The future of lighting: LEDs lead the way

"I can't stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action," said Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams' play,
A Streetcar Named Desire, and there aren't many women over the age of twenty-five who would disagree. But good lighting is no longer about a pendant hanging in the middle of the room, or even a couple of strategically placed table lamps. Today, design-savvy homeowners are making use of increasingly sophisticated lighting schemes and technology to create a home that is more ambient and energy efficient than ever before.

Search for the perfect furniture with The Independent house and home database, powered by mydeco. 

"Awareness of good lighting has really grown over the last decade," says lighting architect Mark Major, of Speirs and Major Associates, which has undertaken prestigious lighting projects for St Paul's, the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi, Stockton-on-Tees' Infinity Bridge and the Gherkin, as well as private residential commissions.

"People expect to have more control over their lighting: they want to be able to change the mood, dim the lighting and, in some cases, create colour and effects. They're also much more conscious of light as a commodity that we have to handle with care and respect." It's not just those employing specialist designers whose lighting is more sophisticated. House builders, Mark says, are engaging more with lighting design, as are people going to hotels or restaurants, who now expect a well-thought out lighting scheme as an inherent part of environments associated with comfort and well-being.

The ways in which lighting can help create a sense of well-being is something being explored in the House of the Future at this year's Grand Designs Live (1-9 May, Excel). Sponsored by Phillips Lighting, the display will showcase the innovative LED (Light-Emitting-Diode) and OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology, innovations that are "driving everything forward" at the moment, according to Mike Simpson, Technical and Design Director at Phillips. He comments, "LED technology has opened up so many possibilities in terms of its ability to reduce carbon and give us instant control of light."

It's also changed the idea of what lighting components look like. In the future, Mike says, we won't have the round bulb that you put into a lamp and change when it fails – you'll buy the thing that produces the light, which has a certain aesthetic design and which will last much longer than what we're used to.

"Lighting," he observes, "can now be flatter, slimmer, neater, more diffuse. It's just a completely new world."

It certainly is – particularly when you consider that lighting can now take on a role, which in the past, your paint or wallpaper might have fulfilled. "Once you've got relatively neutral colours on your wall, then how that wall appears is much more down to the lighting," says Mike. This makes the interior design of your home a much more flexible thing – something that, unlike paint, can be switched off or changed according to your mood.

Such integration of light into our home decoration is something that we can expect to see more of in the future, says Ray Molony, chairman of the judges at this year's Lighting Design Awards, who, alongside increased use of LEDs, expects to see lighting "built into furniture and surfaces" with "more controls for energy saving and creating moods."

LED lighting might be energy efficient, flexible and long lasting, but it still has a way to go before the quality and output is up there with halogens, says Andrew Johnson, Associate at Bruce Munro Ltd, and that puts people off. It’s not only that. With LED lights around five to ten times as expensive as halogens, they are still far too pricey for the average home owner.

The good news is that you shouldn't have too long to wait before these problems are rectified. As Mark Major says, "The rate of development is just incredible. I have no doubt at all that within the next few years, LEDs will be quite common place."

Emily Jenkinson is interiors writer for furniture and interior design website

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform