In fashion designer Marysia Reeves’s Venice Beach home, a breezy, lantern-like fixture hovers above the wood dining table.
One style that is rapidly gaining influence in restaurants is to have them adorned in LEDs. Energy-efficient, flexible, and absolutely beautiful, these lamps are available in a wide array of patterns and colors. You don’t have to worry whether your place uses prewired tapes and materials or standard fixtures. If you can afford them, you are saving up on your cooling budget later. Do a prior check, however, on the ones you purchase that they do not have a problem with dimmers.
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The uplighting feature is further used to show off the wall finishes such as hand applied plaster or untreated wood instead of sidelighting or downlighting. The aim is to provide the wall with a dimension and is achieved with having the fixtures implanted at the top of wainscoting or better yet behind the banquettes or booths. And although most people avoid the intense lighting of colored LEDs, they (magenta, red and blue particularly) can be used to enliven the place specifically on weekends.
When hanging a pendant or a chandelier . . .Take Care to Hang It at the Correct HeightToo high and a pendant lamp might look stuck to the ceiling, constricted; too low and you won’t be able to see your guests around it. Somewhere in between is just right, so step back and consider it at various lengths before settling on one. “When you’re seated, you don’t want [the fixture] to be in your face—the same way everyone gets annoyed when flowers are in the way,” Groves says.
If you need a simple, super-inexpensive overhead . . .Get a Porcelain Bulb SocketSay you’ve just moved into a new place and need some overhead lights in the dining room ASAP—that hole in the ceiling where they used to have a pretty flushmount isn’t going to fill itself. Or maybe you’re ready to install overheads for the first time but can’t afford the chandelier of your dreams just yet. Enter these simple porcelain light sockets, which are a cinch to install and look surprisingly chic with a bulb plonked in. Best part? They’re about five dollars.
If you have no interest in hard-wiring a thing . . .Get an Arc Floor LampYou can have proper overhead lighting for your dining area without hard-wiring a thing overhead. All you need is an arc floor lamp; they plug right into a wall outlet but stand tall, with a long, curved neck that will position the bulb and shade directly over your table (how’s that for simplified?). The Arco floor lamp by Flos is classic, but more budget-conscious shoppers can spring for similar styles from retailers like Wayfair (or even Amazon!).
What about exterior lighting? I believe it is as crucial to my business as the interior lighting.
Expand your scope of success by remembering to give your customers and not the architecture the top-most priority. They are the ones your business is all about. When you are concerned about their comfort level, you will make sure there is pleasant lighting. Use colors sparingly to accentuate the moments or any details at your place. A wrong selection would lead you to a circus-like environment.
If you’re into geometric lines . . .Get Creative with the CordWhen hanging a pendant lamp with a very simple silhouette, feel free to get creative with the cord: Zig-zag it from wall to wall around a corner, tack it in swags along the ceiling, or loop it over a hook on the wall.
If you’re trying to decide between options . . .Take the Shape and Style of Your Table into ConsiderationThe overhead fixture you choose and the table itself “don’t have to [have] a direct geometrical correlation, but there should be some proportional consideration,” says designer Russell Groves. A long or unusually large chandelier would obviously overpower a short table, and vice versa a teeny-tiny bulb might look silly above a big table. Same goes for the look: A lovely old farmhouse table would do well with a lovely farmhouse fixture or something super-modern for contrast—but either way, they should be considered together.
Each bar and restaurant has its own individual style. “When designing your venue, you should consider three things: concept, target audience and the space you are using,” explains Morosow. For example, a small bar might only require individual tables to be accentuated, whilst a larger space may need to use lighting to differentiate and separate different areas.
A final note. Whatever style you choose to go with, make sure to have them with clear glass shades. They would add the required sparkle apart from guaranteeing you a maximized output of light.
Next, with Edison lamps becoming popular, some business operations are working with low light levels for inducing a sexy atmosphere and making these light elements stand out prominent. But, they necessitate for you to have pinpoint lighting so that the tabletop light levels at least are respecting the customer needs of comfort and safe circulation. Plus, you need to make sure they are in line with the state regulations. With these Edison lamps, another factor that has been approved of lately deals with exposed incandescent suspended with a cord over a table or even bars for soft glow.
Vary HeightsAs evidenced by a playful display in this NYC apartment, some pendant lamp pairs look best when they’re hung at different heights.
To make the room multifunctional . . .Supplement the Lighting Solution You ChooseIf you end up with nice, warm candlelight over the table, you might need to add sconces or downlights to supplement the glow when the room is used for anything other than an intimate dinner. (Dining room tables are very good for DIY projects, we’d like to note).
The food can be delicious, the drinks perfectly chilled, but if the light isn’t right, the customer won’t bite. And there are studies to prove it. A recent survey* found that “72% of respondents had left a venue earlier than planned because it was too brightly or poorly lit,” whilst “74 % of respondents had stayed longer than planned because the lighting made them feel relaxed and welcome.”
As time is money, bar lighting and restaurant lighting is clearly something to take seriously. We spoke to Julia Morosow, International Key Account Manager for Hospitality in Europe at LEDVANCE to find out how light can serve to create a perfect customer experience. These are her ten golden rules:
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Different lights can perform different tasks. The first step is ambient lighting. This is the main source of light in a bar or restaurant, providing the general level of lighting. Used as diffuse surface-directed lighting, it can also make ceilings seem higher or walls wider. Next comes task lighting. These are fittings applied in areas where work needs to be carried out, such as the cash register or the kitchen. Then comes accent lighting. This is typically spot lighting that draws attention to the architecture or a particular feature. It includes up-lighting on walls or columns, as well as back bar lighting. Finally, comes the fun bit! Both decorative lighting and effect lighting is what personalizes a bar or restaurant. Functionality is less significant here; it’s about creating an individual style.
Interior-Deluxe – Inappropriate lighting does indeed destroy the experience offered by the restaurant. It is important that you understand the atmosphere you desire and the type of venue it is, to be able to reinforce the existing theme positively. From a glow of intimacy to the feel of spaciousness and relaxation, the layout and selection of fixtures for lighting should address the image to be conveyed, color, uses of the space, atmosphere, visibility, and surface finishes. These factors determine the layered lighting approach, the lighting control, and the light-level variation.
What do you think the current trend in restaurant interior design is?
Light your restaurant by the different time of meals, and by the usage and space of your place. Fine dining in a restaurant has evolved to the point where subtlety in all details is the key. Direct lighting is valuable for areas where your food is displayed (for e.g. salad bars) whereas indirect lighting is used for creating the balance and making the place appear charming.
If you’re a fanatic about light quality . . .Be Selective with the Bulbs You UseWarm light, cool light, bright light—you can get exactly the brightness level you desire with the right bulb. For lots of ambiance, try vintage-inspired filament bulbs. If it’s more a particular shape and style you’re after for an exposed-bulb fixture, try decorative bulbs.
Interior-Deluxe: Proper lighting outside definitely does add the beauty, texture and charm to the building, being visible, alerting them that you are open for business and inviting potential customers in. You need your entranceways, the signs, parking areas and architectural highlights to be well lighted for the purpose of highlighting, providing illumination to avoid accidents and generating a sense of security. What you need to consider is the placement, and the degree of intensity and the style of your fixtures remain in harmony with the atmosphere. Landscape lights, ground lights or goose neck lights are the ideal choices.
Interior-Deluxe: Interior designing is usually the most expensive of the investment on any project you wish to start in this business. Redecorating and redesigning your place at regular intervals does not remain an issue if you had been the wise one to opt for flexible lighting. I said regular intervals because you need to break the monotony and maintain it both as fresh and attractive for the existing clientele as well as the ones they will be talking to about the way your restaurant feels and looks. The rule of the thumb states that you need to be creative.
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If you’d like to jazz up a fixture you already own . . .Customize the LampshadeA reflective material inside the shade will help cast light back down toward the table, Groves points out, while perforated shades will turn any bulb into a twinkly light (if that’s your prerogative). “Textured fabrics like raw silk will add a beautiful warmth and shadow to a room,” he says, but should you require a more directional cast “an opaque shade wouldn’t give you a lot of glow in the room, but would put more on the table.” Just because a fixture has shades you’re not into doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line. Swap them out!
Fourth, since the bars have become the focal point for restaurants, designers have resorted to introduce dramatic lighting there in order to sell their premium liquors. From the backlighting or using of track lights, they have worked out for the uplighting element along the back bar. Some of them put in efforts to combine frosted glass panels behind with colored LED to pull off a richer texture and color. Others still have managed well with plain LED lamps placed in spaces along the rear edge of its shelving to get that effect of pop of light. Moreover, if they have been positioned directly behind a transparent liquor bottle that enables effective branding too.
Consider Can LightingIn this stunner of an L.A. home by design collective the Archers, a Le Corbusier-inspired table is lit with simple can overhead lights (definitely on dimmers).
Bar lighting tends to be different to restaurant lighting. As bars normally also aim to provide a form of entertainment, it is more common to experiment with color. Restaurants on the other hand often require more reserved lighting, creating a relaxed environment. Of course this varies according to concept. Color is also used to promote branding and a good way to introduce brand colors. “Be careful not to overdo it though!”
“Lighting is often an afterthought,” says Ms. Morosow, “an added extra thrown in shortly before opening a venue.” However, as a number of factors such as the location of electricity sockets and venue layout are essential to lighting design, it makes sense to consider everything together. Take tables for example. An effective way to highlight individual tables, especially in restaurants, is to install pendant lights (lone hanging fittings) above them. “Without careful planning, it might only be possible to have lights above certain tables!”
For some it’s the grouping of pendant fixtures especially for the places you wish to highlight. The host area or over a booth are places where these lights are generally used. A multi-leveled cluster can have pendants of similar size and shape to make it have a dramatic appeal or they may be arranged in a single line to emphasize the resemblance of the lighting choice. Other owners of the joints in demand call for industrial fixtures of a 1965 type, in their dining rooms catering to both the upscale as well as the casual atmospheres.
Unless you like eating in the dark, you need a light in your dining room—but the kind of fixture is not always an obvious choice. The best dining room lighting ideas are thoughtfully planned out; they take your actual eating habits, furniture proportions, and budget into consideration (e.g., if your “dining room” is a card table smushed up against the wall, you probably don’t want to invest in a massive, fancy chandelier). And though we wouldn’t blame you for screwing a lightbulb into a simple hardware store socket and calling it a day, there are also pendant lights and chandeliers and flushmounts and sconces to consider (not to mention some pretty amazing floor lamps you should probably know about). So we rounded up our best dining room lighting ideas from the AD and Clever archives—from strategies for light bulbs to shopping ideas and design advice—to help you find the perfect fit for your dining room . . . or breakfast nook, or coffee table that you secretly use as a TV tray.
When restaurants and foodservices are designed, one thing that their planning must include beside the physical space is lighting. Place yourself in their shoes and you’ll find your customers desiring a feast for their senses at your branch. Functional as well as setting the mood of your establishment, it is important that your design to leave your customers impressed enough for a return.
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See DoubleIf your table is super-long, consider getting two or more pendant lights to distribute the glow evenly (that way everyone will be able to see their dinner). We love this “duet” fixture by Swedish newcomer Hem.
10. And finally, we asked Ms. Morosow what is more important: design or functionality?
“However unusual or experimental the design of a bar, a minimum level of comfort should always be ensured,” explains Morosow. Guests must always be able to read the menu and see their food. Direct glare should also be avoided by placing lamps outside the natural field of vision. Watch out for light that could be reflected into people’s view from shiny surfaces or mirrors. Diffusers, such as frosted glass or fabrics, can be useful here.
To soften overly bright overheads . . .Add a DimmerDesigner Sam Allen feels strongly about the worth of a dimmer switch: “If your dining room chandelier is not hooked up to a dimmer, call an electrician right now. I mean it. Don’t even finish reading this—call your electrician first.” With the simple pressing of a lever or turning of a knob, dimmers allow you to control the brightness of the bulbs, which is particularly important if you’re dealing with often-harsh overhead lighting. “To me, chandeliers should mimic candlelight,” says Groves—and that warm, dim glow is possible if you just install dimmers. Plus, they’re available in both modern and traditional silhouettes that will add considerably more charm to the walls than those plastic switch plates you hate anyway.
What attributes should I look for in making the lighting of my restaurant enjoyable?
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Not to be confused with colored lighting, color rendering is the ability of a light source to reveal the true colors of various objects. Expressed as an index, the lower the score, the poorer the color rendering properties of a lamp. The highest score is 100. In restaurants and kitchens, a minimum of score of 80 is required; but 90 is better. Getting the color rendering index (CRI) wrong could mean that the visual impression of food (and drinks) doesn’t reach its full potential, having a strong impact on customer experience.
Your entrance area would determine the first impression of your restaurant. It is likely to become the waiting area in cases that the dining room is completely occupied. Plan your lighting accordingly so that it may not have any negative psychological effect on your clients. While young people tend to be fascinated with low levels of lighting, associated commonly with high quality service and even higher prices, older people generally want brighter light to appease their moods.
Ingo has been in the lighting business for over 20 years. He regularly blogs about trends and tips in the industry while running one of the most complete contemporary lighting ecommerce sites on the net. Please take a moment to browse his website and feel free to contact Ingo for all your lighting needs.
First impressions are important, and when it comes to hospitality, lighting plays a bigger role than you might expect. With some still in the dark about how to create the right mood, we asked an expert.
Current trends are seeing a return to basics. “Light sources are now open, with lampshades removed and chords hanging from the ceiling.” Retro-feel light bulbs with an exposed filament are very popular, as it is the bulbs themselves that are the design feature. When it comes to non-decorative lighting, bars and restaurants are increasingly turning to LEDs in order to save money and reduce maintenance. “Both these trends are likely to be here to stay,” says Morosow.
Fix Up an AntiqueIf you find an antique fixture you love—like this lantern-esque piece in the home of design duo Heiberg Cummings—just rewire them and they’ll be good as new. Source on sites like eBay, Etsy, and 1stdibs (or at your local thrift store!).
If you’re sick of the typical dining room look . . .Consider Less Traditional FixturesFrom paper lanterns to pendant lights, the options certainly don’t stop at chandeliers. Groves suggests creating a constellation effect by hanging a group of lights, or by placing a floor lamp placed beside the table rather than mounting a fixture at all. Maybe you’re devoted to crystal (understandable, Groves says, as “it’s been around for hundreds of years for good reason”), in which case consider a more modern shape fashioned from the traditional material.
* Figures taken from a MEGAMAN survey carried out amongst 236 hospitality professionals by Big Hospitality during October 2015.
When someone enters a venue, they should know within the first few seconds where to go and where to find what. “Orientation is essential.” Light can be used to guide guests around a venue by drawing their attention to different focal points or areas. Focal points are created through contrasts in brightness, often between accent lighting and ambient lighting. Recommendations vary, but a 5:1 contrast ratio of accent to ambient is a good starting point to make items stand out.
Forego It AltogetherSconces, floor lamps, even table lamps can do the job of overhead pendant and flushmount fixtures—so don’t force one if you’re not sure you like the look at all (proof, via Amelie Colombet’s apartment).
Quoting Ricardo Legorreta, an architect, “Light attracts people, it shows the way, and when we see it in the distance, we follow it.”
Lighting is key to atmosphere. “Generally speaking, warm, cozy light makes people feel most comfortable, especially in cooler climates.” By warm light we are generally referring to lamps with less than 3000 Kelvin. Installing a dimmer switch adds an element of flexibility, enabling the brightness of a venue to be adjusted to create different moods. Automated control systems can further aid the process, enabling different settings to be programmed according to the time of the day or year.