How to Light, Office

How to Light: Three ways to light an office reception

As the saying goes: ‘You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.’ So the entrance area to your offices must be right.

The main consideration is to think about the whole area and how it will be seen when someone first enters. If not, you end up simply lighting a desk in front of a plain wall.

Bright and airy

Good vertical illumination is essential. You must make the space look bright and airy. There will probably be a name plate or sign on the rear wall, so this too must draw the attention of visitors. If there is a full-time receptionist, there must be enough light for them to be able to do their work. EN 12464 recommends 300 lx, although it is most probably better to design to a higher level so people’s attention is drawn to the area.

Visitors often have to wait in reception areas, so most have easy chairs and a low table. There must be enough light here for visitors to read your company literature (or remember what they said in their CVs).

Reception areas vary enormously in size and shape. This Design Clinic area is about 8.5m wide and 6.5m from back to front. A 3m-high ceiling enables us to use suspended luminaires to good effect.

Splendent Pendant

Splendent Pendant

The beauty of this scheme is the satin glass pendants. They immediately draw your attention to the reception desk. The source is 26W CFL. Trilux has sensibly put a decent reflector inside, so this is an efficient luminaire for its type.

Elsewhere, we have used the distinctive Polaron with LEDs to light the remainder of the area. This ceiling-mounted luminaire, with its annular diffuser puts a lot of light on the walls and people’s faces. It’s the brightest and lightest looking of our three options.

Don’t forget that whenever you mix light sources (such as CFL and LED) you must match the colour appearance or CCT. People won’t notice a difference in CRI, but differences in CCT are clearly visible.

The advantage of this scheme is that the space looks light and airy. We are getting 300 lx in all the important areas and the walls and ceiling also receive a lot of light.


Luminaires Six Merano pendant and 10 Polaron

Optical control Various

Average illuminance 300  lx

Electrical load 11W/m2

Typical cost >£2,000

Pros Distinctive appearance

Cons Heaviest electrical load and capital cost

A fine line

A fine line

Never do a lighting scheme without considering T5. This time, we have used Solvan suspended direct/indirect 54W units. These particular units have a slim cross-section of
80 x 70mm. To create more interest, we have used the version with a matt black finish. I think it adds a touch of class.

For a reception area, there is no reason to have the luminaires in a regimented pattern, so we have livened up the space with a zig-zag row leading to the staircase and offices beyond.

As with any direct/indirect system, there is plenty of light on the ceiling and the upward light creates an interesting zig-zag pattern. Again, it breaks the mould of a conventional installation.

As a result of the reflected light from the ceiling, there is plenty of light high up the walls.


Luminaires Solvan B with 54W T5

Optical control Reflector plus diffuser

Average illuminance >300 lx

Electrical load 9W/m2

Typical cost <£1,000

Pros Plenty of light on the ceiling

Cons Slim construction limits LOR

A star soloution

A star soloution

Here is some sparkle with a star-studded ceiling. The Aurista has five LED modules in a 600mm recessed unit. You can also construct special shapes using individual modules and this is what we have done for the reception desk using a seven-star zig-zag arrangement. Those of you lucky enough to have visited the last Light + Building show in Frankfurt will recognise where the idea came from.

This has the highest delivered horizontal illumination of the three options. One reason for this is that most of the light is within a 90-degree cone (2 x 45 degrees). This fairly sharp cut-off also reduces reflections in computer screens, so the Aurista has a lot of applications in general offices.

The big advantage is the low electrical load of 5W/m2. The upper regions of the walls and the ceiling may be a bit darker, but this is offset by the overall efficiency of the luminaire.


Luminaires Aurista modular recessed unit with five LEDs

Optical control Specular reflector

Average illuminance  >300 lx

Electrical load 5W/m2

Typical cost <£1,000

Pros Lowest electrical load

Cons Slightly darker ceiling than other options