Accent lighting is used as a complement to general lighting, bringing certain areas of the building to the fore. It may add depth, texture or shade to the general appearance of the space or its primary purpose may be to draw the eye to particular areas of the internal or external architecture.

Accent lighting is usually provided by directional luminaires such as spotlights, floodlights or uplighters and supplements the general lighting provided by other luminaires. Accent lighting may also make use of different coloured light to increase the contrast with the general lighting.

When designing a lighting system that makes use of accent lighting it is important to get the balance right and ensure that the accent lighting complements the general lighting, rather than conflicting with it. For that reason it is essential to fully understand the purpose of the accent lighting in the context of each individual project in the very earliest stages of design.

As accent lighting luminaires, such as spotlights or floodlights on a track, are often highly visible within the space, consideration should also be given to the aesthetics of the luminaires themselves.