A trip to Philips HQ for the lowdown on the LED lighting revolution

Do you consider yourself as a “dark greeny” or a “ bright greeny?”. I can hear the screams, “what the heck is she talking about!” Well, let me put it like this, do you fit in the “must stop driving, turn all lights off and stay inside before we burn the plant to a crisp category” Or are you the “we can still travel, have fun and live a super dooper life whilst tackling our carbon footprint category”.

The reason I ask is because the popularity of sustainable living is rapidly growing, with most people now actively taking part in one way or another, in fight against harmful carbon emissions by investing in technology such as combi boilers, under floor heating and efficient lighting. We’re now taking real responsibility for our energy usage, whether you chose to be an extreme “dark greeny” or a more positive and flexible “bright greeny”.

Speaking of bright, lighting is one feature an interior designer will spend many hours working out where to place in a design scheme, taking into account colour temperature, colour rendering and the psychological effect that light has. Nowadays, technology has progressed at a super pace, which enables designers to create a desired lighting plan without the huge energy consumption, heat output and cost. Great!

But the knowledge about lighting design can’t just be learned over night, it’s a skill that needs to be developed and mastered. This is why the National Design Academy in Nottingham (including myself!), traveled to Philips’ head office in Surrey yesterday, to explore the revolutionary LED light that will be used the Academy’s design studio’s and make up a possible educational display for students to fully understand all aspects of energy lighting and the bigger picture of sustainable living today.

Previous energy lights have been criticised for being very clinical and cold, however the new age Philips LED lights throws this stereotype out the window. As the largest lighting company in the world, Philips put roughly 5% of their profits back into research and have invested in a thicker phosphor coating inside the bulbs to create a warmer light. This coating can also be adjusted to create a more orange or blue effect depending on the project.

It was amazing to see the different demonstrations especially that showed how the different colours of lights change the colour of a carpet, flooring or paint. With the flick of a switch five lights came on above my head, each scaled from orange to blue light shining over the same material and each made the colour look considerably different. I find it so frustrating when I’ve bought paint and it looked blue in the shop, then green when I got it on the walls! Maybe the leading home and DIY stores should invest in more fitting lights or give customers a little intro into lighting theory – just a thought!

We then moved onto the super cool squared wall and mini-bar panel that can display animation, colour and text with a variety of effects controlled from a computer – disco meets eco I’ve named it.

The most interesting part of the presentation was the huge psychological effect various temperatures of light have our subconscious mood. Retailers like TESCO use this to their advantage by using cooler lights over the till areas to speed up the purchase process and other colours to direct customers to specific parts of the store.

“Some may call it brain washing”,  I heard from across the room!

But this notion is key when designing the mood and function of a room or scheme, for example, warm lighting in the break room of an office is calming and relaxes staff, but this wouldn’t be suitable in the actual office work area where cooler light would be used to stimulate and awaken staff. The same applies to a bedroom, a blue light wouldn’t create a sleep friendly atmosphere compared to warm dimmers.

The day was a great success with the Philips team giving us a real insight into energy efficient lighting and the vast usage possibilities. I’ll keep you all updated on the progress of the the new lighting system in the studio’s and the feedback!

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Filed under Eco-friendly, lighting, modern design, News, The National Design Academy, www.nda.ac.uk

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