Lighting social spaces in the post-Covid world

4 years ago Posted by: skinflint Lighting advice

Above: Our retro Czechoslovakian pendants illuminating an intimate booth at the Tre Ciccio restaurant in Altrincham.

Due to the global pandemic, as a society we have entered a new era of living and socialising. But although we have been physically pushed apart, we have in many respects become closer than ever. Now, with many restaurants, bars, offices and event spaces slowly re-opening, designers are thinking outside the box in their approach to nurturing important personal connections, and creating intimate but safe social spaces with the help of clever spatial design and lighting. Talking to our own clients and keeping track of what’s going on in the design world, our lighting experts explore things further.

Above: A row of our antique GECoRay wall lights in Tortue Hotel's boutique restaurant.

Creating intimate zones
Whether in a restaurant or co-working space, lighting is a perfect tool for segmenting large areas and creating different zones with different purposes. Furthermore, by illuminating some areas and darkening others, it can be used as a helpful visual aid to represent social distancing rules. By using a row of isolated and open bottomed pendants, such as enamel shades, at a bar or a long table, it’s simple to encourage a comfortable and welcoming space whilst keeping users a safe two-metres apart. Lighting can also be used to delineate specific areas; using soft and diffused lighting for recreational zones, and bright and ample lighting in working areas. This helps guests navigate easily and safely through a space. As lighting affects our behaviour and mood on a subconscious level, it provides a stress-free and natural way to encourage people to distance from each other, both comfortably and effectively.

The workspaces of the future
"Everyone is talking about how to make the post-Covid office safe, but no-one is talking about how to strengthen culture and performance,” says architectural firm Woods Bagot. In response it is predicting new workspace configurations. Think small groupings of sofas, coffee tables and tables that promote informal and creative collaboration; and desks and private tables with moveable barriers that all can be altered according to the needs of visiting satellite employees and teams. Again, the use of lighting to create intimate schemes and zones will be key. As will use of effective illumination, task lighting and lighting that is easy to move, plug-in-and-go, such as desk and floor lights.

Above: Our industrial lighting by Heyes in the Cotton Factory's cosy seating area.

Promoting engagement and co-working
Lighting can also be used to help improve engagement and comfort in a space. Over the last months, we have seen many eateries moving towards using booths as a simple and effective way to promote natural physical distancing. Using lighting in these spaces lends an intimacy that customers may feel is lacking in a socially distanced world. Lights that offer a soft glow, such as opaline and decorative glass lights, create a cozy area that is safe to enjoy. We’ve also noticed designers using a sense of playfulness in their designs; treating each individual booth, area and nook as its own entity and giving each one its own unique style and feature piece. We’ve seen contrasting ideas such as oversized statement lights, bohemian glass chandeliers and industrial fluorescent lights sitting right next to each other - and we’re looking forward to seeing these projects in their finished states over the coming weeks.

What does the future look like?
According to a trends report by Dubai-based interior design studio Roar, while physical menus, cash payments and buffets in restaurants might be a thing of the past (for now at least), panelists and a focus group of experts believe Coronavirus will lead to a rise in escapist interiors. With fewer diners eating out, restaurateurs are asking for more originality, wanting to create “slightly surreal” spaces and experiences when eating out. We’re intrigued to see what the future holds.

Need further advice and help on how to light social spaces post-Covid? Get in touch with our lighting experts.