The Lighting Doctor

colorful, theatrical lighting at Rothy's shoe store.
Rothy's shoe store transforms it's visuals at night with colorful lighting.
During the day I had passed by Rothy’s shoe store, located in the Upper Fillmore shopping district of San Francisco, many times. They manufacture a line of fashionable shoes made from recycled… more
pendants
The deeply shielded pendant fixtures offer illumination for dining without casting harsh shadows on people’s faces. Lighting below the counter shows off the tile detailing and subtly invites people up to the counter. The lighting inside the open kitchen matches the color temperature of the lighting within the restaurant so that feels more integrated into the overall setting. (Photos: Randall Whitehead)

Working with an architect and understanding a space's purpose can help direct lighting choices.

CPMC Hospital in San Francisco is a good example of Resimercial Design
CPMC hospital has just opened up in San Francisco. The furnishings and the lighting give it the feel of a contemporary hotel. Warm colored LEDs, Integrated into the architecture and decorative fixtures, add to the allure.
For those of you who are not familiar with the term, resimercial, it refers to the trend that we’re seeing in commercial spaces where they are now being designed to have a more residential appearance… more
Randall Whitehead, the Lighting Doctor, chandeliers and pendants
LEDs allow designers and manufacturers to create fixtures that were not possible, using traditional light sources. Photo by Randall Whitehead
What differentiates a chandelier from a pendant? For me, the rule of thumb was that a chandelier had arms and a pendant fixture does not. It was also generally felt that chandeliers are more… more
The Lighting Doctor talks about the importance of layered lighting
These pendant fixtures help create an intimate seating area within a much large space.
I really like the trend of hanging multiple fixtures in a space. Visually, something happens that turns the fixtures into more than just lighting. They become room dividers or can help make rooms… more
Lighting Functions
Different Lights for different purposes
Lighting really does have a language to it. There are terminologies to help us categorize the specific jobs they have in creating a cohesive lighting design. While we are now adjusting to some of… more
There are just a few lighting fixture designers that have stayed in the public consciousness over the years. One of them, a favorite of mine, is Isamu Noguchi. His light sculptures, made of simple… more
Stone wall and iron bookshelf with backlighting
This elegant stone wall is dramatically illuminated, using a wall grazer which projects a light straight down the very narrow beam spread. Photo: Randall Whitehead
Washing walls with light has become a whole lot easier. Before LEDs came along, you were pretty much stuck with track lights, using flood bulbs or recessed fixtures with reflectors and spread lenses… more
Sculpture with lighting shining on it
When accent lighting is done effectively it moves people’s gaze throughout the space. Recessed adjustable fixtures, using LED MR 16 lamps, help add focus to the art and decorative objects. (Photo: Randall Whitehead)
Good lighting design uses various types of illumination to create an inviting overall environment. As you have heard me say before, the best lighting happens when you layer different types of… more

Whether for reading or a decorative accent next to the bed, lamps can enhance the design of a bedroom. 

photo wall illuminated
2700K linear LED lighting (made by Aion LED, www.aionled.com), is housed in an aluminum extrusion at the front edge of the shelving, evenly illuminates the collection of photographs. Photography: Dennis Anderson
Yes, I’m totally obsessed with LEDs. Admittedly, we got off to a rough start in the beginning. They got introduced onto the market a little too early. They didn’t have much lumen output, the color… more
light play and shadow
This perforated metal fixture by Susan Durazo (suesilluminationscreations.com) adds a lot dimension to the walls and ceiling. It's amazing how something so simple and beautiful can have such impact.
When people are designing the lighting for their homes, they're thinking about lighting the art and the table tops or illumination for the bathrooms and in closets, but what they may not be… more
People may not realize it, but lighting fixtures do fall in and out of fashion, just like clothing. I look at the light fixtures that I had hanging in my house in the 1980's and I shudder. Some… more
outdoor lighting ideas house facade
Well done exterior lighting draws people to a home without visually overpowering the architecture or the landscaping. Photo by Misha Bruk.

Exterior lighting can enhance the visual appeal of a home from the curb.

bedroom linear cove lighting
Bedside lamps are beautiful, but can be uncomfortable for the other person in bed who is trying to sleep. Photography by Dennis Anderson.

The right bedroom task lighting can make reading in bed more enjoyable and easier on the eyes.

   LED stairwell lights
Traditional step lights don’t light stairs evenly, but there are newer options available now that do. Photography by Randall Whitehead.

Whether indoors or out, there are many options for lighting stairwells, and Randall Whitehead breaks them down here.

Recessed fixtures have become a standard part of home interiors. Since the 1990s, people have been stuck with what I call the "contractor’s special," which is a grid of 6-inch-diameter downlights per… more
How do you know when to use a clear bulb or frosted bulb? There are no hard and fast rules, but luckily you’ve asked somebody who has strong opinions. First off, just to be confusing, light bulbs… more