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Apr 09 2018

How retailers and contract furnishers can apply circadian lighting

A relaxing evening in front of the TV calls for very different living room lighting to that required for concentrated work. Similarly, the light needed to prepare a meal properly in the kitchen will very definitely not work for the intimate dinner that follows. And in the bathroom, too, there are many different lighting needs at different times of the day. New technologies and the products developed with them can imitate the circadian rhythm of daylight and support people in their home lives – this is a growth market.

The trending topic: circadian lighting

Customers don’t buy sofas anymore; they buy relaxation. They don’t buy kitchens; they buy the pleasures of good food and good company. This calls for the right lighting to bring a sense of well-being into the home. Or to show the sofa, colours, fabrics and artistic arrangements in their best light, ideally with lighting that is as natural as possible and gives people a sense of inner comfort – following what is known as the "internal clock".

Growing numbers of people are thinking about their internal clocks, and not just because of the debate about the clocks going forward in Europe for the summer. The term "circadian" comes from Latin and means "roughly" (circa) and "day" (dies). The circadian rhythm in human beings, the body’s internal clock, controls the hormonal balance. The right light gets us going in the morning and triggers the release of melatonin in the evening to wind down the body and mind. Light has a stimulating effect via the centres in our brain activated by the retina and drives our internal clock. This biological rhythm emerged over the course of evolution as an adaptation to regular environmental changes, and it has been demonstrated right down to the cellular level.

So you can say that the circadian rhythm is in our DNA and our blood. It regulates our sleep-wake rhythm and is crucial for our sense of well-being. Artificial lighting can help to promote a sense of well-being and make us feel ready to tackle a task, but it can also relax us, especially if our habits go against our internal clock from time to time. Circadian lighting mimics the natural changes in light over the course of a day by reproducing its colour and intensity with different wavelengths. It aims to recreate the interaction between natural light and its biological effects in interior spaces.

Diverse applications for circadian lighting

In the workplace, blue-rich light can prevent drowsiness during the day and simultaneously promote more restorative night-time sleep if there is a lead into this with relaxing, muted light and darkness in the evening. Avoiding televisions, smartphones and other screen devices before going to bed is also said to improve the quality of sleep. Using different lighting scenarios in the home can enhance the positive effect of circadian lighting. Philips Lighting has been researching light for many years and studying the effect of light on people. Philips Hue, available on the market for more than five years, is a system that enables private households to easily select different lighting scenarios and control them automatically. The cutting-edge LED lamps in the Philips SceneSwitch series are a very simple way for users to choose a lighting mood to suit the particular occasion – without dimmers, accessories or any installation work and equipped with standard household E27 bases.

Each room has special requirements: the bathroom as a case in point

The bathroom is used for very different purposes during the course of a day. Users’ needs range from functional light in the morning for shaving and putting on make-up to a soothing ambiance for evening pampering. This is why using circadian lighting in the bathroom promises especially large dividends. The specialist in bathroom furniture and furnishing concepts burgbad has developed an innovative lighting concept called RL40 Room Light. It combines the biological effect of light with ergonomic controls in a single product, and is designed to cover all lighting needs in the bathroom. What’s different about the concept is that it sees the mirror cabinet not just as an element of bathroom furniture, but rather as a means to enhance the room’s architecture. Developed in collaboration with the Bartenbach Lighting Academy, the lighting concept offers a range of options, including especially well-balanced, indirect LED ceiling lighting that, together with two glare-free LED light sources integrated on the sides, can completely illuminate the bathroom. In addition to configurable light colour and intensity, the mirror cabinet has four preprogrammed lighting moods: activation, relaxation, basic and care. The innovative control elements – touch-free gesture control and a small cube that acts as a wireless remote control – make the unit extremely easy to operate.

A growth market: covering new areas of use with circadian lighting

It goes without saying that circadian lighting is set to be a major sales driver in the smart home, too. Lighting moods can be easily changed when combined with an innovative voice control or an app. But circadian lighting also promises benefits beyond the private and commercial spheres. The first installations of this technology in hospitals or care homes for the elderly provide light stimulation in the morning, thereby enhancing the well-being of patients or residents, who are unable to venture outside for long periods. Some initial successes have already been achieved in the care of dementia patients in hospitals and senior care homes.

This demonstrates the beneficial effect of circadian lighting on body and soul. But the concept of circadian lighting offers added value for customers and not just when providing in-depth advice on holistic interior design. It can also be helpful when presenting different product areas, such as the kitchen or bedroom, and when showcasing colours, fabrics and other materials whose characteristics are perceived differently depending on natural light conditions. Circadian lighting has a wide range of applications for the retail trade and contract furnishing.

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