An Interview with Interior Designer, Brendan Schnetler

The Role of Lighting in Retail Design

With more than seven years' experience in the Residential & Corporate Interior Design industry, Brendan Schnetler strives to design unique interiors which are aesthetically functional and timeless. Schnetler is the founder and creative director of interior design firm, B3 Concept Design and Interiors, based predominantly in Cape Town. We chatted to Brendan to get his insights on how lighting plays a role in designing retail spaces.

When designing a retail space, what are some of the aspects you consider?

Look and feel is everything in retail, so when it comes to designing a retail space, one of the first things I consider is how customers will react to and within their surroundings. Other key aspects I consider are: What is public space and what is retail (display) space? Making this distinction will determine how people move around in the space. What is the concept? This determines the overall theme of the space – whether it’s dark or light and how it needs to reflect the branding of the company and its target market. Finally I ask how far the client is willing to go to stand out from the rest. This informs me of the scope that I need to establish to create a successful design.

When choosing how to light a space, where do you start? Colour, size, shape, manufacturer?

In general there is a regulation regarding the required amount of lumens (light) and kelvin (temperature/colour) for specific functions. For example, where food is displayed in a supermarket for example, it requires a more natural light to give off a fresh appearance. On the other hand, a coffee shop requires a warmer light to create the feeling of cosiness. These kinds of specs would be the base starting point and the rest will conform to the client’s brief.

What are some of the latest trends in the interior lighting arena?

Light automation through AI (Artificial Intelligence) has become a massive trend worldwide. With these kinds of technological advancements, we are now able to control our lighting remotely from our cell phones. Sleek, modern, geometric shapes are forming the base trends for many light fittings, pared with the use of raw metals.

Chanel store Tokyo Japan
Does the environmental sustainability factor influence your decisions about lighting?

Absolutely. One key aspect of designing any space is its Green Star rating. It is our responsibility as interior designers to be aware of our choices to ultimately reduce the use of unnecessarily power hungry bulbs. The decisions we make can contribute to creating an eco-friendly environment that reduces power consumption and unnecessary heat loads.

Does lighting play a role in retail psychology?

Yes it does. Our emotional state is driven by how we experience light. Theatres, movie sets and stadiums are all major functional spaces, however each one requires a different light format to change the way people feel in it. Mood lighting encourages the onset of certain emotions, bright light generates energy. The same applies to retail spaces.

If you could give new store owners 3 tips on how to choose lighting for their store, what would those tips be?

* Establish what type of emotion you want your clients to feel when entering the space, and plan your lighting around that.

* Choose fittings that are current, won’t date easily and that can generate conversation.

* Consult a lighting specialist to assist with placement of the fittings to highlight hot spots and key areas that you want people to be drawn to.

Tell us about one of your recent projects and why you chose the lighting that you did for that particular space.

I recently completed a well-known celebrity’s apartment in Sea Point, Cape Town and decided to replace the key lighting in the space to create a balance of functional and mood lighting. I used a combination of matte black track systems to create a gallery feel with medium to high floor-standing lamps to create spaces for reading and relaxation. The theme of the space was “masculine tranquility” which led to a mixture of sleek metal and natural fibres as the fittings selection.

Mannequins in a men's clothing store

What is the biggest design challenge you face on design projects?

The biggest design challenge I face comes down to budget. As a designer I get to design amazing spaces with great lighting but without a large budget, it becomes very limited and the design is compromised. With this said, it allows for opportunity to push the boundaries in terms of what can be done with a few rands.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

The most rewarding aspect about my job is seeing my clients’ amazed reaction when they enter the space for the first time. This always reassures me that I’m living my dream and passion as a Professional Interior Designer.

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