a golden glow under the dry bars. Each material responds differently to light – the result being a layered lighting effect evoking the history of the building.


Project: Deutche Bank Foyer, North Sydney

Here we created an interesting rhythm to break the monotony of the long space with a kinetic colour changing LED lighting systems while at the same time maintaining the commercial feel of the venue and reducing maintenance with the long life qualities of LEDs. The colour changing LEDs were also programmed to slowly chase towards the reception desk naturally leading people down towards the service area.


Project: Crown Mansions, Perth, Designer: Michael Fiebrich Design

Decorative and custom light fixtures can increase the sense of opulence whilst enhancing the style/theme of the interior design. Backlighting of specific decorative features adds another dimension to a space. It is important not to over light an interior. Selective accent pin spotlighting on dining tables make wine glasses glisten and creates a focal point in the space.

Malaya Blonde Pty Ltd is a new consultancy and the above projects are ones we worked on leading up to the formation of Malaya Blonde.

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