THE WALL GRAZE
‘A range of manufacturers now offer dedicated
products for this application,’ says Mindseye’s Doug
James, ‘with a variety of optical performance.’
The aim of this technique is to get a spread of light
across the entire wall. At the Dolder Grand Hotel in
Zurich, Speirs + Major used point sources to illuminate
the cobbled walls in the spa area, and Lighting Design
International did the same at The Spa at Gleneagles
Hotel in Scotland.
There is a choice to be made between high impact,
narrow beam lighting, which is mostly a direct light
source, or the softer approach from a diffused source.
‘With a diffused source you don’t get scalloping, which
is an inevitable side effect of a point source, but you do
still lose that travel of light down the wall,’ says James.
Mindseye used LEDs at a swimming pool to make a
feature out of the mosaic back wall. For a decent effect,
the LEDs have to be mounted in a continuous row.
James recommends collimated LEDs in this case, with
an elongation lens to emphasise the wash.’
Wall grazing is popular in lobbies, reception areas and
corridors – anywhere that benefits from clean light
with no overhead fittings: ‘It allows you to do away
with any other ceiling-mounted lighting,’ says James.
It’s perhaps no surprise that the US started using the
wall graze before anyone else. It is less common in
Europe simply because expansive feature walls are
relatively unusual. But, as James points out, a wall
graze is a simple and effective way to create a point of
interest in what could otherwise be a dead space.
‘It comes into its own when you have a large wall with
some kind of texture, like rough stone or chain mail.
But you run the risk of illuminating imperfections. It’s
safer when you know there’s going to be some texture.’
With the fixtures mounted so close to the wall, using
the wall graze to illuminate pieces of hanging art is also
unfeasible. The narrow angle of light would produce
shadowing with even a small frame, so supplementary
lighting would be needed to light the artwork.
The angle of light and the type of light source have a big
impact on this technique, largely because the light has
to travel a fair distance to evenly illuminate the wall.
The distance between the fittings is another important
factor, according to James. ‘Be very careful about what
happens when two fittings meet. The pattern needs to
be kept even along the wall,’ he warns.
The texture of the wall and numerous other variables
call for thorough planning beforehand. ‘Test the beam
angles and position of the fittings on a mock-up before
you start,’ advises James. ‘And it’s always a good idea to
ask yourself: does the wall deserve this treatment?’
Above: At the Spa at Gleneagles,
Lighting Design International
used point sources to throw light
down the length of the walls
Opposite: Fittings are mounted
close to the wall to produce a
narrow angle of light, set back
from the ceiling line in a trough