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Strategies for Retail Lighting

The approach that I see a lot in retail lighting is to attempt to light everything as brightly as possible.  Doing so, of course, emphasizes nothing.  Here, the apron in front of the showroom is lit with a strong downlight around the perimeter to bring the front planes of the cars up to about a 5:1 contrast ratio relative to the surrounding ambient lighting, to emphasize the feature of the cars parked under the canopy.  The entrance in front of the door is also illuminated relatively brightly as a wayfinding device into the showroom itself.

Beyond the apron, the cars inside the showroom proper are illuminated to a 10:1 ratio relative to their surroundings, and a 3:1 ratio relative to the cars on the apron.  The overall effect is to create a visual hierarchy and communicate the relative importance of all these elements.  It’s also a good strategy from the standpoint of cost and energy consumption, as high-wattage LED fixtures tend to be quite expensive and so it’s better if you only light the things you want to see.

Car dealership photometric analysis