A lot of our clients are surprised to walk into our office and find our lighting setup “darker” than they are accustomed to. Some people think it’s because we want to save on electricity, or that we’re secretly vampires, but we actually do have unique reasons for choosing the light environment we currently have.
Fluorescent light can be abrasive
Some fluorescent lighting, in particular, the tube type, can be difficult on your eyes when you are looking at a computer screen for 6-8 hours, which at a web design company we are doing daily. Some people even claim they can see the flicker of the bulbs or that they trigger migraine headaches. Reducing ambient lighting in your work environment can also help reduce the eye strain caused by reflective glares on monitor screens. Fortunately, the transition to LCD and flat-screen monitors has led to incorporating anti-glare finishes into the monitor face itself which can reduce the negative impact of glare.
There are aesthetic reasons to limit the ambient light and use incandescent lamps in an office space, even beyond the overall look of an office. Color temperature of fixtures, or the perceived color of the light they emit, is an important consideration when doing any work for design. Sometimes the relative color temperature of a room can skew the perception of color on the computer screen, making it difficult for designers to adequately compare colors. Fluorescent “tubes” tend to be bluer and incandescent lightbulbs (CFLs) tend to be more orange or yellow. The more you can limit this type of color intrusion, the easier it becomes to get an accurate “feel” for what a color really look like on a computer screen. Reducing the amount of ambient lights or mixing them more equally, can help reduce the amount of intrusion into a neutral color space. As compact fluorescent light bulbs are becoming more popular and replacing the traditional incandescent bulbs, many of the issues of fluorescent light have been mitigated, by providing the type of light that a traditional bulb does, but at the reduced energy cost of traditional fluorescent overhead lights.
One of the other benefits of using small light fields in our office is that it limits distraction. By eliminating the areas light bleeds into and narrowing the focus into a few small areas, it can help condense the office workspace into smaller compartmentalized work areas. Desk lamps are ideal for this as they contain the light field into a smaller area.
We can’t deny the fact part of the reason we selected the lighting we wanted is because we also like the way it looks. Back40 Design was able to install some great looking George Nelson Bubble Lamps that really match the look and feel of our office as well as help define our different office areas and meeting spaces. Ultimately that is the most important consideration for the lighting of any office, it’s what makes employees feel the most comfortable and productive.