Thursday, October 13, 2011

A room with Migraine lighting

WARNING - Migraine Sufferers Should Avoid this Post - WARNING

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Really: thinking about migraines is a migraine trigger for many folks.

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It made me sick. The memory of the room makes me sick.

Do you get migraine headaches? Do you recognize your triggers? I get them and I can sometimes recognize my triggers.

Last night I went to a lecture in a trigger room. It's brand new, it's wonderful, it's huge, it still has the new car smell. It made me sick.

I exaggerated the contrast in this picture but it captures the essence. It's an evenly lit grey room with bright slivers on the walls and ceiling. The house lights were low so we could the the slide show. That emphasized the bright slashes.

Instinct warned me. I found a seat at the very front and cupped my hands like horse blinders so I couldn't see the walls. I enjoyed the lecture and bolted as soon as it was over.

When I encounter trigger room, a room with migraine lighting, I just want to shake some sense into the designer.

Don't they teach this stuff in lighting design school?

There is another lighting problem in the room, not a migraine problem but one that works against human comfort.

Design Pattern 252. POOLS OF LIGHT

"Uniform illumination - the sweetheart of the lighting engineers - serves no useful purpose whatsoever. In fact, it destroys the social nature of space, and makes people feel disoriented and unbounded...One word of caution. This pattern is easy to understand; and perhaps it is easy to agree with. But it is quite a subtle matter to actually create functioning pools of light in the environment."
A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein.


  1. Terry, that is a nightmare lighting plan and I would've run out of the
    place screaming. The cleverest architects seem blind (no pun intended)
    to the effects of artificial lighting but yours is an example unparalleled.
    And thanks for the brilliant quote that wrapped up your post.

  2. I know exactly what you mean. As a migraine sufferer myself, I steer clear of this kind of lighting. Awful office fluorescents, too. Yikes.

  3. The ceiling lights might have been OK by themselves, and there were plenty of other lights in there that might have mitigated it. As is was, I believe even the non-migraine folks didn't feel so hot in that room. I can still feel it and it doesn't feel good.


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