Outdoor Design

Designing outdoor lighting: here are solutions you haven’t thought of

Posted On 1 July 2020

When designing outdoor lighting, remember that effective designer lighting is indispensable not only to make outdoor spaces better during summer evenings but also to enjoy them when the weather is cooler.

First of all, it focuses on plants and large furnishings such as chairs, vases, tables, etc. and completely avoids anything that may be unpleasant to the eye, such as a shed in the background or an unrefined railing. The imperative is always not to overdo it. Illuminate only the best parts, keeping in mind that even a small light can create a good setting in the dark.

Again, divide the garden into areas, identifying the access paths, the main paths, and the most reserved and decorative areas: for each area, provide different lighting and treatments to obtain the best result.

As a last precaution to get a complete preliminary picture, experiment with the right lighting for each area using a flashlight: illuminating the various areas, pots, plants, chairs, and architectural forms with a flashlight in the evening and at night, you can test the lighting from different angles and understand which one is the best for each scenographic element.

Let's take a look at how to design the ideal outdoor lighting.


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How to design optimal outdoor lighting

To design optimal outdoor lighting, you will need to carry out a somewhat complex preliminary study of the structure, looking closely at the size of the outdoor spaces and how they are structured.

To start designing a lighting system for a designer garden, you must take the measurements of any available green area, so that you can consider which type of system is most suitable.

You should choose the most suitable type of external lighting based on the area in question: for example, you can choose a soft light near the flower beds and plants, or opt for more scenographic lighting for the convivial areas.

Fundamental importance is given to the intensity of the light emitted by the lighting system: it must not create problems of excessive brightness in the walkway and garden areas. Therefore, you must carefully choose the type of outdoor lamps most suitable for the context.

Finally, pay attention to the light points so that the lamps you will install can blend elegantly with other lighting systems such as facade lighting or swimming pool lighting.

When designing outdoor lighting, you need to make your choices based on three elements:

  1. The type of light, based on the needs required by the area you are illuminating. For example, if you need to illuminate the swimming pool area, you will have to study the area to find the most suitable lighting system, so that your client can fully enjoy the swimming pool without being bothered by poorly oriented lights.
  2. The type of lamp, which depends on what you need to illuminate or on the function of the light.
  3. The design of the lamp, which represents the identity of the outdoor space and your client’s taste, giving character and personality to the whole environment.


    Designing outdoor lighting: here are solutions you haven’t thought of 1

    Don't Touch

How to design outdoor lighting

In your outdoor lighting project, you should consider illuminating the trees if present, in particular, those with a robust bark. These trees are very interesting design elements, such as an olive tree or a birch: for the best lighting, place a 50-watt spotlight near the base of the trunk, so that the light beam creates a play on light and shadows through the branches of the tree.

This type of light creates a particularly scenographic effect, immediately giving the feeling that the general lighting has been well designed and cared for, leaving nothing to chance.

If the environment requires it, you can also create a dreamlike fairy light, by hanging suspensions or garlands of light from the branches of the most voluminous trees. Moreover, through the use of a chair or a table positioned immediately below, you can also provide a very fun setting that is particularly suitable for photographs during outdoor events. However, remember to choose warm lights to create a soft and welcoming atmosphere.

Your project must ensure that the outdoor space becomes an extension of the indoor space even at night: decoratively use the light to highlight different shapes and particular characteristics, and, to obtain a suggestive look, do not focus only on the light but also on the shadows!

Then spread out the light points in a strategically practical way. You can add a warm and welcoming touch by integrating both suspended and floor-standing lanterns, such as the Cell lamp by Karman, which follows the structure and spirit of the ancient Chinese lanterns, or the Alibabig lamp by Karman, which gives the sensation of the enveloping light of the sea at sunset.


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Illuminate paths and entrances

Path lighting has two functions: scenic design and safety. Iluminating the trees and keeping the rest in the dark is a hazard that is not recommended; it is always good to highlight the path in the garden with soft lights.

Remember to proceed by priority, because each lighting fixture that you will insert in your outdoor lighting project will contribute to generating your client's outdoor style: first illuminate the functional parts, i.e., paths, entrances, patios, swimming pools, and then the most suggestive elements, like trees, walls, and borders.

You can illuminate the paths with recessed spotlights, on the floor or the wall, or with designer floor lamps, such as Don’t touch by Karman, to be integrated on the lawn, or Gervaso by Karman, which can contain your client’s plants, composing an avenue that is functional and has a unique style to embellish the area.

The entrances must be illuminated by appliquès and floor lamps. A design solution with regard to the floor lamps is certainly the Tobia collection by Karman, which incorporates standard garden tools for a unique function and design. For the appliquès, a functional solution with an interesting and unusual design is the Eden collection by Karman, ideal for illuminating with elegance and good taste.

When illuminating doors, gates, intercoms, driveways, and the like, place the outdoor appliquès and floor lamps at a suitable height so that the affected area is clearly visible. In this way, you will avoid leaving dark spaces around the perimeter. As a result, your client can easily access the outdoor areas.


Designing outdoor lighting: here are solutions you haven’t thought of 3

Bacco e Tobia

How to set up the outdoor lighting for tables, seating, and barbeques

Having seen how to design the outdoor lighting for the various areas that make up your client’s outdoor area, let's take a look at how to optimally illuminate the parts that actually make an outdoor space functional and pleasant, and that allow your client to enjoy this space fully.


Designing outdoor lighting: here are solutions you haven’t thought of 4


How to design the outdoor lighting of the tables

Even outdoors, dining tables need direct light, so a suspension or a point that illuminates the table from above is necessary.

Depending on how the table is positioned, you can use suspended lights attached to a pergola or floor lamps such as Black out by Karman: a perfect union between a modern and vintage style that will guarantee a design with an enveloping atmosphere.


Designing outdoor lighting: here are solutions you haven’t thought of 5

Black Out

How to set up the external lighting for the seating areas

Seating can be illuminated with wall, floor, or table lamps and also with bright furnishings, such as vases or the chairs themselves. You can create different combinations to give movement and character to spaces, choosing from the Karman outdoor catalog, which offers you various solutions with a unique and captivating design thanks to which you can unleash your creativity.


Designing outdoor lighting: here are solutions you haven’t thought of 6

Don't Touch

How to set up the lighting for the barbecue

Summer is synonymous with grilling with friends, therefore, you will have to illuminate the cooking area ad hoc. Functional lighting passes through a well-positioned point, not casting a shadow on the grill, leaving it, on the contrary, always well-lit to facilitate its use without visual hitches.

Another interesting idea, both from a functional and luminous point of view, is to place an outdoor barbeque alongside the seating area, to use the lighting of a single outdoor area to shed light on two elements simultaneously and create the right atmosphere to warm up the colder evenings.


Designing outdoor lighting: here are solutions you haven’t thought of 7


IP regulations for outdoor lighting

Ingress Protection, or IP, is the ability of a lighting fixture to resist atmospheric agents, both solid and liquid.

In your outdoor lighting project, you must take into account that every outdoor lighting fixture has an IP protection degree, and when this is not adequate for the application, it can lead to the emergence of problems, even serious ones, of the safety of the lighting system.

In general, this value is indicated with the initials IP followed by two numbers, for example, IP65: the first digit indicates the value of protection against the risk of penetration of solids such as dust or mold and, consequently, against the possibility of accidental contacts by a user; the second digit indicates the protection value against the penetration of liquid substances, such as rain and water.

For standard outdoor light installations, the most common products have a degree of protection that varies from IP44 to IP68: for example, a lighting fixture with an IP44 value has less valid protection against water penetration than an IP45 or IP46 but can be used safely if not directly exposed to rain.


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Designing outdoor lighting using solutions you had not thought of to guarantee quality and design to your client

Undoubtedly, when designing outdoor lighting, it is very important to use long-lasting systems that do not require continuous maintenance, that are able to withstand weathering, and that respect the environment with very low energy consumption.

In accordance with this concept, we have seen that in your outdoor lighting project, you have to start by dividing the different areas that will be illuminated, then use a flashlight to find the right locations for the light installations.

Once this is done, you must illuminate each area, taking into account the most suitable type of light depending on the function for which each area is intended, then choose the right type of lamp based on the space you are illuminating, in conjunction with the style and design that is optimal for each lighting fixture you choose. 

Once the general lighting is set, you should illuminate the access points and furnishings that your client has provided for the outdoor space. Create the right light for entrance doors, gates, tables, seating, and the cooking area, if provided, so that everything is easily recognizable and usable, without shadows and dark spots. You should also avoid blinding the people who use those spaces, which makes it unpleasant to stay in outdoor spaces and means creating an unsuccessful lighting project.

In addition, make sure you properly illuminate the pathways and driveways, to guide those who cross through these areas towards the various destinations with light, not too bright but avoiding shadows; or you could play with the light and shadows strategically to create effects with clear intentions.


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For more information, support, and assistance in choosing the right lamp models for your decorative lighting project, do not hesitate to contact us at this link. We are at your complete disposal.

Camilla Rossi


Camilla Rossi



Karman, an Italian company, was founded in 2005 in Fossombrone. The company's world moves itself with simplicity towards an original and personal decorative use of lighting in both private surroundings and public spaces.