On the Bright Side: light bites

Diners believe food that’s brightly lit tastes better. In an experiment at a fine-dining restaurant in the Netherlands, scientists found that guests eating under bright ambient light thought that the overall taste of the dish was more intense than guests exposed to dim lighting. And that's not all...

The findings could force a major rethink of how the hospitality sector thinks about lighting and lighting design. A total of 152 people participated in the study and, depending on the day that the guests were visiting the restaurant, they were assigned to either the dim or the bright ambient light side of the restaurant. All were served a special dish which contained the four basic tastes (salt, sour, sweet, and bitter) and multiple textures (such as crispy and creamy elements) while being as balanced as possible. The dish could be consumed within two or three bites and the diners were then asked to rate the overall taste intensity of the dish on a nine-point Likert satisfaction scale. Participants in the brightly-lit section rated the overall taste as more intense than those guests in the section with dim ambient light.

The results show that the ambient lighting level in a restaurant not only affects the overall mood but also changes the overall taste experience of the food being served.

The Cornell University Food and Brand Lab discovered that people eating in a well-lit space are up to 24% more likely to order healthy foods than those in dimly-lit rooms. So why are so many restaurants and bars so dimly-lit? The researchers also analysed sales records of diners in dimly-lit rooms and found that they ordered up to 39% more calories than diners in brightly-lit spaces.

At Light My Space, we believe that no-one (and no space) should have to compromise on great lighting. For bright ideas on how to solve your lighting problems…talk to us. If you have images of good, bad or downright ugly lighting in restaurants, share them with @lightmyspace on Instagram using #GoodBadUgly #LightMyFood


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