Get The Three Recruit, The Restaurant Lighting Design Easier

Chenlu Zhang

Guest lecturer of Elicht

GERUI LIGHTING DESIGN Partner&Design Director

Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Master of Architectural Lighting

Bachelor of Light Sources and Illuminating Engineering of Fudan University

Certified lighting engineer of America

Member of Illuminating Engineering Society

Sometimes it is quite desperate to work on restaurant lighting, After learning many skills in restaurant lighting design, we still cannot create a good atmosphere of a restaurant.

So as usual, let us see 2 examples first:

▲ After 300 lx of desktop illumination already satisfied, we found that it does not have any elegant atmosphere of restaurant. On the contrary, It seems to be in a lower level.

▲Without main light on desktop, poor wall-washing performance of strip lights, and flower lamps superseding what really counts, so how to design this kind of Chinese restaurant? We have no clue.

Is it difficult to design restaurant lighting? Let’s see the restaurant’s basic lighting design from the points of illuminance distribution, arrangement of luminaire and optical performance.

In fact, different soft furnishing style of a restaurant tends to have a different ambience. Let’s take the example of lighting requirement of Chinese and western restaurants:

  1. Luminous environment of a Chinese restaurant need to create a bright atmosphere, because atmosphere for Chinese meal should be lively and able to see the face of people, so the desktop of restaurant should be uniformly illuminated, at the same time a good color rendering of lighting is required too.
  1. Different with Chinese restaurant, a western restaurant values the privacy of environment, so emphasis of lighting is on the atmosphere of restaurant and presentation of dishes.

Among them, Chinese restaurant need a high and uniform illumination, the ratio of main illumination to average illumination is about from 1:2 to 1:3.

I.Illuminance distribution of restaurant lighting

Below is several common “counter-example”, have you seen it before?

  1. Illumination is too uniform and too high, so the restaurant lacks the top-grade atmosphere

The ratio of illumination in a restaurant should be properly managed, too uniform or too high illumination will make space a little cheap, so the restaurant looks like a tea cafe or a fast food place.

  1. Illumination is too uniform and too low, so appetite could not be stimulated.

If Illumination of restaurant is too uniform and too low, we cannot stimulate the appetite of clients because lacking of accent lighting and could not improve the level of restaurant.

  1. Only considering natural light during daytime, neglecting the insufficient illumination at night

In regards to illumination in Chinese restaurant, we should notice that for seats by the window, their lighting requirement at night should be taken into consideration. We should avoid neglecting its lighting requirement at night because of plentiful daylight.

II.Selection and arrangement of lighting fixture

The lighting fixture used by basic lighting of Chinese restaurant is mainly downlight and spot light, the beam angle is usually middle and wide angle. In aisle the non-adjustable lighting fixture is usually used, and adjustable lighting fixture is often used for wall-washing or illuminating decoration.

And the accent lighting in Chinese restaurant is usually using adjustable lighting fixture, whose beam angle is mostly middle or narrow angle, so it can accurately illuminate on the required place on the desk.

It has big difference in a Chinese restaurant with or without accent lighting, obviously the desk with accent lighting could better express dishes, so as to activate the appetite of diners.

Now, how to design the accent lighting of Chinese restaurant correctly?

Here is a format that you need to label.

  1. First, the light fixture above the dining table should be adjustable spot light. Because the angle of Chinese restaurant is wider, so the beam angle is suggested to be 20°-30°, and lumen of each lamp be 500-600lm.
  2. Secondly, the installation position of spot light should avoid the problem of shade from ceiling lamp.
  3. The last thing is to determine amount of spot light needed on the dining table, normally they are half the amount of people at the dining table, if the surroundings is brighter, then add one more spot light.

For example: the dining table of 2 persons need 1PCS spot light, for 4 persons it need 2PCS spot light.

Table of 6 persons can use 3PCS spot light, if 10 persons then 6 spot light, and so on.

For very large hotel‘s restaurant, for example, for a dining place of 20 persons, the amount of spot light could be increased properly, maybe 12PCS. If the space is rather high, the amount could be added up to 15PCS.

III.Suggestion on optical performance of restaurant

In the end, the presentation of lighting effects of restaurant comes back to control of optical performance of lighting fixture. Good optical performance is very important to creating restaurant’s character.

1.Color temperature shouldn’t be too high

Although the Chinese restaurant atmosphere in is biased toward excitement, the color temperature shouldn’t be too high, the warm tone of 3000K-3500K is suggested. And western restaurant prefer warm and relaxing atmosphere, so color temperature of 2700K-3000K is suggested.

2.Color rendering Ra>90

The expression of dishes depends on the assist of lamplight with high color rendering index. Obviously the color rendering index higher than 90 can better express appearance of dishes, so as to improve the appetite of diner.



Among them, R9 is very important to expression of meat, the lamplight with high R9 can make meat look fresh and improve the appetite. So the R9 of lighting fixture on dining table is better to be higher than 30, at least no less than 0.

In the basic Chinese restaurant lighting design method, can be solved many problems, if we conquer these 3 points, but it is not entire content of lighting in Chinese restaurant. Because in restaurant lighting, we should also consider district illumination, material used restaurant decoration, the collocation of direct and indirect light (for example, the relation between troffer and downlight, proper usage of colorful light, set up of scene mode (the adjustable scene mode of lamplight during day and night, and the selection of lighting fixture of restaurant etc.

IV.Additional notes

  1. Lighting in separate areas

Roughly we can divide the restaurant lighting into entrance zone, public zone, VIP zone. The lighting in entrance zone is relatively simple, the average illumination in the public zone is relatively higher, and the ratio of accent lighting to general Lighting in VIP zone, can be increased properly.

  1. Different material, different lamplight
  2. The collocation of direct and indirect light

In restaurant, normally indirect light comes from troffer, upward-lighting wall lamp or table lamp, this concerns the collocation of troffer and downlight. Therefore, the amount of downlight used before confirming, the affection of indirect light such as troffer etc. to illumination is suggested to be considered first.

  1. Reasonable colorful light can improve atmosphere
  2. The lamplight mode which is adjustable during day and night
  3. Performance of lighting fixture affects design effect directly

Obviously, the basic lighting method in Chinese restaurant is not suitable for other kinds of restaurant, like western restaurant, cafeteria, Japanese restaurant. But from the logic of lighting method in Chinese restaurant, you can try and see if you can find the lighting logic in other kinds of restaurants.

Read in: 简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified))

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