Isolation Light: Tips from Lighting Designer Vlad Oblasov

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This article is written by Vlad Oblasov, a Moscow based Lighting Designer. The article was initially written in Russian and published in Isolation magazine. Being a big fan of Vlad’s sketches and work as a Lighting Designer, I thought that you would love to read his tips and insights on how we should be lighting up our houses. Enjoy and Share the Light 🙂


“You need to set up your filters in the right way. You should always protect yourself from the noise,” — an important tip from Michael Anastasiades in a video for Flos.

Within the city structure, we really find ourselves in conditions of strong information pollution, from which we should hide. This is the only way to maintain internal balance and purity of consciousness. Currently, we are also limited by the space of visual perception, by being in our own apartments for such a long time. This means that our filters need to be reconfigured.

It is surprising to me that not only ordinary users but also professionals do not think seriously about the light environment in the city, in the courtyard or the apartment – it is not so important where exactly because it is important everywhere. We live in the dual world of day and night, and much of our life happens after the sunset. A high-quality light environment is the basis of a person’s quality of life after sunset.

Now that we have to rethink and re-invent our own housing, updating it for different tasks, light can become one of the most important ways of adaptation and transformation. In this article, I propose the consideration of various lighting schemes that will help improve the quality of your lighting environment.

Classic room lighting

A historically established constant in each apartment: one light fixture per ceiling zone. Therefore, in each room, there is always one ceiling lamp. This rule is always relevant regardless of trends (let’s discuss exceptions privately). In my practice, I am becoming more and more convinced that living spaces do not need to be overloaded with light fixtures. It is best if this single device is a source of diffused light.

Even decorative fixtures can be functional. The balance of aesthetics and function is important. Soft light can be achieved both through diffusers and through reflection. In addition to the distribution of light in space, this guarantees high visual comfort and the absence of annoying, blinding light sources.

Lighting Sketches Vlad Oblasov
Vlad Oblasov Lighting Sketches

This is the scenario that is needed for a complete perception of the room, its details. You need it to search for documents, cleaning and other routine tasks.

Working space

We have been told many times how to work from home productively, but I have never heard the features of light being discussed by the general public. At the same time, the term Human Centric Lighting has long existed in our professional environment, which denotes the direction of lighting, focused on improving the quality of a person’s life, mood, health, and productivity. It is based on numerous studies of the biological characteristics of a person, their circadian rhythms, and the production of various hormones.

So, knowing that high-intensity cold light activates your body and reduces the production of sleep hormone – melatonin, you can use a device with a colour temperature of 4000K in the working area, which will allow you to cheer up a little. There are many table lamps with variable brightness and colour temperature (2700K-5000K), which allows you to adjust the atmosphere over time.

Vlad Oblasov lighting design sketches
Vlad Oblasov lighting sketches

As mentioned above, diffused light is most comfortable for the eyes, therefore it is better not to use accent devices for work: directional light creates excessive contrasting shadows, and the light source is often a bright distracting, and sometimes dazzling. But even such instances can be transformed into reflected light fixtures, which will create the most comfortable atmosphere.

Vlad Oblasov Sketches

Working behind a monitor is very stressful for the eyes. It is important to give them rest and do visual gymnastics. Also, eye pressure can be reduced by mitigating the brightness of the monitor with a bright background behind it. Lighting the wall softens contrasts and allows the gaze to smoothly adapt when moving between different visual environments.

Vlad Oblasov Lighting design

A similar trick also works well for online conferences, which are now happening more often. The light located behind the monitor evenly and gently illuminates the face, allowing you to establish better visual contact with the interlocutor.

Think about the placement of background light as well, so that the picture is soft and organic. It can be either general light in the room or additional local lighting. Do not forget to note that the location of the device behind you also has an important role, as it can create glare on the monitor and light in the webcam.

Vlad Oblasov lighting sketches

Productive work is not possible without active pauses. Be careful with your eyes and create some atmosphere in the apartment, in the background. The same rule of contrasts works as with a monitor: a holistic and smooth light environment helps the eyes to better adapt in space.

Leisure space

Vision operates in a sequential fixation mode. Since the use of only general light does not create visual accents in space, it is important to supplement it with small inclusions. It can be floor lamps, table lamps, as well as hidden lighting. Various combinations of several techniques will allow you to select the appropriate atmosphere for each of the possible scenarios: watching a movie, reading books or even romantic leisure.

The best scripting tool is a floor lamp. A floor lamp can be moved from zone to zone, changing its functionality and atmosphere. If the floor lamp is directed down, it adds chamberings and a cosiness. When the lamp is turned up, it works as a source of general light, but maintains the intimacy of space due to low illumination. The same can be said about adjustable table lamps.

Vlad Oblasov Lighting sketches
Vlad Oblasov Lighting Design Sketches

Table lamps with diffused light are not only a source of lighting but also a decorative element. This limits their functionality but adds to the atmosphere. A combination of several fixtures can replace a common light source. It has become quite obvious that many of us during our leisure time lack the colours that surround us in third spaces: cafes, bars, and restaurants. After all, after winter, gradients of grey colour always inspire.

I know that some of my friends ordered RGBW smart lamps controlled from the phone. They have a standard base and can replace classic lamps in existing devices while working both in the usual format with warm light and changing colour.

Vlad Oblasov Sketches
Vlad Oblasov Lighting Sketches with annotations

Personally, I was saved in such a situation by the presence of various samples of lamps and an LED strip that was able to change colours using the controller. Shades of colour are selected according to the mood and very strongly support it. Take a look around and try to find unobvious places in the interior. The colour combined with the non-standard location will impress you.

Vlad Oblasov sketches

Hidden colour light can serve as a great backdrop when watching movies. Separately lucky for those who have a TV with the ambient light function, which not only enhances the viewing experience but also softens the screen contrast.

A separate point I want to highlight is about candles. Not even of the most beautiful lamps can replace the careful dynamics of fire. Such a timeless reception is able to fill the comfort of any evening.

Vlad Oblasov sketches light


The basis of the rules is someone else’s experience. Following them, we avoid our own mistakes. But some rules should be violated in order to allow freedom for experimentation.

I’ll be glad if my notes are useful to someone. But even more, I’ll be glad if people begin to pay attention to the light, work with the light, explore its capabilities. Let’s not just look around, I suggest we try to see differently.

Vlad Oblasov, lighting designer | Moscow, Russia | | Instagram – @v.oblasov

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