It’s perhaps the number one complaint heard from lighting designers: that light doesn’t get considered early enough on projects.
So it was great to hear encouraging words on the topic from lighting professionals in the retail sector at last week’s Lighting for Retail & Hospitality conference at LuxLive in London.
Matt Love, who looks after lighting at Tesco, said light has become a much more integral part of the design process in retail. “These days lighting is integrated into the whole concept and experience from day one,” he said. The flexibility of LED has made lighting “easier and much more interesting for designers to get to grips with”, he said, so it’s more likely to be considered from the start of a project, rather than just as an afterthought.
Peter Fordham of Sainsbury’s agreed, saying a big part of his job is “making sure we get included as part of the design”, and that designers are “absolutely buying into” the idea that light needs to be considered and integrated into the design of all areas of a store.
Guido Fox of German lighting supplier Oktalite said: “A couple of years ago lighting was always the last thing to take care of, everything was done before and all of a sudden they say, we need lighting and they’d give us a call on Monday and they need lighting by Friday. That, from my point of view, changed dramatically. The entire branding is now incorporated into the lighting design as well. All of this needs to be taken into consideration to come up with a solution.”
Fox was involved with a recent trial of human-centric lighting in a supermarket in Germany, which has been credited with increasing sales by 28% compared to another nearby store.
Part of the reason for the increase in attention paid to lighting seems to be retailers’ focus on creating a memorable experience, as they seek to compete with online. Susan Lake of Susan Lake Lighting Design said: “I think it’s really important to make an experience now, so the client understands that lighting is really important and that if you don’t get the lighting right, the whole interior fails. It’s really crucial to getting people in and making them stay and spend money, and return.”
James Poore of JPLD said: “When I first started off in lighting it was very much last minute. Now we actually get involved in writing [lighting] guidelines. It’s becoming more about creating a sense of place, creating an environment that is about something more than just going in and buying something, it’s about creating an experience, a place you want to be in.”