Trade Advantage Program

Lighting & Design Glossary - A


Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, a common thermoplastic. It's lightweight, strong and rigid, making it useful in a wide range of applications, including protective cases for clocks and electrical housings, toys (i.e. Lego bricks) and for various lighting fixture components.

AC motors (as well as DC Motors) are commonly found in ceiling fans. The AC motor tends to consume more energy as it must remain switched on as long as the fan is in use. This is slowly being replaced by the quieter, more energy-efficient DC motor, which only operates until the fan reaches the desired speed and then shuts off in favor of a magnet that keeps the fan running.

Accent Lighting

This type of lighting is less about brightness and more about setting a mood and adding style. Lamps are often used as accent lights, and some more decorative (less bright) wall and ceiling light fixtures are accents, too.

ADA Compliant

A lighting fixture that meets requirements as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; typically, ADA compliant lighting fixtures are unobtrusive wall fixtures that extend outward four inches or less.


Usually a fine-grained variety of gypsum, revered for its translucence and softness, which makes it easy to carve into decorative forms.

Ambient Light

Refers to the basic level of lighting in a room. Ambient light is essential because it provides general lighting, thus allowing people to sit and move around in a room with a comfortable amount of overall light and brightness.


Usually applies to aluminum. During the anodizing process, aluminum is placed in a chemical bath, and effectively turns into the positive anode of a chemical battery. This process oxidizes the aluminum's surface, making it harder and corrosion-resistant.


1) to make something (usually furniture) appear aged like an antique, often through specific finish applications or deliberately distressing/wearing the surface
2) to go shopping specifically for antiques.


An opening or hole, specifically referring to the cut-out on a recessed lighting trim where light is visible.

A style of interior and exterior lighting that includes recessed fixtures, track lighting and monorail lighting. Often uses LED as the light source for bright illumiation. See more about architectural lighting.

Design style evolved from Art Nouveau, popular during the 1920s and 1930s. Inspiration from industrial development as well as nature influenced the focus on symmetrical, geometric lines with a minimum of adornment. Sleek, shiny surfaces like chrome and mirror predominate.

Art Glass

Art glass lighting is any of several varieties of glass that use combinations of colors, special effects of opaqueness and transparency, and so forth to create a particular aesthetic effect.

Art Nouveau

French for "new art." Design style popular at the turn of the 20th century. Inspired by nature and the feminine form, it is typified by sinuous, organic lines, ornate detailing, exotic materials and soft colors.


A design style that is strongly influenced by Asian design and culture, and the trees native to Asia. Often includes simple lines and gently contrasting natural colors.