Expert Advice

Let There Be Light

Today we’re back in ‘Expert Advice’ territory, tackling an often overlooked area of interior design – lighting. On this subject, we’re lucky to pick the brains of Adriana Hanna, who works at one of our favourite local architectural practices, Kennedy Nolan.

Adriana’s design sensibilities extend to a keen interest and resounding knowledge of lighting. From aesthetics to ambience, materiality, positioning and installation, Adriana shares with us a few of her insights.

Adriana Hanna

Adriana Hanna’s top picks in lighting. From left to right: Eden Fool Moon light from Kezu ($3,654.00), Mayu Floor by Coco Flip ($1,650.00), Lord Sconce by Dowel Jones ($200.00), Apparatus Trapeze 2 from Criteria Collection ($2750.00), Taccia Table lamp by Pierre and Achille Castiglioni from Euroluce ($4,775.00), Noguchi Akari Light Sculpture Floor Lamp Model UF3-Q (various Noguchi light sculptures available from Made In Japan and Mr Kitly).

Adriana Hanna’s top picks in lighting. From left to right: Polar by Ross Gardam (product due to be released soon), Double Cup Wall light by Anna Charlesworth ($530.00), Gubi Semi Pendant from CULT (starting from $390.00).

Adriana Hanna
6th of May 2016

I’m Adriana and I work as an architect at Kennedy Nolan. I often get the pleasure in my work to translate an overall architectural design spatially and aesthetically to create a lighting plan. Electrical lighting is not only completely functional and necessary, but it can significantly enhance a space aesthetically.

Lighting is often overlooked in domestic applications, and there are often missed opportunities, for instance the downlight is usually the only light source through an entire house. And most disappointing when installed in a systematic grid over a ceiling with no consideration of the spaces’ function or user!

Here’s some of what I have learnt about lighting along the way.


Downlights are really for task lighting, there is no use for them in a living room or bedroom where ambience is key. Ambient lighting is best achieved using lamps or pendants, and is where the real fun begins.

Selecting lamps and freestanding lights gives you the chance to select something sculptural yet functional, which ties in with the aesthetic of your personal space. Lamps can be incredibly personal pieces that give you daily gratification.

selecting lamps

When selecting lamps I often search for something that is uniquely tactile, and is either handmade or created using an interesting fabrication method. Something that isn’t easily replicated and celebrates craftsmanship.

Then, on the other hand, I always consider a lamp’s function and what space it will be lighting. For instance, a living room ideally needs to be lit evenly, so something that emits light at 360 degrees and can reflect light off a ceiling or a wall is suitable, whereas in a dining room, you only need to light a table, so a 180 degree beam spread is sufficient.

To Dim or Not to Dim?

Always dim! When it comes to non-task related areas such as living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms and hallways I would always dim. In these spaces lighting has a dual role, it needs to act as both general background lighting and ambient lighting. The most sustainable way to achieve this is by minimising the amount of lights, and adding a dimmer for flexibility.

Adriana’s own home in Preston, featuring vintage Anvia wall lights in the master bedroom.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Adriana Hanna
6th of May 2016


I personally tend to lean towards paper and fabric lamps in my own personal spaces, this because I enjoy the tactility of these materials. They also diffuse light very softly, and are much warmer than an exposed light source.

Lighting preferences can be very subjective, but my preference is to have illumination that is soft and warm, and emphasises the fact that it is evening, rather than trying to replicate natural daylight.

positioning and installing fixed lighting

There is never one way to position a fitting! A pendant shouldn’t always be hung in the centre of the room, it should always be a considered and measured approach. I personally ask myself these questions:

1. What is the furniture layout in the room and which zones need the most light?
2. What are the features of the room what do you want to draw attention to?

From there I then measure out the size of the light and mark it out on a wall or measure its height in a space. Understanding the placement spatially is key; you want to ensure that the light you choose is present in the space. There is no point hanging a pendant so close to the ceiling that you don’t get to appreciate it, in my opinion the lower the better.

Adriana’s Favourite Lighting Resources

Artemide, Euroluce and Hub Furniture are often the top three in my list. They carry some of the most respected design classics and contemporary lighting with quite a sophisticated range of products that are manufactured to the highest quality.

Final thoughts

It’s quite easy to get overwhelmed with the different types of light source choices, wattages, lamp colour range and efficiency. This really is the tip of the iceberg for lighting; for the technically minded individual I would recommend heading over to this this website or simply talking to a light supplier. There’s more than meets the eye, and good suppliers are certainly more than sales people, they have technical knowledge well worth tapping into.

Gubi Semi Pendant from CULT (starting from $390.00). Photo of Kennedy Nolan’s Westgarth House project.  Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

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