The lighter side of design in the hospitality sector

The lighter side of design in the hospitality sector

Sara Khairallah, founder and principal interior architect at SK Touch, shines a bright light on the trends and practices that are shaping the industry.

The hospitality sector has always been a leader in design innovation, consistently evolving to meet guest needs. Furthermore, lighting plays a critical role in shaping the ambiance and experience of a space. From luxurious hotels to cozy cafes, the way we illuminate spaces reflects artistic creativity and technological advancements.

Lighting trends

One of the most notable trends in hospitality lighting is the move toward creating immersive environments. Gone are the days of harsh, uniform lighting. Today’s designs favor a mix of soft, layered lighting that can transform a space and influence mood. Furthermore, warm, dimmable LEDs are now fundamental, offering flexibility and control to create the perfect ambiance for different times of the day and setups. Another trend is the use of statement lighting fixtures. Moreover, chandeliers, bespoke pendant lights and artistic fittings serve not only as sources of light but also as focal points that add character and charm to the space. These fixtures often use materials like wood and stone, reflecting a trend toward biophilic design, bringing outdoors indoors. Sustainability also continues to drive innovation in lighting design.

LED technology and smart lighting systems

The hospitality industry is increasingly adopting energy-efficient solutions, such as LED technology and smart lighting systems. These systems allow for automated control based on occupancy and natural light levels, significantly reducing energy consumption and environmental impact.

Modern technology is completely changing the way we think about lighting in hospitality settings. Furthermore, the integration of smart lighting systems is one of the most fascinating advances. Consequently, these technologies enable customized lighting experiences through voice commands or smartphone apps, allowing for personalized lighting experiences. For example, guests can adjust the lighting in their hotel rooms to suit their preferences, creating a more comfortable and tailored environment.

Circadian lighting

Furthermore, circadian lighting is becoming more and more popular. This technology mimics the natural progression of daylight, helping to regulate the body’s internal clock. By adjusting the color temperature and intensity of light throughout the day, circadian lighting can enhance guests’ well-being, improve sleep quality, and reduce the effects of jet lag, which is particularly beneficial for international travelers. It is our responsibility as designers to create spaces that are comfortable, interesting, and sensitive to the requirements of their users.


Putting human-centric thinking and approaches at the heart of design should become a key first principle for us as designers. The human-centric lighting (HCL) also highlights the focus on health and wellness in hospitality design. HCL systems adjust lighting to support human biological rhythms, enhance mood and improve cognitive function. These systems are especially valuable in spaces like spas, gyms, and wellness centers within hospitality establishments, where creating a soothing and rejuvenating environment is vital.

Achieving the perfect light

Despite the exciting trends and innovations, designers in the hospitality sector face several challenges. One significant pain point is balancing aesthetics with functionality. Although decorative fixtures enhance space, they must also provide adequate lighting.

Furthermore, we often struggle to find fixtures meeting both criteria without compromising on either. Another challenge is integrating new technologies into existing infrastructures. Older buildings may not handle modern lighting systems, needing significant renovations and investments.

Moreover, the rapid pace of technological advancement means that today’s cutting-edge solutions can quickly become outdated, requiring continuous updates and upgrades. Cost is also a major consideration. While energy-efficient and smart lighting systems offer long-term savings, the initial investment can be high.

Also, convincing stakeholders to invest in these technologies can be difficult, especially in a sector where budget constraints are a common issue.

Undoubtedly, the future of hospitality lighting appears promising, with new developments and trends enhancing functionality and aesthetics. The hospitality industry can create visually appealing and guest-friendly spaces by embracing innovative technologies and sustainable practices. Nevertheless, overcoming these challenges requires a strategic approach that balances creativity and practicality to achieve optimal lighting solutions. Lighting will remain a focal point in design as the industry evolves.

Sara Khairallah,
founder and principal interior architect
SK Touch

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