No Need For Windows? Er, Maybe…

tlgNearly every profession has been transformed in some way by technology, and graphic design is no exception. The drafting table has been replaced by the desktop computer, which performs some of the most exacting-and formerly messy–tasks. In addition, where light-filled workspaces used to be considered a necessity, that same light now tends to drown out images displayed on a large-screen monitor–the graphic designer’s most important tool.

That’s what Washington, D.C.-based graphic designer Lloyd Greenberg discovered when he moved his home office from upstairs to downstairs to make room for his new baby. Thanks to some creative lighting design, Greenberg was able to move comfortably from a large room with a nine-foot ceiling and seven-foot windows with southern exposure to a dark unfinished basement with a seven-foot, eight-inch ceiling.

To make the space work, Greenberg had to move the furnace and radiators, take out a column, add a beam, and erect plasterboard walls. But it was the halogen and fluorescent lighting Greenberg installed that made the most difference. Greenberg used long-lasting, low-wattage fluorescent bulbs in 20 standard recessed light cans (fixtures that also can burn incandescent bulbs) throughout the studio and a bank of color-correcting fluorescent lights.

Several high-intensity halogen lights provide task lighting at two workstations. Feeling the need to compensate for his subterranean setting, Greenberg installed 150-watt floods, which warmed up the studio even before the repositioned furnace was vented. But in the end Greenberg discovered that he needed much less, not more, light than he had been used to having in his upstairs studio.

Indeed, the degree of illumination is perhaps the most important change from the studios of five or 10 years ago, when artists craved great expanses of natural sunlight as well as total darkness for photostat-making and other darkroom activities. Now, studio lighting is subdued so as not to interfere with monitor brightness, and darkroom activities are performed with such computer photo applications as Adobe Photoshop.

Only a stray shaft of afternoon daylight now enters Greenberg’s studio through front and rear doors and windows. Ambient lighting in the studio is on dimmer switches, complementing the art- and book-lined walls and the faint strands of classical music Greenberg listens to while he works.

Greenberg, who has been doing all of his work on computers since 1992, says his office now requires not only less light but less space. “When I started as a graphic designer,” Greenberg explains, “we needed space with a lot of light and room to spread out. But since I made the switch to working on computers, I probably use a quarter of the space I did before.”


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