Change Your Lighting, Change Your Mood

Ruminating on light design for events and office

This post is part of a series about working in Internal Operations with a focus on events, bonding, culture and everything in between!

Anyone else have travel epiphanies? Plane epiphanies? That is one of the things I miss about travel in the before times. How the smallest deviation from your day to day, can spark a connection disparate from your usual mental plot points.

I was lucky enough to be traveling last week when one of those clarifying moments occurred for me. It was the concept of lighting and mood — out of all things! Not just “mood lighting” but light design for all moods and needs. When life was in physical form and I was hosting events and managing an office, I thought about lighting A LOT. Like more than you would think for those responsibilities (we will get to that).

The epiphany came at the most unlikely of times, a time when I was trying to find a restaurant for my last night on vacation. I was having trouble Googling things based on food, vibe, cocktail and also aesthetic as a holistic concept. So I left the search up to chance and decided to walk around and hoped to stumble upon something.

Peering into restaurants I would think: that looks run down, or that looks too bright and sterile… oh this one I will for sure get food poisoning. Needless to say, I was not looking up menus at this stage. I was at the: what is the vibe and will I have a view of the sunset when I sit down. Just choose a place! I mean, there are 100s of restaurants on this boardwalk… stomach grumbles..

But then, like an angel dropped down from heaven, I found the perfect restaurant. A sprawling layout of tables, some inside, some outside like a continuous flow from establishment to nature, lined with tiki torches, lanterns and an acoustic guitarist singing every tear worthy 80s love ballad. Was this a dream? This was THE place I would be getting dinner!

I sat there giddy, thinking how I might replicate this for a future in person event, yes, lovely, just lovely! But the lighting, the lighting was the finishing touch of the whole “vibe.” The experience wrapped me in a memory montage of all the lighting scenarios I had had to solve over the years as an office and events manager…

Like the first startup that I worked at that had dim lighting in one section of the office and the team that was forced to sit there miserably while the happiest team sat by the windows. We would have to switch out teams and move desk pods just because we couldn’t afford to get better lighting installations.

Or the people at another company that sat by the window with the shades closed because the natural light was too blinding.

Then the company I worked at that didn’t have a dim lighting feature and I had to have bulbs removed for a night time party. Because we couldn’t have oppressive top down lighting for a black tie event…

And all the times in between in which I had to manipulate lighting design to fit the need. Brighter lights in places of the offices in which the natural light didn’t flow through… and other times when I had to get screen protectors so that sun light wouldn’t reflect off of a monitor.

I continued these ruminations as I took a seat on the plane to head back home. Looking up at the age enhancing plane lighting (don’t even try to take a selfie) And remembering the time I took Virgin Airlines and how lovely their purple track lighting was. Soft and welcoming; exotic for air travel.

I think back to school lunches in overly lit, large and sterile track seating and think… I don’t yearn for that feeling again (outside of the awkward: where do I sit woes).

Or when I was in college and the night club would turn the lights on super bright at closing time to ensure people left. Yes, the party is over and there is no more strobe for your dance moves! We get it, the fun is over!

And those beautiful magical moments in perfectly set lit restaurants, house parties, concerts, dance clubs and again in office space design. When it feels right, you don’t always notice. But when lighting feels wrong, you can sense something is off in your bones.

I come back to myself, deep in thought and think… lighting is everything. I truly believe that a good or bad time is dependent on the lighting of the space. Whether it is your home or the places you frequent. When the lighting matches the need and desire, your body can fall into harmony.

Is there no wonder that people admire the sunrise, the sunset, the stars, gazing into a fire? While these are natural wonders, there are so many ways in which man made light can be manipulated to feed your soul. A manipulation in lighting can be felt wholeheartedly if you have ever been to The Venetian in Las Vegas, check it out!

I personally look forward to planning in person events again, when lighting and aesthetic design can transform an experience from average to most memorable! I know we will all be craving that again in our 3D world experiences as we reinvent our own version of the roaring 20s ❤

Look out for an upcoming post on lighting design for events, office and your home in the coming weeks. Please feel free to share any of your favorite memories from inspirational lighting, below!

People Experience Manager at Medium. Currently writing www.meetingswithcake.com. COMING SOON!