The week that was 14-18 March 2016
Singapore – Frankfurt -Europe, Weekend 19-20 March 2016
“The L&B 2016 Chronicles”…
It is probably fair to say that all who visited L&B in Frankfurt this past week find themselves in the same state of physical and mental exhaustion this weekend. The adrenaline of excitement both from seeing the latest product developments as well as catching up with our friends in the industry in combination with booth and dinner parties takes a considerable toll…but it is a very satisfactory one as I look back with great pleasure and memories of yet another successful edition of L&B where I caught up with so many people and found yet again much inspiration to carry me forward in the year ahead. It was a special edition for me as I multitasked my attendance between my own KLD lighting design team and a delegation of the Chinese Lighting Designers Association for which I am an international advisor.
Below I have listed my impressions from L&B 2016 which I have tried to group together in various topics (in no particular order):
Miniaturisation. There is no doubt that the lighting industry has (finally) taken a big step towards miniaturisation of lighting. While it was always expected as a result of the compact nature of LED technology, heat issues had prevented real developments till now, but it seems that we have arrived at a point where the lighting can be really miniaturised to a level that starts to defy our imagination. Many companies like IGuzzini, Flos, Aldabra, Alto, ACDC, XAL. Delta, Zumtobel, amongst others have succeeded in developing mini down lights and spots with quite an incredible light output. With fixture diameters of less than 25mm it is now really becoming a main direction forward. But the winner of all this miniaturisation for me was Viabizzuno who showed of their super mini spot light, not much bigger than your little pinkie. I love this trendy development as I am all for not seeing the light fixture…add trim-less into the equation and you can see where this is heading!
Optics. This is probably the next big thing in lighting world. Most companies have made huge steps forward in improving their optical system. With LED chip technology mostly being on even footing for all manufacturers differences are made with the sophistication of the optics. Prolicht secured the services of a former Bartenbach optics engineer and the results are there for all to see, great fixtures with great optical performances. Not surprisingly these are achieved through greatly improved reflector technologies. Several companies showed this off. On the other side there are a number of manufacturers that have improved their performances through lens technologies (Zumtobel and many others). Clever lens configurations contribute to a far more efficient light distribution with far better optical (glare) control…quite impressive.
Novelties and new concepts. As always L&B is a platform to show off (or test) new ideas, and this year was no different. A new concept is not always that easy and obvious to spot as it is not a mainstream display and is often shown only as a low key demonstration (to assess general feedback). Though not fully a novelty FLOS motorised track spot was still a very intriguing and exciting concept. Not only is the spot remotely controllable with pan and tilt angles the added linear movement along the track adds a totally new dimension to remote controlled lighting. Slated for release later this year it is bound to find many applications! FLOS’ suspended linear ceiling concept also offers many exciting opportunities for the lighting designers. Aldabra showed of their “Mikado” based linear system concept, which allows you to criss-cross connect linear lights to each other without the visual pollution of visible power cables. Artemide had a concept spot that integrates ambient white and/or RGB with a dedicated directional spot light, interesting but probably with limited application opportunities. Also seen at the Artemide booth and some others is the polarisation of glass from being either see through or illuminated. Though shown only as a pendant and wall fixture I could see great potential where daylight could be integrated as part of the lighting design concept. This of course is the sole and unique feature of Coelux a concept that was launched at PLDC in Copenhagen and never stops to amaze. The daylight qualities achieved through the artificial skylight are amazing. Motoko Ishi was back with Sumito Chemichal showing a colourful and arty display of OLEDs.
Technology There are the leaders, the innovators and then there are the followers. It was blatantly obvious that some successful concepts introduced over the last few years were being copied and accepted now as “mainstream” lighting products. IGuzzini’s Laser Blade has found many a following in various configurations and also RCL’s remote controlled lighting now have a steady number of followers with Forma lighting ( their Motolux series) probably leading the pack. Soora, with the eminent presence of Nobel Laureate Mr Nakamura on the stand (who kindly signed his book for me, and got mine in return J) launched their violet based LED lights. Having won the Nobel prize for his invention of “blue based” LED technology, Soora is now moving on from blue to violet based LED, showing the limitations of blue LED’s. While the demonstration on the stand of Soora’s violet based lighting versus the rest (blue based) was visually convincing, it was not possible to verify the authenticity of the “others”. There is no doubt that the quality of retrofit lamps has increased. Osram, Philips, Megaman and others are still full swing at developing alternative LED technology for conventional lamps. There is surely still quite a big market for it and with “filament” based LED lights there are some new opportunities for the lighting designer.
Systems and components Viabizzuno, Prolicht and Xicato were typical examples of manufacturers thinking about lighting as a toolkit. Providing an array of lighting components and systems it allows the lighting designer to build his own design. I had an really enjoyable session with Mario Nani, Viabizzuno’s creative mind and also my session with Roger and Webster from Xicato was exciting and inspirational. As lighting designers we crave the tools to design uniquely tailored solutions and I think that these manufacturers understand that and are moving into a modular system and components direction that I find very attractive and exciting. Carl Devolder delighted me with Prolicht’s latest range of modular toolkit systems. I was happy to oblige him with one of my books 🙂
Linear In the linear field we saw many interesting developments, specifically in creating tailor made lengths (or surfaces) and the continuous in line seamless connections. Companies like LED –Linear and Cooledge showed off some really nice products all who can be made to measure according to need. Big improvements have been made by many of the manufacturers in regards to inline connections, flush and seamless in-ground mounting and the high demand applications like underwater and drive-over versions. Light-Tape remains an odd one out with their flexible sheet and wrap around lighting solution but their performance has certainly improved and the demand, though very niche, has remained steady over the years.
Performance Not surprisingly the lighting performance is still skyrocketing forward. Linear T5 equivalents with 150 lumens/watt and floodlights (300W) with more than 50,000 lumens output where on displays on many booths. It is fair to say that we are closing in on the stage where we can say that for any conventional lighting technology there is now a matching or better performing LED equivalent in terms of performance. It seems just yesterday that LED announced its breakthrough in white light and look where we are already today! Specifically in the outdoor field a great improvement in performance and lighting optics has been achieved.
Outdoor applications Besides greatly improved urban lighting concepts, many with smart or solar lighting integrated, the creative ability of the outdoor lights has also greatly expanded. Focusable spot lights, toolkit floodlights with a range of handy accessories and glare free interchangeable optics are just a few of the exciting new developments. Luce & Light’s ARKO system is a great example of that. Most of all the maintenance of IP rated light fixtures has been a point of development by several manufacturers. Sealing the main core light engine to desired IP rated levels has always been a challenge when beam adjustments and cable connections are still to be done on site. Now many of the manufacturers have come out with externally adjustable beams and aiming as well as “idiot-proof” connectors to assure the integrity of the IP rating is maintained through life! WEEF and Meyer had some fine examples.
Tuneable light and controls Under this heading I am capturing the enormous progress made in the field of lighting controls and the ability to tune and dim the light. Just because we can today, nearly all manufacturers have products that have tuneable white light, not just as an option but as a standard product. With colour temperatures ranging from 1800 to 6500K there are an array of possibilities now to tune the light to desired ambiences and that over time. Eldoled is one of the recognised leaders in driver technology and at L&B they showed the world why. Potential flicker has been one of the key issues on the “to be resolved” list and companies like Eldoled and Xicato have put in a lot of effort to make sure this is a problem of the past.
The future of lighting On the side lines of the fair there where a lot of talks and presentations, some on booths of leading manufacturers (Lamp, Xicato) and some in meeting rooms (IALD etc.). I personally attended Xicato’s “Future of lighting” which gave an interesting insight on where we are going. The future role of lighting with integrated functions such as far more sophisticated lighting controls, way finding, IoT, asset tracking and Light as a Service where all part of the presentation, set against the cost of lighting and its management. It is very much the end of light as we know it…very true!
Virtual Lighting Design Even the role of a lighting designer looks like being reduced to a mere operator of a computer program. I would dare to say that the progress in technology and the progress in internet virtually is also starting to ring the death bells for the actual manual skills and experience of a lighting designer. Virtual computer programs takes all the thinking out of the designer. Everything is visualised and design decisions made for you…where are the lighting designers who still do manual calculations or use a pen and paper to design lighting…all these programs are beautiful but there is no check and counter balance. If the computer is wrong (that it is possible!) or makes wrong “decisions” (the output is as good as the operators input!) the new generation of virtual designers will have no fall back for due diligence as they will only know how to operate the program of lighting app…We need to keep training our new generation of lighting designers in the actual art of design with all these beautiful aps and programs an aid or tool rather than the “bible” of lighting design!
KLD at L&B, Luminale. Finally some images of me and my great KLD team enjoying the L&B fair in Frankfurt this week, our factory visit and some mood imagery from Frankfurt, booth party impressions (Erco, Osram, IGuzzini) , the IGuzzini light experience and the Luminale. It was a pleasure to see all my good friends and colleagues during my visit and I hope to see you all soon somewhere on the planet! Take care and till then.
PS 1: this weeks blog turned out to be a monster report and even at the end I realise I missed out on many things, still…feel free to add in through comments and feedbacks!
PS 2: Next week there won’t be a blog as I am taking a week off to re-energise here in Europe.