Office lighting

I’m curious about the office/studio lighting conditions in which other designers like to work.

Personally, I like to work in an office with dimmer, warmer lighting from a few desk lamps (2700–3000 K). I most definitely don’t like or feel comfortable in a brightly lit office with the stark white, overhead fluorescent tubes of a typical office.

The reason I ask is because I sometimes get comments from people (always from non-designers) that it’s weird. :roll_eyes:

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We used to constantly remove the fluorescent lights directly over us at a previous job until the building maintenance people “got it” and left them removed. It does seem to be a designer thing certainly. Our web team used to do the same even in another part of the building.

I actually prefer sun coming in through some nearby open windows, as long as the sun isn’t directly shining onto my monitors.

Back in my Director days I always had a quiet office where overhead lights were rarely on, if ever, and there was only the occasional smartass visitor commentary about it being “romantic” or how “a setting like this should really have an ice bucket and scotch decanter, not that you wouldn’t have to turn on some lights to be sure you weren’t pouring it down your leg.”

These days I’m chained to a small desk in an open Engineering bay thats filled past capacity with workbenches, test equipment, and the brightest lights and minds I’ve ever seen (and those ‘minds’ never stop talking, btw, so it’s noisy as hell too). The difference is near-literally night and day.

I do a fair amount of product photography, and getting the color accurate is important. So I have daylight balanced bulbs in my office to help me see the true color of the product.

However, my preferred lighting when I am designing is the natural light coming though the window with no additional lights on.

In terms of the physical lighting fixtures, they are recessed can lights on a dimmer.

I have a simple office lighting 5000 Kelvin LCD array above my desk for basic “natural” lighting.

TIP: CHEAP LIGHT for color correcting:
I priced out all sorts of artist and camera lights. They are all expensive as f (pardon me). So I went out and bought a makeup light and mirror set for $20 (yeah I know lol). I replaced the bulb with a natural light and took the mirror off so there is just a round light with a hole in the middle on a stand. That way I can get really close with the loop and don’t cast a shadow over it.

I have always preferred my own personal light vs huge florescent overhead … I hate them. And if they start to flicker at all … I’m woozy. Back when I had an office I had to have them remove the one right over my desk and use a desk lamp. I couldn’t function. Apparently my super power is to see a light flicker long before anyone else is bothered by it LOL :stuck_out_tongue: I’m sure they thought I was a nut job :wink:

We have nice recessed par cans, and used those until they stopped buying the lamps for them.
We use the overheads now, but only half of them ,and they have “daylight” tubes in them. Not good for color though.

Why do you say that?

Whatever brand they buy, the concept of daylight (in their “energy saver” tubes) and real daylight are miles apart. These are too green.

I’ve heard 5000K or 5500K for color correcting. Both are in the white to low warm range. Sounds like you have warm “daylight” bulbs.

There’s a difference between full-spectrum and daylight artificial lighting, and there’s even a lack of agreement about the terminology.

Natural sunlight contains a mix of all the varying wavelengths from the entire spectrum of visible light. It’s the mix of all these wavelengths that creates real daylight. Most so-called daylight lamps emit a much more restricted range of wavelengths that imitate real daylight by emitting wavelengths that concentrate on the average of those that natural sunlight contains. It looks about right to our eyes, but use a film camera to take a photo or try to grow plants in those conditions and things won’t go as planned. For the same reason, one’s perception of color can’t really be completely trusted in that kind of lighting.

Full-spectrum lighting, on the other hand, is an attempt at producing light with all the wavelengths present in just the right mix to simulate natural daylight. This is much harder to do since it requires a light source (or combinations of light sources) capable of emitting light in all the right frequencies and in just the right proportions to each other.

In other words, artificial light in the 5,000 to 6,000 kelvin range of sunlight isn’t necessarily equivalent to natural light. In addition, there’s another measurement to consider which is called the Color Rendering Index (CRI). Natural sunlight has a CRI of 100. CRI is a measurement of how accurately light reflects off objects in the colors that would be seen in natural sunlight. Some full-spectrum lights claim a CRI up to around 99. In addition, there’s a Correlated Color Temperature specification, but that’s another tangent.

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I have no idea what Kelvin they are. They are just “green.” To me. One of my co-workers thinks they are warmer. Next time I have to change one, I’ll see if they have a number on the box.

We color match under 5000K light sources.
However, the LEDs we use for TV backlighting are generally considered “cool white” but they are 6500K.

B, most of my print vendors keep their production techs in low-light areas, track lighting mostly. It’s always so cool to visit some of their work spaces. But you’ll always get witty comments. When we had the pars, that was always the case, mostly because most of the guys are working in what is basically a warehouse, but our offices were more like a quiet bistro. Mine, with all the fabric samples all over the place was once compared to an opium den (most of the samples were stock Shirleys - glamour shots with lots of color.)

Back in the paste-up era, we all used drafting tables with drafting lamps. A drafting lamp typically had a circular fluorescent tube surrounding a regular incandescent bulb. The whole point was to brightly illuminate the working area on the table in a, more or less, balanced spectrum of light while leaving the ambient light in the room low. I suspect my preference for working in a relatively darker office stems from those days.

Interesting. My space is divided in two. The workstation half has no overhead lighting. The other half (worktable) has two square 24" 4000K LED troffers (I replaced flourescents with these) on dimmers. I usually keep them dimmed out to about 50%, unless I’m working on my worktable. There’s also a small window with blind. (mostly closed) Total square footage is 250. The troffers are about 10’ away from my workstation, 8’ ceiling.

I’m in the process of getting my entire building on Philips Hue lights. 2700k is my sweet spot for computer work, but you really need 5000k to accurately view printed color. Being able to switch between these is amazing, highly recommend!

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