The primary objective of a surface suspended below the main ceiling also referred to as false ceiling is to conceal electrical wiring and give uniformity in interiors. Made from Plaster of Paris (POP), gypsum, wood, fabric, mirror, metal strips or glass among others, it adds a design element and helps provide accent lighting effects. Interior Designer Anish Motwani, proprietor Anish Motwani Associates gives a detailed account of the design trends in interior false ceilings.
A false ceiling has now become an integral part of modern interior design. It can make a dramatic visual impact on any space and does not even have to be complex. Suspended approximately one feet distance from the primary ceiling, the false ceiling is fixed either hanging from the main ceiling or between the frames connecting walls and panels. The area between the main ceiling and the false ceiling known as plenum space can be used to veil wiring, ductwork and piping.
The most obvious aspect of ceiling design concerns aesthetics. The design, material and layout depends on the interior style or theme, the designer needs for the space. The most common material Plaster of Paris (POP) is applied to a fiberboard or a wood base, which is then suspended to form the false ceiling. The surface can be coloured, tinted, textured or embossed according to the design. Wooden false ceiling offers a colonial charm. Either painted or polished they are well suited to formal living areas. Lightweight, soundproof and fire & moisture resistant gypsum boards are tough and economical and are increasingly being used in office and commercial areas. A gypsum panel could have tapered or square edges for almost invisible joints. Also, as it is quite flexible, the panels allow for various shapes and designs such as plain, curved, stepped, coffered, pelmet, drop design, etc. A combination of wood and stained glass or mirrored surface & gypsum panels creates a visual impact. Innovative backlit glass ceilings, bamboo and coir matting ceiling surfaces and ceilings in tiles, veneers, particleboard, fabric and faux leather are other creative design options. The latest is the photographs and digital printing on the ceilings.
For residences, plain white gypsum ceiling with direct and indirect light effects looks great. Tray ceiling, textured ceiling, bold ceiling colors, or wood plank ceiling with suspended hanging lights and chandeliers break the monotony in the ceiling and gives the needed warmth with the lights. Many a times custom designed light fittings are hung upon focus areas like sitting area in living room, dining or sleeping space in bedrooms to highlight the area. Thematic false ceilings in kid’s room are popular with homeowners.
In offices, usually straight-line plain ceiling with less or very limited indirect lights are used. The focus in these spaces is more on functionality and workers visual comfort than creating design effect. Thus, the work areas feature gypsum-ceiling panels that are installed quickly and individual panels can be removed easily for repairs. The latest trend in office design is to create a dramatic false ceiling in the reception and lobby areas, in sync with the company branding (colours, design, logo) along with built in indirect and accent lighting.
Ceiling for retail spaces like boutique, showrooms and gaming zones bring in an element of creativity and give designers an opportunity to play with styles, designs and colours. Instead of continuous false ceiling, floating ceiling clouds in metal, fabric or other interesting materials and creative paint effects can provide striking results. In one of our projects for a boutique store with ceiling height of 14 feet, hanging a scooter from the ceiling gave a playful touch to the whole atmosphere. The ceiling lights near the scooter focus on the display shelves highlighting the products.
Similarly, restaurants can be styled in unique manner and design depending on the theme of the cuisine and interior style. For example, the classic or ethnic style is well complemented by mix of wood and gypsum ceiling. For a retro style of interior, colorful ceiling with psychedelic light effects is more appropriate. Pubs and lounge areas emphasize more on the ceiling part where LED lights and lights for dance floor/ music systems have to be suspended from the ceiling. Ceiling selection is also crucial for adequate acoustics in these areas.
A current trend is to leave structural beams/joists and mechanical ductwork exposed as visual elements, which can sometimes be acoustically uncomfortable. The false ceilings apart from the aesthetics and functional advantages of concealing imperfections on the slabs, ducting and wiring also provide a sound buffer, higher lighting reflectance and energy efficiency benefits.