Light is one of the most important elements in our daily lives, yet so many homes suffer from insufficient, poorly planned or bad lighting. But it doesn’t mean you can just add a bunch of lamps to your home and everything is settled. The saying “the more the merrier” doesn’t necessary apply in this case. The key is to find that right balance between functionality, ambience, natural, comfort and style.
When it comes to interior design, lighting is actually the most crucial step. It should be planned at an early stage rather than later when all other objects have found its spot. By doing this you can bring your space to a whole other level and create fascinating scenes. Well planned lighting in your home doesn’t only provide comfort and atmosphere, it also lowers energy consumption and cut down on cost. However, not everyone has the time, recourses or energy to follow all the steps to a perfect home, so we have collected a list of 5 basic tips that will help you on the way to a better lit home!
1. Know the four basics
General Lighting- General lighting radiates a comfortable level of brightness, enabling one to see and walk around safely. Suitable fixtures would be; Traditional big lamp/ pendant lamp in the center of the ceiling, wall washers, floor lamps with soft light or fixtures that you direct towards the wall or ceiling to create an indirect reflecting light.
Task Lighting- Illuminates a particular area aimed at a specific task, like food preparation, reading and working/studying. Suitable fixtures to be used for this; reading lamps, spot-lights, pendant lamps and desk lamps.
Decorative Lighting- Probably the most fun of them all (if you love home decor). Decorative lighting draws attention to itself and can sometimes be the centerpiece of a room. This is the category where you can really show off your personal style and mix and match with other materials, colors and details in your home. Suitable fixtures: Pendant lamps, table lamps, light chains, floor lamps, chandeliers, lanterns etc.
Accent light- With this kind of fixtures, you want to create atmosphere and mood by focusing attention to particular objects. For example: Enhancing some of your artwork, a design piece or architectural features, also to spotlight paintings, houseplants or highlight the texture of a wall. Suitable fixtures; Ranging from track, spot, downlights, pendants, recessed or wall mounted lighting to candles, lanterns and other mood enhancing light.
2. Layer the light
In interior design terms, layering means putting together different textures, colors, materials etc. to create visual balance in the room. So basically layering light is all about combining the 4 basic types of lighting to create atmosphere in your home while providing useful light for different types of activities throughout the day. Start by identifying the main activity or the focal point for each and every room, this is where the brightest layer should be directed (task & accent light). The next step is a middle layer of light, this will be specific areas that you wish to light up without distracting the focal points and then the last layer is the background light (general light). When these layers are all in place you can add the fun decorative lighting.
3. Dimmers are your best friend
When it comes to creating atmosphere and visual balance as mentioned above, it is essential to use dimmers throughout your home. They let you easily change mood and feel of a room. It is also important to be able to adjust the light depending on what time of the day it is, especially during the very dark winters or the very bright summers. Dimmers also help you save energy and extend the lives of the bulbs.
4. Interact with materials
The impact on a room when light interacts with different materials, surfaces, finishes, colors and textiles is magical. This is when you can truly create visual communication and add a whole new color and feeling to a room by reflecting the light (natural and artificial). The lights ability to reflect depends on the color, material and finish of a surface. A general rule of thumb is; white/light surfaces reflects light and therefore requires less light. Black/dark surfaces absorb light and requires more light. A dark ceiling creates a lower wall height and requires more lighting fixtures spread out in the room.
5. Study the natural light
Lastly, but most importantly. Always take advantage of the natural light entering a room, this is the true light that makes us humans feel good. Before planning your lighting, study how the daylight moves inside the room. The corners or areas with the most sunshine coming in should be the area where you place your lighting fixtures.
So when it gets darker outside, the same area as during the day will be lit up properly, not creating too much contrast for the eyes, meaning throughout the whole day it is more or less the same light. However, at night you need to complement with more background light to create a smooth transition from day to night.
It may sound like an entrepreneurial cliché, but for us, there is really no better way to tell the story of how we started...
A Filipino landscape architect and a solution seeking / interior design lover Swede were sitting down on one typical gloomy and uneventful day in crowded China chit chatting about life, travels, environment, opportunities and whatnot, and then...TING! After some hours and glasses of wine the proverbial light bulb appeared!
You could say it was almost apparent, with Neus wanting to expand himself into different fields of design, me taking up interior design studies and the fact that both of us are very much into healthy living, going "green" with design products was definitely something we thought we could and should do.
Grey to green
Let me first provide you with some history that might give you a clearer understanding of why we decided to go green. Living and working in China for more than a decade, sharing the daily struggles of a typical “wai guo ren” (Chinese term for foreigner/outsider), and constantly living in a struggling natural environment ("plastic" food, polluted water and high levels of pollutants to cite a few), we witnessed the perils of rapid development up close and personal.
We saw how the world's needs were met through mass production, leaving a massive carbon footprint that gravely damages our environment. And despite the convenience and luxury of modernization, the environment's cry for help could always be heard. So we didn't think twice when we said it's time to do our our part to help the world and "go green"!
At first, what we wanted was to be able give the customers the right to really know the products they are buying. We want to provide honest products that can tell you every bit about itself and how it was made. That for us, and using natural materials, is what green design should really be about. We set our sights to Philippines where the handicraft industry is thriving. We want natural, we want creative, and we want HAND-MADE.
Going handmade means working with artisans in communities which are not to be found in big cites, but in rural provinces. With the world rapidly developing and how quickly the automated world is taking over, these communities are left behind. What's worse is that the mass production industry is killing the handicraft business for more than obvious reasons. This made us reassess our objectives. If we want to help the environment, then we should be concerned with its largest natural resource...man.
Well... One, having a Filipino partner who knows the country and its people well, comes as an advantage. Two, the country, or should I call it the Island(s), is blessed with a tremendous amount of natural materials and natural fibers. And of course, the creativity of the Filipinos when it comes to arts and crafts is truly inspiring.
And hey let’s not forget their love for food. There is no gathering, visiting or meeting without a little fiesta involved. No matter what, you will never leave any place hungry or unhappy!
Setting the right standards
When we traveled around to different provinces and production communities we had a few points in mind we believe should be met before choosing who we should work with:
I think it is safe to say that it has been beyond our expectations so far. The sites we visited and where we are producing some of our designs and products are doing fantastic work. They actually help the whole surrounding provinces to a decent livelihood by outsourcing some of their weave/craft work to families and communities nearby. They have set up volunteer organizations focusing on empowering women, children with disabilities and families living under extremely poor conditions. They are taking on a huge responsibility in consistently working for a better life of their fellow countrymen and the future of their country. All this while running production and creating beautiful designs from nature. What more could we possibly ask for…
To be continued...Stay tuned!
If you’ve been to our website, www.glcgreen.net or one of many that purchased our charming lampshades in the Shade Bar, then for sure you’ve encountered the name, Abaca. It is, as mentioned in our Materials brief, the strongest natural fiber known to man and is indigenous to the beautiful islands of the Philippines.
As a testament to its strength, it was originally used as materials to make rope for ship anchors! Well, if it can hold 20,000 tons of metal by sheer tensile strength, then it’s probably really, really strong.
However, don’t let its strength fool you. Abaca, like in our lampshades, is commonly used for home décor and furniture. It possesses a soft texture that makes it ideal for rugs and even clothes. Although its natural color ranges from brown to blonde, it can easily be dyed with almost any color.
So here are some other cool facts about this fiber that you might want to know:
1. IT GOES BY ANOTHER NAME
Abaca, scientific name Musa textilis, is also commonly known as Manila Hemp. Yes, Manila, as in the capital city of the Philippines. This however, was not a conceited effort for bragging rights to this fiber, if that was even a concern during the 19th century. It was actually because of one US Navy Lieutenant who brought the sample back to the States in 1820.
Soon after, an export shipment of abaca was made to Salem, Massachusetts under the product name of simply "Manila", since the Philippines was then commonly known by the name of its capital city, Manila. And since it was the Navy who “discovered” its properties, the fiber was then used as rope for naval activities.
2. Abaca is filipino...99% of the time
Philippines produces 89% of the world’s supply of Abaca. It was first discovered and controlled in the Philippines but during the 16th century, seeds of it were scattered in many parts of the world for propagation but mostly failed. So if you are to test the DNA of Abaca grown in another country, most likely it will trace back to the Philippines.
10% is from Ecuador, thanks to some Japanese dude named Furukawa who successfully cultivated it there after the 2nd World War. The remaining 1% is shared by other countries like Indonesia, Burma, China, and some other tropical countries.
3. IT'S NOT A BANANA PLANT!
Yes, it looks sooo much like the banana plant. It would be hard for an untrained eye to identify which is which. But there are some key characteristics that you can look for without the help of your friendly neighbor Abaca farmer.
Generally, abaca is smaller than the banana. Its leaves are narrower with pointed ends and noticeably darker compared to the banana leaves which are broader and somewhat lighter in color. But the most obvious characteristics is probably the fruits, as the banana has bigger while the abaca has smaller and not palatable. I guess, it will still take some getting used to, to be really able to differentiate them but at least you know the basics.
4. NOPE, YOU CAN'T SMOKE THIS ONE.
Since it’s called Manila Hemp, one might wonder if it is in any way related to the more famous Hemp, Marijuana. Well, sorry to those of you who wants to go for a natural high, it is not.
Here’s a brief explanation from the Abaca handbook:
The name "hemp" is from the old English word "hanf" which came into use in the Middle English bt 1000 AD and belongs to the plant cannabis sativa . However, the abaca is not the common hemp plant from cannabis sativa. "Hemp" has come to be used as a generic term for all long fibers. The word "hemp" is generic for plants that contain a fiber called "bast". The abaca is a hard fiber (referring to its stiffness) and is entirely different from the true hemp which is a soft fiber and is the product of Cannabis sativa.
5. IT'S EVERYWHERE
Open your wallet, assuming you have cash, then yes you have Abaca in your person. Paper used for most currency notes are partly abaca, obviously because of its tensile strength. Same for teabags, coffee filters, maps and even napkins and tissue papers. The cables and computer chips essential in your electronic gadgets have insulation materials made from this fiber as well. Because of the sheer tenacity of this material, it is integrated in many products for strengthening. We’ve come a long way indeed from using them on anchor ropes and footwear.