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How LED Changes the Possibilities in Commercial Lighting

In different city commercial settings, LED lighting ups the ambience in these New York spots.

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Randall Whitehead, LED Lighting, New York City
In this art installation, the lighting, while subtle, adds dimension. All images from Randall Whitehead.

While wandering around the streets of New York City, I took note of the lighting. I know, it’s a big shock.  At night, when the businesses are closed, is a great time to take pictures. Here is a little technique that helps you take better images.  Place your phone directly on the glass. This does two things. First off, it eliminates reflections.  Secondly, the placement acts as a tripod so your image isn’t blurry. Try it out. You will thank me later.

Lighting Doctor Randall Whitehead Lobby

Of course, it’s all about LED lighting these days. You can have a retro look or something that feels sci-fi modern. For instance, take a look at this chandelier located in the lobby of a boutique hotel ( shown above). I would call this style Erector Set-Moderne. The use of the Edison style LED globe lamps helps soften the look. I am not usually a fan of bare bulbs, but in this instance I think they work. They have a CRI of 95 and a warm color temperature 2200 K. They stay on all day, every day. So using a light source with a long lamp life makes sense. 

Lighting Doctor Randall Whitehead Hotel Entry

I was pretty enthralled with the lighting of this retail space (shown above). The risers of the stairways are constructed of glass block. These blocks are backlit with linear LED strips. The diodes are spaced 4 inches apart so that they line up with a pattern of the floor tiles. This lighting visually draws you in, and makes you want to ascend the stairs. 

The additional lighting is subtle, yet effective. Here again, like in the hotel, the pendant fixtures are using an Edison style LED filament bulb. The low wattage and the warm color temperature allow them to glow and not visually overpower the space. The niches, off to the right, have LED strip lighting installed behind a trim board which is located at the front face of the casework. This allows the products in each of the sections to be illuminated evenly. Track lighting is tucked into slots which are part of a floating wood ceiling.

Lighting Doctor Randall Whitehead Ceiling Lights

I am a little on the fence in regard to the lighting of this entry way (shown above). It is definitely intriguing, and certainly caught my eye. It is a relatively narrow space, so the idea of lighting recessed into the walls and ceiling makes sense.It is also kind of artistic. I guess my issue is the color of the walls and the color temperature of the lighting. It feels a little too cold. I would like to warm up the Kelvin rating of the linear recessed LEDs. I would also like to see a warmer color on the left-hand wall. There could even be subtle gradations of color in between the vertical strips of lights. These colors could also extend out onto the ceiling.  The panels on the right are back-painted glass.They would reflect whatever colors were chosen. So, building manager if you are reading this, please take advantage of this free advice.

Lighting Doctor Randall Whitehead lighting bar

OK, this is really fascinated me.  I could see it from across the street. This is a series of ceramic tusks or centipede legs or eyelashes which are installed over a bar (shown above). The same LED lighting, which under-lights the liquor bottles, also provides the illumination for the art. As the light passes through the bottles it projects subtle color variations onto the underside of the ceramic projections. I found it disturbingly beautiful.

randall whitehead, commercial lighting

Here is a close-up of the installation (shown above). This simple lighting added so much dimensionality. I just sat there for a long time, nursing a cocktail, and drinking it in.

Randall Whitehead headshot

Randall Whitehead is an educator and author on the subject of lighting design. His work has been featured in many magazines, including Architectural Digest, Home & Garden and Esquire. He has appeared as a guest expert on HGTV, Discovery, CNN and Martha Stewart Living Radio.

His Latest book Beautiful Light outlines how to create successful and subtly beautiful LED lighting designs for homes and gardens. Available through Amazon and Rutledge Books.

You can see his entertaining 1-minute instructional videos at furniturelightingdecor.com. And you can follow him on Instagram:  @randall.whitehead


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