Lighting a home is an art form that most interior designers, architects, artists and feng shui consultants do not fully understand. After visiting hundreds of poorly-lit homes, many with millions of dollar of decor inside, I can attest to this fact. Since we all can’t run out today and hire a professional lighting designer, I had the pleasure of talking with Lawrence Berman, founder of famed Feng Shui Lighting, who filled us in on both the importance of light and some specific ways you can use light to bring your feng shui to life! This is a subject you can’t afford to miss!
Lawrence Berman (or LB, as I was introduced) is a master of feng shui light. Although he began his career in the lighting industry as a manufacturer’s representative, a trip to a 25-year-old Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia proved to be a game-changer in his career. He wondered why this restaurant felt so good inside, and how it managed to stay in business for such a long stretch of time where most restaurants falter. The restaurant owner told him how he worked with a feng shui consultant when designing the space. Feng Shui Lighting was born in that moment, 20 years ago. As LB explains, “You can have beautiful walls, art and furnishings in full color, but if its not illuminated its like watching a black and white TV show. My job is to illuminate spaces and specific objects and areas that support people’s intentions.” Needless to say, I had a ton to ask!!!
How do you create lighting fixtures specifically to feng shui spaces?
LB: Your eye goes where light is shining, so we work to illuminate objects and areas based on the needs of the client and the space. We often work with interior designers or architects and feng shui consultants and we tailor the lighting to the situation. For example, we had a client that was opening a new office so we illuminated custom-made panels to enhance the energy of growth. If you need a globe light that looks like papyrus, or like leaves, or any color or texture, we do infinite types of finishes custom, or we will find whatever you need to fulfill your vision. As another example, we did a large casino project in Pennsylvania, Sugarhouse, and created “eye candy” lights to change the atmosphere with colored orbs.
What are the worst lighting problems you typically see?
LB: While I’m not big on general answers, there are a few things that really go wrong in both home and office light that are common.
“Glare Bombs”– big spots of glare from lighting is a big one. You shouldn’t be able to see the source of light in a room (in other words, you should’t see big splotches of light around your home from recessed lighting, etc)…
Another, is the color-rendering of bulbs. To make it simple, different light bulbs give off different colors of light which affect how true you see colors. If you have bad colored light in your dining room or kitchen, your food will not be appealing….
Also, people usually have recessed light or lamps but neglect lighting the vertical plane— in other words, they don;t put lights on the walls. Wall sconces and the like are really important. Vertical light is often ignored because no one thinks about it but they know something is missing…
For someone at home that wants to make changes to their lighting to enhance their home energy, where do they begin? New light bulbs?
LB: Yes, full-spectrum bulbs that you can buy in most stores are a goos starting point because the color in your home will be more true. I use Halogen MR16 bulbs at home in most places where I care about aesthetics.
For recessed lighting, make sure that the bulbs have a wide “spread” to diffuse light rather than creating those glare-bombs I talked about. Spread is like the spray on a garden hose. A wide spread will water the flowers with a fine mist, and a tight spread will clean the dirt off the sidewalk with force. A wide spread helps reduce glare. And if you want to highlight specific objects on a wall for emphasis, like a wedding photo, you can point one “tighter spread” bulb toward it. You direct the space with light as if your home was a theater.
I also love dimmers to have control over lighting. I use my dimmers constantly, and sophisticated electronics companies can even store your pre-set lighting for different events like “dinner” or “cocktail hour” or whatever you want, so you can push the button and have new light for each part of the day. The advances in this technology make these different light arrangements so easy to switch, its amazing. I do adjust lighting depending on what we are doing at home and that’s why dimmers are great.
What about the Eco-Bulbs? I personally can’t handle they give off, plus, they’ve been filled with mercury…!
When all is said and done, it is more eco-friendly to keep lights off at home as much as possible. If you are using great lightbulbs to create a beautiful space for a few hours a day, an eco-bulb will not make a huge energy savings but do tend to create bad light. They are improving all the time, but I prefer higher-quality light turned on for fewer hours in a day to be Green, which is very important.
I could’t agree more & being green is very important! What’s next for you and Feng Shui Lighting?
It is always evolving. Though we started residentially, we mainly do large commercial projects now. I know how powerful feng shui is, and I am interested in making a positive contribution to people through feng shui and light.
and… I love that!!!
Thank you to LB for sharing this incredible wisdom!!! You can follow Feng Shui Lighting on Facebook to see what they are innovating next! I don’t know about you, but I’m about to go look for a few wall sconces for my bedroom…!