In this post we’re focusing on architectural surface mounted light fittings. That’s quite a mouthful so let’s break it down a bit more. Architectural surface mounted light fittings blur the line between purely decorative fittings like chandeliers and hidden workhorses like the recessed downlight. An architectural fitting is doing something more than being simply decorative. It’s doing a job, maybe lighting a specific area or creating a particular effect. Surface mounted fittings are more visible too so they’ve got to look good while doing it.
Why use surface mounted light fittings
Surface mounted light fittings can help solve problems with fixing points. If you need a flexible spotlight and can’t recess anything into a ceiling or a wall, an adjustable surface mounted spotlight might give you what you need. Having a surface mounted alternative is a great escape route when you’ve got limited ceiling void or no void at all.
Older buildings present their own challenges. They often have the same issue with limited voids and that that can be accompanied by vaulted ceilings.
Surface mounted fittings have the advantage of being able to put light in exactly the right spot. This dining area is a wonderfully, naturally light space in the day.
The fitting here isn’t a traditional “decorative” fitting; it’s an architectural fitting doing a specific job. It’s surface mounted because that was the best way of getting great lighting over the dining table in this particular instance.
Things to watch out for when using surface mounted fittings
So surface mounted light fittings are flexible and are great for lighting problematic areas, but what are the watch outs?
One consideration is cost. Designing with surface mounted fittings is likely to be more expensive than with recessed ones. Comparing like-for-like using LED fittings that share the same light engine show that a surface mounted fitting might be 25-50% more expensive. That’s on a like-for-like basis but things might be more subtle than that. It might be cheaper and better to use a slightly more expensive surface mounted light fitting in the right place than spend money on trying to engineer an appropriate, more recessed solution.
The second consideration is appearance. Surface mounted fittings are simply more visible. Again, there are steps we can take to mitigate that.