Leveraging the Light in Your Space

Experiential Innovation

Finding the right light depends on sustainability, aesthetics, and functionality.

Maximizing daylight is usually the goal in lighting your business, but other factors can affect your lighting strategy. Here, John C. Olfelt, strategic facilities architect with 3M Facilities and Services discusses some considerations for lighting your business like a pro.

When you’re working with a business to design its lighting, what do you look at first?

JO: You need to understand the goals in terms of sustainability and aesthetics. Questions related to sustainability include: What are the owner’s desires in terms of energy efficiency, what are the current energy codes, and will you be trying to achieve a “green building rating” such as LEED or Green Globes? In addition, you need to understand what the business is trying to achieve functionally and aesthetically in the space. The functional aspects are important, but the lighting is so much more than that. It’s also an emotional connection to the company and its brand.

How do you adapt lighting to maximize the brand message and the goals you want to achieve?

JO: First, it’s important to look at the light that the space naturally has, then think about the message you want to convey. Let’s say you sell countertops or kitchen cabinets. You might want to have a warm feel that reflects what people want to feel in their home. If you’re trying to be more professional, you might choose a brighter environment. If you’re trying to be more emotional, you might choose more indirect light—perhaps filtered through a film or shade that can control its brightness and color, making it a little warmer and dimmer.

What are the tools businesses can use to achieve their desired lighting effects?

JO: The first goal, whenever possible, is to maximize the use of daylight. Light redirecting films and surfaces take the sunlight and redirect it further into the space so that it extends the useful duration of daylight.

For artificial lighting, LED lighting has become the standard light source for 3M because of the energy efficiency and cost savings due to lower maintenance requirements. Since the LED is a point source of light, the options for controlling and managing how the light is distributed are immense, which leads to many choices in fixture types and designs. These fixtures can be used to target or highlight specific areas or products, or increase lighting for specific workspaces or meeting areas.

In your design process, be sure to study the finishes and colors for walls, ceilings, and floors you are considering in your office in conjunction with the type of lighting. You may find that furniture and wall colors take on different tones based on the lighting type, CRI, and color temperature, which could have an impact on these color palette decisions.

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