skip to main content

Human centric lighting: raising wellbeing through light

in biophilic design

Light is key to human life and it affects wellbeing in several different ways.

The relevance of light on health and its impact on wellbeing are becoming increasingly recognized and embraced in lighting design, opening the way to Human Centric Lighting

the impact of light

Light influences human wellbeing in different ways:

Pendant lamps delivering a soft warm light.
Credit: Graypants

natural vs artificial

The way the human body works is strictly linked to natural light and its variations. In fact, sunlight varies during the day in both intensity and colour: from low and warm at dawn, to bright and cool during the day, to low and warm again in the evening. Exposure to cool light (or blue light) inhibits the production of melatonin (the hormone of sleep) and stimulates the production of cortisol and dopamine (the hormones that make us feel awake). Which is why we naturally feel awake during the day and sleepy at night.

Given the staggering amount of time we spend indoors as a society, the quality of artificial lighting systems becomes particularly important. Yet standard artificial lighting is way too static, often too rich in blue light, and usually not ideal.

By mimicking natural features, Human Centric Lighting reproduces the distinctive features of sunlight, creating a lighting setup that provides optimal eye comfort, follows the human biological cycle and – as whole – makes the environment comfortable and pleasant to live in.

Yellow sunlight filtering through branches.
Credit: Thomas Kinto
Delicate yellow light from a table lamp.
Credit: Audo

human-centric lighting

A Human Centric Lighting approach acts on several aspects of light, adjusting them according to their impact on wellbeing.

Just like sunlight, human-centric artificial lighting changes in intensity throughout the day, varying gradually from brighter to softer. Its colour (or spectrum content) also varies, delivering more blue light in the daytime and getting warmer in the evening. The lighting plan carefully considers where the light comes from (overhead, wall flush, etc.) to make sure the final lighting distribution is comfortable, balanced, and it avoids unwanted extremes such as glare and unplanned dark areas and shadows.
In other words, Human Centric Lighting is

“lighting devoted to enhancing human performance, comfort, health and wellbeing”
Cit. Peter Boyce

Clustered pendant lamps provodong a soft light.
Credit: New Works

Biophilic design resources by anooi:
A Biophilic YearApplying Biophilic DesignVisual Library of Biophilic Design