Human-centric lighting: Conscious lighting for business

No matter what your business is, lighting plays a significant role in the ambience you are trying to create. There is scientific research to support the psychology of lighting and its effects. Utilising it to the best effect possible can help to improve and achieve your workplace goals. 

For retail and hospitality it’s very important to tailor your atmosphere so that customers have positive experiences, spend more in the moment and wish to return. Lighting is even considerable enough to influence people’s buying habits. Consumers may shop with more purpose under brighter lighting. Intense lighting can heighten emotions and is associated with bargain shopping, so people are more likely to impulse-buy. Dimmer lighting, on the other hand, can evoke a sense of luxury or exclusivity. Next time you go shopping, take note of how the mood of a space affects your spending.

Scoop Wholefoods in The Junction uses brighter downlights over their products

Scoop Wholefoods in The Junction lights their large variety of products clearly for customers to see. Photography by Zoe Lonergan.

When it comes to the food industry, lighting can impact the way people perceive their dining experience. There is significant research from big food chains, such as KFC and McDonald’s, that have found evidence that red, yellow and orange colours can rouse hunger. A study published in Fast Food Nation dating back to the 1970s shows insight into how colour and lighting affects appetite and perception of food. Diners have been observed to underestimate proportion size with their lighting, for example softer lighting reduces hunger. It even affects how people discern spice in their food. Alternatively, dim lighting in fine dining restaurants fosters a perception of comfort, allowing patrons permission to take their time with their meal. Lighting even affects the wine industry. In 2009 researchers separated a group and gave them all the same wine but in different coloured rooms. The results were extremely different with people in the red room believing that the wine was richer and they would even pay more money for it!


Neds Bake cafe in Armadale uses soft downlighting over tables and chairs
Neds Bake in Armadale uses soft downlighting to enhance a sense of luxury. 
Photography by On Jackson Street.

In the office, lighting has a huge impact on employees’ productivity. For example, you may have noticed that if you’re indoors with dim lighting at 10am you may feel more tired compared to how you would usually feel at 10am sitting in natural light. Adversely, lights that are too bright can fatigue people’s eyes. It’s already easy to get distracted at work without being unnecessarily irritated by glare, so it’s critical to find the right balance for your team. In a recent study, workers exposed to circadian lighting demonstrated a 12% increase in productivity over a seven-month period. (2017, CBRE)

Harmac Homes head office uses decorative pendants supplemented by wall lamps and downlights

Harper pendants, Barkley wall lamps and Signature downlights providing purposeful illumination in the boardroom of the Harmac Homes head office.

There are a myriad of factors that are worth considering when styling your office or business such as the size, colour and purpose of the space. Additionally, it is important to note the positions, temperature and intensity of lighting as these will influence people’s moods. Good lighting design is well worth investing in.