Wellness and Lighting Design

Spa lighting design

Wellness projects are among some of the most indulgent within hospitality projects striving to provide a quality atmosphere for relaxation and rest. The pampering within these spaces may be considered a luxury but it does allow for physical and mental recovery and to diminish levels of stress that may lead to real physical symptoms and problems.

Whether for therapeutic reasons or simply for relaxation, the end goal is well-being. Light performance is critical in wellness projects. As a unique application, these areas require lower light levels and more emphasis on the ambiance and atmosphere as created by the design team.

With most hospitality projects, the colour temperatures of lighting schemes usually ranges between 2700K and 3000K for warmth and to mimic the visual effects of filament lamps. Today, however, with the development of new LED technologies, we can source light fixtures with even warmer colour temperatures, such as that of a candle (1800K), and others which have been developed to enable interior spaces to mimic daylight cycles and improve the circadian rhythm, changing from warm to cooler colour temperatures through the use of a dimmer or lighting control system. With this new technology, we can programme spaces to have a soft dynamic shift in colour temperature throughout the day, which can be beneficial to wellness projects.

Another important factor in the choice of light fixtures for wellness projects is the colour rendition which enables you to see the accurate colour of skin tone, fabrics and finish materials. A CRI (colour rendering index) higher than 82 is today the minimal acceptable colour rendition for LED light fixtures. However, referring again to the latest developments in research and technology, the TM-30-15 is a new and improved IES method for measuring the relative saturation of different hues of white light sources, using the fidelity index (Rf), gamut index (Rg) and a colour vector graphic.

With better means to determine and evaluate the colour rendition of the light emitted by LEDs manufacturers have improved and developed ranges of fixtures that can enhance the visual appearance and colour of one’s skin for cosmetic applications, heighten the hues of artwork and fabrics, and even enhance the appearance of meat and vegetables in a supermarket.

For a prestigious project such as wellness, it would be correct to say that the colour rendition for the selected light fixtures should not be below CRI 90, with attention to the colour scheme and material selection of the interior spaces and how the selected fixtures’ colour renderings may enhance the scheme. These factors are relevant as the goal is to enhance the atmosphere, the general experience and the perception of ones’ self-esteem.

The atmosphere is always created in close collaboration with the interior design team.

While creating a mood, the use of indirect lighting from ceiling coves or lighting integrated in niches and joinery, the selection of the decorative fixtures such as chandeliers, pendants, wall sconces, table lamps and lanterns, the accents to artwork and features, are all tools to complement the character and style of the space and to tell the story. Every space has a story to tell, a narrative which led to the choice of colour scheme and material selection, furniture style and mood. The lighting designer complements this narrative providing the right tools to create the right atmosphere, often searching for new and better ways to achieve it.

The lighting control system is an important tool to achieve the required atmosphere in every space. Considering that different light fixtures have different lumen outputs, and that these once combined in the same space should complement each other, it is only through the use of a lighting control system that we’re able to dim and control the different lumen outputs for optimum balance and hierarchy of the lighting elements. Once balanced, the scenes are then created for the different times of day. Each space has a function and specific scenes to suit its use.

Treatment rooms are a good example of this as scenes can be created from the moment the guest arrives to the start of the treatment when the guest is lying face down to when they turn face up and afterwards when the treatment is over for the clean-up and re-setting of the space. Whether the light sources are at low level or ceiling recessed, the avoidance of glare and shielding direct light to the guest’s eyes is extremely important and should be complemented by the correct dimming scene.

Higher illuminances are only necessary for task areas such as vanity counters and hair styling areas where good facial illumination should be provided avoiding unwanted shadows under the eyes, nose and chins. As in any application, the optical control of light fixtures is of great importance to deliver the adequate light to the space or task area free of glare.

Daylight should also always be considered as a light source. Although more critical for architecture and interior design spaces daylight can be an incredible tool but one which requires attention to avoid harsh contrasts and glare. We do need to maintain a balance of daylight with artificial light, and avoid negative thermal gains.

Wellness projects are not necessarily exclusive to luxury developments as the principles can be applied in residential projects as the aim of well-being is to provide comfort and relaxation, improve the quality of sleep and enhance the quality of work spaces, and we should use the knowledge from different disciplines and scientific research to improve quality of life in general. Light has an incredible impact on our lives and we can, through the use of lighting, improve the quality of life in any given space.