Dining is a visceral everyday human experience. We plan and talk about our dining experiences almost as much as we talk about the weather, maybe more. What do you want for dinner tonight? Our collective vocabulary describing the dining experience is personal, sensory and passionate. We take the alchemy of food and drink seriously!
Light defines the dining experience. It sets your expectations for what is to come…the bright lights of your neighborhood McDonald’s communicate a different story and sense of welcome than the warm, soft glow of your favorite Italian place. Light nudges us to feel while we eat, drink and share stories with friends and family.
Restaurants require special consideration in lighting, and given three important trends today- the “mainstreaming” of LED lighting on the market, delivering distinctive dining experiences that reflect the attitude and ethos of the restaurant’s brand and the need for more energy efficient lighting in general- restaurateurs and designers need guidance in navigating the design and technical issues inherent in restaurant lighting today.
I was one of the early proponents of LED lighting many years ago, completing my first project in 2004, and it still amazes me how many problems many owners, designers, and installers have in designing with and selecting LED lighting, especially in restaurants. LED lamps and luminaires are now available that will match every desired dining experience, with all the energy efficiency expected from LEDs. And compatibility problems are getting much easier to solve if you follow a few basic rules like looking for pre-tested dimmer/transformer combinations, sizing for in-rush current, and using reputable, high performance LED solutions from credible companies like Soraa.
LEDs can be used in many different applications to create a comfortable and nuanced dining atmosphere, even in fast food environments. Designing with the six layers of light will transform any space, enhancing ambiance and providing a much more enjoyable customer experience than simple, static uniform lighting. Lighting has a significant impact on how interior and exterior spaces are perceived. Diverse intensities, textures and colors of light will order the visual importance of the space, indicate circulation paths, highlight art and interior details and encourage social interaction. Lighting in restaurants also has a large impact on the food - light with point source definition and full visible spectrum color rendering makes food look more appetizing, bringing out its true colors and textures and making dining more pleasurable and memorable. The most successful restaurant designs provide a dining experience that stimulates all the senses, especially sight, and lighting plays a significant part in driving sales in hospitality.
Today, with the correct combination of people-inspired design and the best LED technology, designers can specify lighting with no compromises, fully energy efficient with low operating and maintenance costs that unleashes the enchanting power of food and drink to connect people and their stories together in the everyday dining experience.