One of the most exciting areas of commercial lighting is the development of lighting systems for nightclubs. Whilst many associate nightclubs with dark, empty spaces and a central light setup, there is actually a multitude of considerations that go into night club lighting, many of which happen at the architectural level.
Unlike office lighting, which is designed to be bright, clean and have a certain level of consistency, when looking at commercial lighting in nightclubs, it’s little wonder why lighting budgets can be in excess of £500,000. Lighting and furniture are the two most important design elements in the finished appearance of any nightclub, but it’s the accent lighting accompanying the standard theatrical lighting that nightclubs are famous for.
Types of Commercial Lighting Used in Nightclub Design
Many nightclubs are designed to have small communal and private areas for guests to escape the crowds for a moment of refuge that doesn’t involve their feet becoming stuck to the dance floor. These sub-rooms or recesses include functional coloured light that allows for greater visibility without breaking the overall atmosphere of the club.
Indirect lighting tends to be used for backlit signage as well as lightboxes for posters and images. However, many architects and lighting designers use this type of lighting to exercise their design flair. On the ‘wall of senses’ used in a club in Las Vegas, there are various shapes cut out, with indented lighting within those shapes. It’s lighting inception at its best. Hydraulics make the cut-out shape pulse and as the light changes colour, the effect is constantly changing to ensure the guest never experiences the same feeling twice. The beating wall tries to simulate a heartbeat and of course, comes alive when accompanied by the thumping sounds of music.
As the name suggests, surface-mounted lighting refers to fixed placed lighting that includes the likes of fake table lamps, wall sconces or pendant lighting that drops from the ceiling. Many nightclubs use pendant lamps suspended from the ceiling to create a grid effect which defines the dance floor and creates distinct areas. Surface-mounted lighting is not to be confused with rig-mounted lighting, as this refers to the moveable lighting that’s controlled and changed by the DJ during their performance.
Accent lighting is hugely important, as it refers to step lighting, under bar lighting and strip lighting. Many club and bar owners will agree, they are the commonly sued for ‘slip-and-fall’ accidents (among other things) in relation to stairs. As such, it is vital to use the right lighting system to demonstrate that safety is paramount. This is similar to strip lighting as clear paths to fire exits need to be in place should the worst happen. Whilst under bar lighting is not as vital, it certainly looks very appealing and serves to highlight the bar – a key function within a nightclub.
Flat Light Technology
Flat light technology comes in various shapes and sizes, however, the most common forms are panels and light tape. The former allows lighting designers to create panels that do not heat up and use very little energy. These panels can be used to highlight the front of a bar or create a colour changing dance, whereas the latter can be used to highlight balustrades, mark out an outside space or simply highlight a zig-zag line pattern on a wall. Flat light technology is useful for lighting places that guests might be able to touch.
Commercial lighting designers will jump at the chance to create the lighting for a night club, as it entails so many lighting elements all in one space. The more creative they can be, the better the final effect, so next time you hit the clubs, take a moment to appreciate all the subtle choices in the lighting that surrounds you, as each bulb has been considered and placed for your safety and enjoyment.