Do you design in the "dark", or in a bright room

ladylee's picture

Just curious, b/c my work has suddenly decided to turn on every single flouresent light in the building ON, claiming that we have to comply with OSHA standards (which I am finding is un-true)...and claiming that it increases prductivity.....anyhoo, wondering how most of you designers prefer to design....PERSONALLY, I love it w/ no lights on, and maybe a small lamp near me, or the window light only....

What is your preference...?

mara06's picture

Depends on how you feel about

Depends on how you feel about going blind. Working in front of a monitor (or watching TV, for that matter) a dark room is an extremely unhealthy idea.


ChrisD's picture

Me too

We have the lights on at my new job. I prefer dark and worked that way for 10 years before. I have to admit my eyes used to be very strained in the dark in the past. But I did hear somewhere at some point in time (don't take my word for it)that if you look overtop and past your screen and your eyes cannot focus on something in the distance, then it strains your eyes. Hence the lights on. Something like that.

gwells's picture

i'm not sure that's

i'm not sure that's completely true, mara. it may have been moreso in the past when everyone used CRTs. and it may have been partial wives tale, too.

personally i *HATE* fluorescent light. thankfully my company has three settings on the fluorescent lights above me (3 tubes, settings are 1, 2, or 3 tubes on). regardless, i generally climb onto my desk and unscrew either all or all but one tube. glare sucks. i prefer natural light.

ladylee's picture

yeah, when I say "dark" I

yeah, when I say "dark" I more so mean either a room with natural light, or dimmer lighting...the flouresent lights are killing me, I am wearing sunglasses now, and that makes it difficult to see the screen/colors/detail! ahhh!

3dogmama's picture

Cite health reasons.

Imperceptible to the human eye, fluorescent lighting has a flicker. This flicker is a Migraine trigger (I can vouch for that). Do they want healthy, happy employees or not?

"I accept chaos, I'm not sure whether it accepts me."
Bob Dylan

Ivan's picture

fluorescent light is not a good idea

Natural light will surely increase your productivity. Fluorescent light will decrease over time. You will indeed get frustrated because of the flicker. You must use it together with incandescent light. A designer must care for his eye-sight even if it means you have to fight with your superiors for this.

KellyR's picture

I work under fluorescent

I work under fluorescent lighting, but also have a large source of natural light next to me, too... so I get a lot of both.

When I come in in the mornings, though, and I'm one of the first people here, I definitely don't turn on the overhead lights... just open the blinds to the window and work by the natural light until someone else comes in and turns on the overheads.

Really not that big of a deal to me... guess I'm used to it is all. But when given the choice, I prefer to work next to a natural light source with no overhead lighting. I can't have it that way, though, because if the overhead lights were turned off, others in the building not close to the natural source would be straining to see their work (not all of us here work exclusively on a computer which emits its own light - there's a lot of putting pen to paper where sufficient light is needed to see what's being written or sketched, etc.)

JimD's picture

Old wive's tale...

It has been proven over and over by optometrists and other doctors that watching TV/Computer monitors in the dark does absolutely nothing to your eye-site. In reality, working in bright light situations actually hurts because your eyes are forced to focus on more than one thing - which puts more strain on them.

That being said, I don't care for working in total darkness, but I would never work with overhead lights. A nice desk lamp off to the side is much more pleasing to work with if you don't have a window with natural light near by - which has been proven to increase productivity and reduce stress and fatigue.

Technically speaking, it's much better to NOT have fluorescent lights if you're working in a color-critical environment. They give off a light cyan/yellow glow that alters your perception of color. If you're really stubborn, you should not only insist on no overhead lighting, but the walls should be painted a neutral gray color as well - but I've seen only a few places that actually adhere to that.

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Mintsauce's picture

Incandescent Light.

Fluorescent lighting is a bad choice - as is said before it is a migraine trigger, and will cause eyestrain (hence the migraine.) I work with natural light - kept of the monitor, because it will influence your colour perception. (And what's up with all these reflective monitors? pet peeve.) I also have an incandescent desk lamp that shine up on the wall behind my monitor - this has been proven to reduce eye-strain also.

If you're working on a CRT, which many colour picky designers do you'll also have issues with the refresh rate and fluorescent flickering causes even more problems.

You can always get a screen guard or whatever it's called.

If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.

mara06's picture

Well, this is an interesting

Well, this is an interesting and informative thread :-)

When I was in the theatre, I was fascinated by lighting; when not performing, I sometimes designed and ran lights for shows. I like to play with lighting now in my studio and have an interesting mix of sources. I use full spectrum bulbs and tubes wherever possible. They're expensive, but worth it to me. Actually, I don't usually bother to turn on the overhead fluorescents, since I have plenty of other light sources, including windows. I do find, though, that the extra flood of light energizes me when I really need to crank out the work.


accleme's picture

cold and warm

to design in cold is white. to design in warmth is yellow.
black is useless and unhealthy. have a window and some view...
walls should be white so anything can happen on them. but most important... be enjoying. and then... you will find white is warm and warmth is yellow and black is black. and you may not even listen do the birds.

Tice's picture

Dimmed lights

Right now I have a candle and that IKEA paper lamp, setting the light in my room to dimmed, but still bright enough to even read a newspaper. Perfect for me.

Ivan's picture


I think that's ideal.

3dogmama's picture



"I accept chaos, I'm not sure whether it accepts me."
Bob Dylan

Flub-Dub's picture

no fluorescent

i guess my perfect light setup would be "intimate" with several low power sources spread around. i also used to have a red bulb behind my desk that would cast a red glow on the wall behind the computer.

either way, fluorescent light gives me a creepy feeling of hospital and reminds me of a cold, antiseptic corporate environment. warm light has a more evocative feeling to it. natural light is good but id only let it in if the view outside is nice and inspiring rather than a depression made out of concrete.

pitch black with only the monitor on is not unhealthy. i remember reading somewhere that they created this myth in the 60s to sell more lamps.
but when im working in pitch black with only the LCD on i find myself making more typing mistakes, especially with complicated shortcuts. im not staring directly at the keyboard when typing, but i guess peripheral vision helps you establish some reference. and since my whole computer is black, that doesnt help either.

always outnumbered, never outgunned

Flub-Dub's picture

oh, one more thing worth

oh, one more thing worth mentioning.
with age, eye performance deteriorates. even if they dont need glasses, people over 40 y.o. might experience a state of confusion in low-light setups because their eyes are less sensitive to light.

always outnumbered, never outgunned

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