The lighting used in a home office may be significantly different from that used in – for example – the lounge. This is because the purpose of the two rooms are wholly at odds with each other.
An office is not supposed to be a relaxing environment, even when it is ant home. Indeed, there is a school of design thought that says specifically that the office at home should be even less relaxing than the office in the corporate installation: because the rest of the house is so close, any excuse for adding a little relaxation in the work room can tip the scales and cause the room’s user not to do any work at all.
That said, of course, the home office should be filled with things the worker likes – things he or she finds inspirational, and things that he or she finds help him or her to work. So the real design truth is probably something of a happy medium. The home office should have the air of a place where work is done – but it should be comfortable and pleasing too.
Vision is a big problem in any office environment. We spend a lot of time looking at illuminated screens, which is very bad for the eyes – particularly if the screen’s illumination is significantly different in colour and intensity from the light in the rest of the rom. It is bad, for instance, to work at a screen in an unlit room, where the screen itself is bright. It is also bad to work in a very brightly lit room where the screen is dark – in this case, the reflection of the lights on the screen becomes distracting and the worker’s eyes keep flicking between text and image and the inverted version of the office as seen in the glass or screen covering.
The office lighting used in the home office must therefore promote an equilibrium of vision between the eye and the screen. Yet it must also have the capacity for giving that eye a rest from the screen’s illumination. Without this vital ability, the worker’s eyes tire very quickly and his or her concentration may be severely impaired. Long term, such working conditions can also cause noticeable health defects, for example a loss of vision.
The design of the rest of the office may be used to create an environment in which the eye has plenty of other things to rest on. This is very important where a person uses a screen for large portions of time. Knick knacks, pictures and other desk impedimenta serve more of a function in the office than a person may initiallybelieve – they are there as visual circuit breakers, allowing the eye to wander naturally and regain some of its proper focus.
The office should be a place, then, where a combination of comfort and concentration, of nature and hard work, combine perfectly. This is something that is a lot harder to do than it sounds. The office designer must take into account the reasons for working at home – i.e. so you can get out of that horribly unhealthy office life – without forgetting the things we need to encourage us to work in the first place.
Every home is different of course. But there are some rules that should be followed no matter what.
Bryony Burton is an interior designer. Click on http://www.nationallighting.co.uk for more information.