Who doesn’t love a good book? We’re definitely testament to this at Nulty – our shelves are packed to the rafters with a whole host of reads. Yet there are always a number of books that standout: the ones that are loved, cherished, relied upon and continually referenced.

In the field of lighting design there are loads of great books out there, covering all aspects of light and written from a diverse range of viewpoints. So we thought we’d share some of our favourites.

Light Years (Brian Clegg)

This classic book encapsulates the stories of scientists, artists and the light obsessed through history as they strive to unlock the secrets of this intangible thing called “light”, which we so often take for granted. Clegg explains the complex theories and properties of light with ease, interjected with little nuggets of trivia and whimsical anecdotes along the journey. It’s a very accessible book covering an extraordinary range of information, and it provides a great foundation for further reading.

Eye and Brain: The Psychology of Seeing (Richard L Gregory)

This influential book was first published in 1966 with subsequent editions: it’s widely regarded as the essential introduction and guide to the basic phenomena of visual perception. It offers clear explanations on how we see brightness, movement, colour and objects. Gregory has filled the pages with visual demonstrations, puzzles and illusions, using them to explore and establish principles about how perception normally works and why it sometimes fails.

Lighting (D C Pritchard)

This is the textbook for architectural lighting designers. It covers the fundamentals, starting with the theory of light, how light is perceived, units and terminology, equipment and basic design principals. It complies with the CIBSE lighting code and guides, covers the main calculations that a lighting designer needs to do and includes worked examples. It’s crucial reading for anyone who wants to become a lighting designer, and it will be a reference book you’ll refer back to throughout your career.

Stage Lighting Design: The Art, the Craft, the Life (Richard Pilbrow)

If you’re after a theatre lighting bible, then this is it. It covers the history, theory and practice of theatre lighting and also includes interviews with other lighting designers. At its core, stage lighting design is about creating a sense of place and atmosphere through the use of light. Be it theatre, film or architecture, the guiding principals are the same – it’s just the brief that differs.

Daylighting: Architecture and Lighting Design (Peter Tregenza & Michael Wilson)

Daylight is a subject that crosses professional boundaries and disciplines. For anyone working and designing with natural light, be they a lighting designer, architect, healthcare professional or engineer, this book provides the fundamental knowledge and tools to do so. It covers a wide range of topics including what light is, daylight climate and factors, criteria of good daylighting, energy, control and collecting of daylight, acknowledging that good lighting design requires both knowledge and imagination.

The Architecture of Natural Light (Henry Plummer)

This book leads nicely on from daylighting because it shows how some of the world’s most influential architects have incorporated daylight into their designs. Each chapter is devoted to looking at a particular quality of natural light, looking not only at architectural projects, but also at how it’s used by different disciplines: from art history, to film and literature.

The Colours of Light (Tadao Ando)

If you want a beautiful “coffee table” book on the subject then look no further than this exquisite portfolio – the result of ten years’ collaboration between the English photographer Richard Pare and the Pritzker prize-winning architect Tadao Ando. Pare’s photographs break with the usual conventions of architectural photography, focussing on the essence rather than the literal, and are accompanied by Ando’s sketches and an introductory essay by Tom Heneghan.

Light and Emotion: Exploring Lighting Cultures (Produced by: Philips)

“Light and Emotion” is a series of conversations with influential lighting designers from around the globe, recording their views and approaches to the aesthetical and emotional aspects of architectural lighting design. It’s had “an overwhelming response from designers, architects, engineers, students and the general public all over the world”, so it goes without staying that it’s a must read. And it’s illustrated with a generous collection of project photos too.

Lighting by Design (Sally Storey)

If you’re looking for some inspiration and guidance on lighting for your home and garden, then Sally’s book has solutions for every room – looking at both the creative and practical considerations. It encourages you to experiment and helps you to maximise the potential of light to transform your home.

You Say Light, I Think Shadow (Sandra Praun and Aleksandra Stratimirovic)

One hundred and nine creative professionals including artists, photographers, architects, lighting designers, writers and filmmakers answer the deceptively simple question “What is light?”. Collated and visualised by the authors, this book is not only a fascinating incite into people’s different perceptions of light, but it’s also a beautiful, bold piece of award-winning graphic design in its own right. Without using a single image (yes, really) this book visually conveys and expresses each contribution through the considered use of typography and materials.

Made of Light: The Art of Light and Architecture (Jonathan Speirs, Anthony Tischhauser & Mark Major)

From the hugely influential lighting design practice Speirs + Major, this book was part of a larger project including an exhibition that set out to convey their passion for light. It’s packed full of photographs and sketches, and while it includes some of the practice’s own projects, it also looks at the wider context of light through a series of essays and observations.

In Praise Of Shadows (Junichiro Tanizaki)

Lock your door, turn off your mobile, dim down the lights and immerse yourself in Tanizaki’s classic essay on Japanese aesthetics. His passion for light, darkness and architecture doesn’t so much shine through, as fall in soft dappled layers, reminding us all of the value and beauty that can be found in the absence of light (beginning with some musings on the delights of monastery lavatories).

James Turrell: A Retrospective (Michael Govan & Christine Y Kim)

This is a retrospective of one of the most well-known and prolific light artists. The book covers over 40 years of James Turrell’s exploration of the medium of light through a collection of essays, conversations, sketches and beautiful imagery.

An inviting characteristic of the lighting fraternity, and probably one of the reasons we’ve become such an innovative industry, is that we all come from different backgrounds and have a different story to tell about how we “found the light”. There’s a wonderful conversation between Christine Y Kim and James Turrell, where you really get a sense of Turrell’s journey, starting with his Quaker upbringing and watching Flash Gordon at Peter Arnold’s house, through to how he became the master of perception.

Light Talk: A Year in the Life of Light (Martin Klaasen)

Martin is an influential award-winning lighting designer with over 30 years’ experience. If you want a true insight into the life of a professional lighting designer then look no further than his book “Light Talk”. It’s a compilation of a year’s worth of daily blog posts covering…well everything: places he visits, people he meets, challenges, successes, and general musings of a lighting designer sharing his experiences and talking about the subjects he came across that day.

Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light (Jane Brox)

This book is a compelling history of how light, in its varying forms, has influenced human lives through the centuries. From the days when we were reliant on natural light as our main source, through to the revolution that was electric lighting and everything in-between. It asks us to consider both the benefits and the pitfalls that technological developments have brought with them, and touches on the disparity around the world in terms of access to artificial light.