Using Light Boxes to Demonstrate Lighting Effects
Ending months of anticipation, lighting guru Randall Whitehead explains how to make that light box he recommended in January's column.
 
These sconces, fitted with 2,700 degree Kelvin CFLs, produces a warm color of light that most people assume is incandescent. Educating the public on color temperature furthers its acceptance of alternative light sources.
Randall, in your January 2006 column, you mention that most lighting showrooms don't have isolated displays to demonstrate color. With the onset of California's Title 24 and the national push towards energy efficiency, I think it will be increasingly important to demonstrate lighting effects to consumers. Where do I begin?
Don't you hate it when someone tells you that you need to do something, then doesn't tell you how to do it? You should start with a "light box" that shows a side-by-side comparison of the different color temperatures available. Most customers don't understand the concept, especially since it is the opposite of how folks gauge heat temperature. For example, 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit means high noon in hell. In terms of the color of light, 5,000 degrees Kelvin is freezing. Daylight is 5,000 degrees Kelvin. It is not the color of the sun, but more the color of the sky. Bottom line: A high number is cooler in terms of color temperature, and a low number is warmer. When constructing a light box, create a series of niches: 18- by 18- by 12-inch square wooden boxes stacked on top of each other in rows of three (both horizontally and vertically). Remember the tic-tac-toe board for "Hollywood Squares"? Each of these squares features a different color light source: standard incandescent 2,700K, halogen 3,000K, CFL 2,700K, CFL 3,000K, CFL 3,500K, CFL 4,000K, CFL 5,000K, LED 2,700K and LED 3,500K. The light source should be hidden behind a fascia board, so that the customers cannot see it. All you want them to see is the color of the light and how it affects the color of the objects in the niches. These sconces, fitted with 2,700 degree Kelvin CFLs, produces a warm color of light that most people assume is incandescent. Educating the public on color temperature furthers its acceptance of alternative light sources. In each of these squares, you would have the same items: a photo of a person, a silk plant, a piece of red fabric, a piece of navy blue fabric and a piece of white fabric. Customers can then see the effect of the various color temperatures. You can even have them stick in their hand to see how their skin tone is affected by the different light sources and the amount of actual heat that is generated. This light box could be mounted on or recessed into a wall or placed on a counter. It's best to have the center row of the display at eye level. Don't set it on the floor and make your customers get down on their hands and knees. After the first few times, it's just not that funny anymore.
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website www.randallwhitehead.com for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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