Use concealed lighting to create atmosphere, highlight architectural features, and create the illusion of more space
Concealed lighting – when the source of light is hidden from view by the fabric of a building, but the light itself is still visible – is a very versatile tool. It can be used as a primary light source, a low-level accent light or in more creative and artistic ways. Like all architectural lighting, it needs to be considered early in the design process, and practical considerations, such as access and maintenance, need to be planned for, as well as how it looks. If it’s done well, it can blur the lines between natural light and artificial light, and bring drama, beauty and a sense of mystery to a space.
Accentuate natural light| The lighting in this kitchen sees a clever merging of natural and artificial light, making it a very bright and inviting place to be. This space works so well because the colour temperature of the lighting – between 3000K and 4000K – sits comfortably with the natural daylight. If the artificial light were warmer, it might draw attention and highlight its difference to the natural light, potentially creating a slightly dingy feel. Instead, it adds to the daylight and emphasises the strong architectural lines of the space. The coloured under-bench lighting makes a wonderfully warm and fun accent light.
Be careful with colour temperature| This bathroom shows how attention to colour temperature is critical to achieving the desired effect. There are low levels of natural light in the room, but instead of it feeling dark, the warm, golden tones provide a wonderful, ‘candle-like’ atmosphere – perfect for winding down at the end of a long day. This would be a fairly complex installation, and would require early planning and attention to detail, particularly regarding water and maintenance.
Heighten a room| Concealed linear lighting is often used to help visually raise the height of a space. Here, the cove lighting on the rear wall lifts the eye up, and works with the low-level lighting in the pool outside to create a greater feeling of vertical space. Achieving this effect needs careful advance planning. LEDs require a driver – the power supply for an LED system – and it’s important the drivers are situated within the correct operating distances. Siting the driver alongside the fitting can create a shadow on the light, so driver locations and cable routes need to be planned well in advance to avoid this.
Highlight a feature| Concealed lighting can make materials and finishes really stand out. Here, the concealed LED linear fitting makes a stunning feature of the textured stone-effect wall in the changing room, and almost gives the appearance of daylight coming in from above. The LEDs are warmed slightly with a colour filter so they don’t look too cold compared to the golden light sources in the sauna, but not so much as to take the colour out of the striking wall tiles.
Create art| Concealed linear lighting is so often associated with straight lines and sleek finishes, but there’s no reason this needs to be the case. Use linear lighting to highlight a pattern and make a feature out of your ceiling. This super centrepiece feature gives you an idea of all you can achieve.
Go outside| Concealed lighting can work wonderfully well outdoors, where there is less need for direct light in the evenings. It provides enough lighting for everyone to be able to see, but keeps it wonderfully low-level and atmospheric. Protection against water ingress is essential. Fittings need to be at least IP65 rated, and the cable connection is equally important. Most external lighting failures aren’t to do with the fittings themselves, but how they were installed, so ensure that any cable connections are completely sealed.
Let the lines shine| The clever lighting in this design transforms these shelves into sculpture. It’s a wonderful example of using light as art by building it into the fabric of the interior. It works so well because the light source is hidden while being in full view. It’s not clear whether the thick diffuser is part of the fitting itself or whether it’s a separate cover but, either way, it’s doing an effective job at concealing the actual diodes. If not concealed, these would give you a dotty effect.
Light up as well as down| Concealed lighting behind this mirror helps to create even, shadow-free lighting. Lighting from above as well as below reduces shadows from downlights and, coupled with direct light sources elsewhere in the room, provides great make-up lighting. Developments in high-quality LED lighting have greatly improved the colour rendering for this style of light. A fluorescent would work well, as it has a 360 degree range, which would give great coverage. Whichever route is chosen, it’s essential to observe IP rating requirements.
Mix linear and circular| This contemporary kitchen features a strong linear wash along the top of the units. It balances the natural daylight coming in from the other side of the room, and provides a strong sightline at night. The high ceiling in this space is perfect for this sort of linear application, as there is sufficient height for the wash to diffuse across the space. It contrasts beautifully with the spherical pendant lighting in the dining area – the strong architectural lines are softened by the delicate cascading chandelier.
Make it float| The uplighting here creates an illuminated area that prevents the eye from fully seeing where the wall ends and the stairs begin. It gives the impression of a floating staircase on a cushion of light and is testimony to the visual power of concealed lighting.