Interior lighting is as much about function as it is style. It’s a balance of maintaining some dark with the light, a play of form and function while avoiding glare and too much light within a space. Southampton-based lighting designer, artist, steampunk aficionado and author Art Donovan has some trade secrets to keep lighting harmonious, trendy and aesthetically pleasing.
Long Island Pulse: What is a good rule of thumb for interior lighting?
Art Donovan: Create pools of light rather than illuminating an area and making it look like an operating room. What I like to do is reflect light off the walls—it gives a beautiful ambient glow, and it’s not glaring…it doesn’t illuminate the entire space, which makes it much more inviting and livable. It’s okay to have a little darkness.
Pulse: What’s the best way to create reflected light?
AD: The trick is trying to shield the direct glare of the bulb, in particular how the bulb is pointed and the shade around it. For example, if it’s an open bulb and you have a translucent shade around it, you will get light upwards and downwards, but that shade is going to be brightly illuminated and you don’t want that. You want that shade dark or opaque to shield the glare. Use a larger translucent shade when you want more diffuse lighting, like for task lighting in an office or workspace or even near a chair for reading, where you want brighter light to see what you’re working on. The larger the shade the better the diffusion.
Pulse: How about bathroom lighting where there are a lot of reflective surfaces?
AD: What you’re trying to do in the bathroom is to have indirect light away from your eye. Very often you have a combination of wall lamps and ceiling lights and you balance those two lights on dimmers so you’re not getting the glare. You want to avoid harsh shadows.
Pulse: What’s an easy, flexible way to add design into any lighting scheme?
AD: Smaller table lamps. They’re usually at least half the size, sometimes one-quarter the size of a standard table lamp and they’re beautiful things. You can place them on a sideboard, on a shelf, in a corner or on a table and they just give that little spark of illumination to a particular area. And they can be as decorative as you want because of their diminutive size. They’re very adaptable.