Before I dive into this topic, I want to mention that this question in no way an insult or a blanket statement of all design professionals but it is a reflection on what I am seeing and where the opportunity lies to better involve our clients and suppliers in more thorough discussions about lighting needs. I think it is high time that designers need to put their foot down and refuse to strike good lighting in the kitchen, bath, dining and living spaces from our budgets. There are compromises we can make in other areas because the world needs good lighting. We all know that we need lighting to move around, that is called general lighting. We also need lighting to work or perform an activity, that is called task lighting. And then we like to focus lighting on something special, like artwork, and that is called accent lighting. There are only the three kinds, but it can be used to visually queue- like the strip lighting on the stairs at the movie theatre - and evoke an emotion but there must be task and general lighting in every room.
Today, I am focusing on ceiling pendents and their use in activity spaces in the kitchen - the eating centre. The centre where we sustain ourselves and the whole point of the kitchen. Ceiling pendants are fixtures hung and hardwired into that junction box in the ceiling. They typically hang over top of a foyer, table, work-surface or sometimes a living space. You should know that according to the Canadian Electric Code, a ceiling pendant is not permitted over a bathtub at all, so there is no point in discussing it.
I have a few big crushes right now in lighting. One is on Tom Dixon (www.tomdixon.net) and right now his lighting is hands down the most elegant, utilitarian, industrial, fluid, and organic lighting going right now. He is textural, he is smooth, he is metallic He is pretty much a biomorphic lighting design god.
I know that a Tom Dixon light is not for a budget project or for the faint of heart, but I do employ you to look deeper into the lighting collection and see that there is more than just a light fixture happening, there is an evocative emotion.
I do have a go-to fixture for almost any application: Saturnia Pendent by Robert Abbey (www.robertabbey.com) This pendent comes in a grey or linen shade with a diffuser at the bottom of the shade (handy for dining height by avoiding glare in guests eyes.) For around the $350 CND mark, you can have a beautiful, simple, elegant and timeless lighting fixture. I have used this fixture so many times in so many situations that I can not even count on all my fingers and toes.
What I enjoy about the Robert Abbey lighting collection in general is that there is something for everyone. From the Jonathan Adler Sputnik designs to the softly industrial styles of Rico Espinet, Abbey does a great job of all sorts of styles.
When considering ceiling pendents in a kitchen, there are three basic rules of thumb: 1) They should be hung 27" above a seated dining table (or 56" above finished floor); 2) Hung 30" above a work-surface or island seating (or 66" above finished floor, or 5-foot 5-inches); 3) Spaced no greater than 30" apart (in threes or fours) at an island where work is taking place. In my experience, these are the best dimensions for the majority of people and the majority of situations.
I do not personally subscribe to the requirement that all lighting must be on dimmers, or that all lighting must be a certain lux level in the room. Those calculations and switching needs depend on the individual client. With the right amount of switches and lighting control with decorative lighting (not hard wired) anyone can achieve the right amount lighting for living.
I hope that debunks some of the apprehensions on specifying lighting. If someone is willing to donate to my lamp addiction, I'm currently drooling over the Delta table lamp in Apple.
For more of my lighting favourites from Tom Dixon and Robert Abbey, see my Pinterest board below: