It sounds like a bad joke, I know.  But at least choosing the light (or any product) is sometimes a longer process than you might think.  As designers we care about everything that will go into a space, from interior finish colors, to carpet patterns, to the caulk around the windows, and yes even the light bulbs.

Does this match?? Choosing products to match existing conditions can be a challenge, especially when you can’t get close enough to the product to see the comparison. Photos by self and Janelle Horst.

There are so many products in the world today, produced by a multitude of manufacturing companies.  And despite yearly design trends permeating every manufacturer, each version of a product is distinctly unique.  Two carpet tiles may both be 24” square, with grey tones, in linear striations, but because they are from two different manufacturers they are going to be different.  (As the various postal carriers who deliver to our office can attest, we get a lot of samples for this very reason.)  And these similar differences can make it difficult to choose between “Buffstone” and “Charlotte Tan” which is when we get multiple people involved.

Choices, choices everywhere, but which one is right? Often, we have to choose between four different shades of red as in the first photo, seven shades of beige as in the second photo, or 50 Shades of White. But sometimes we have so many choices we have to spread out to see the whole picture. Photos by self.

Sometimes it can take up to six designers, plus the owners, contractors, and Scott’s fish (though they’re not much help) to figure out which color, carpet, or fixture looks and feels correct.

Lighting is always fun to see samples of because laying on the floor (and trusting no one to drop it) is really the only way to get a good feel for the product as in the photos on the left. In the photos on the right we’re trying to decide if an 8’-0” hanging height for a linear lighting fixture would feel awkward in a lobby space, Kim even got involved in that decision. Photos by self and Janelle Horst.


And in case you were wondering, according to Jody Brown of “Coffee with an Architect,” the answer is 21.

One to sketch out the concept.

One to model it in Revit.

One to question the concept… “Does it have to turn?”

One to write an addendum informing the contractors of the change.

One to find the spec section and ASTM Standards for turning light bulbs.

One to fill out the LEED paperwork.

One to suggest a “stainless steel” light bulb.

One to suggest a skylight instead of the light bulb.

One to research alternate methods of changing light bulbs.

One to suggest having a charette to brainstorm ideas about installing light bulbs.

One (intern) to build a chipboard model of the light bulb.

One to suggest recessing the light bulb.

One to issue addendum # 35 to have the contractor reverse the door swing into the room so that the light switch and be relocated on the adjacent wall.

One to ask the design principal in charge to call the client to let them know.

One to call the structural engineer to see if the beam running through the light bulb can be moved.

One to render the space showing a Louis Poulsen “artichoke” lamp instead of the light bulb.

One to ask: “What does the light bulb want to be?”

One to discuss Le Corbusier’s use of light bulbs throughout Villa Savoye.

One to google “Snohetta / Light bulbs.”

One to remove the boundary between the interior and the exterior of the light bulb.

And finally, one to turn off the light while muttering “Less is more”.