7 Lighting Design Ideas to Elevate Your Next Event5 min read

event lighting blue and gold lights with stars
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The first impression your event makes on attendees has nothing to do with the entertainment, speakers, or presentations. Instead, it’s the feeling attendees get when they initially experience the event space, and your lighting design plays a significant role in that moment.

Your lighting design gives sets the tone and overall vibe. Soft lighting can feel gentle, elegant, and even romantic, while bold choices can make a space energetic, lively, and fun. When you’re creating your lighting design, you want to make sure you get it right. If your goal is to elevate your next event, here are seven lighting design ideas that can help.

1. Showcase Design Features

If you want your attendees to notice a particular design feature, like artistic wall displays or beautiful centerpieces, using lighting strategically is a great way to go. When you illuminate a small area, it stands out visually, increasing the odds that attendees will take notice.

Often, you can use pin lighting to great effect, allowing you to highlight even just a single object among many. However, you can also use other approaches if what you want to showcase is larger.

In the end, what attendees will focus on what you highlight above all else. But it’s your lighting that helps them take notice, ensuring various details aren’t missed.

2. Get Friendly with Gobos

gobo on wall from martin professional light

Gobos are a versatile tool that can help you cast images made of light in a space. You can find them featuring classic patterns and shapes, or have custom ones made, allowing you to showcase a business logo, monograms, and much more.

Depending on the gobos you choose, you can have simple designs projected in one color or can have an entire rainbow of hues display. However, whichever route you choose, the right gobo can up the drama significantly, adding a unique feature that captures the attention of attendees.

3. Try Uplighting

If you want to make a conventional space feel next level, uplighting might be your ideal solution. It can visually expand a smaller room, add color and vibrance to bland walls, and illuminate an area indirectly. You can even place it strategically to make certain parts of the room more visually prominent, allowing the uplighting to guide attendees to key areas within the space.

Controlling the vibe with uplighting is also simple. By adjusting the brightness and color choices, you can achieve anything from subdued elegance to high-energy fun, all with simple changes on the control board.

4. Add Movement

While stationary lighting is certainly functional, by adding moving elements, you can create a new vibe using lighting. Whether it’s the soft twinkling of fairy lights, a rotating gobo, or a full-blown custom light show, movement always draws the eye.

In many cases, you can also use movement to let the attendees know that something exciting is about to happen. By adding moving lighting to a key area, you shift their attention that way. As a result, you can use this approach to guide their focus to an activity, such as the impending start of a presentation, ensuring they are concentrating on the right area at the proper time.

Suggested Reading: Getting Started with DMX Lighting

5. Color-Coding

Sometimes, large events are hard to navigate. While signage is often the most commonly used way to guide attendees to specific areas, it isn’t always ideal from a design perspective. Often, the signs are clunky and take up space in walkways, potentially disrupting the overall flow.

Thankfully, through strategic lighting design, you can go a different route. You can use different hues of light as a form of color-coding. Not only will spaces remain illuminated, but attendees will get a clear guide to various areas, all without bulky signage in the way.

6. Don’t Ignore the Ceiling

large event in tent with lights on ceiling

When you’re planning an event, it’s normal to overlook the potential of the ceiling. The thing is, the ceiling can serve as a blank canvas, giving you an open area that you can use to create a great vibe.

For example, you can use gobos to project images onto the ceiling. By draping string lights along the full expanse strategically, you can mimic a starry sky or simply add a sense of whimsy. The possibilities are essentially as vast as they are with walls, so don’t overlook this area’s potential.

7. Go Low

Just as you don’t want to overlook the ceiling, you can also make use of the area near the floor. Many lighting designs don’t focus on lower portions of the room, which can sometimes be a missed opportunity.

For example, if you use light to define a pathway, you can guide attendees into specific spaces with ease. Most people will instinctively follow the path, allowing you to welcome them into a room subtly. Options like light table bases can be an intriguing design element. Often, the approach is incredibly unexpected, which can work in your favor.

The important part is to consider how lower areas in a room could be used to your advantage. That way, you’re making the most of the entire space, giving you a chance to elevate your next event in incredibly memorable ways.

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