The week that was 3-6th May 2016
Singapore, Weekend 7-8 May 2016
My work week started on Tuesday which also happened to be my birthday. Thanks to everyone who took the time to write me a personal message or sent me good wishes, much appreciated! Since my passport is at one of the embassies for a visa renewal I was contained in my office this week, great time to catch up on projects and get some actual design done myself! In terms of project activities it was relatively quiet due to May Day holidays being celebrated in many parts of Asia Pacific. I had a bit of time to read up on non-project related emails which brought my mind to the topic of lighting magazines, awards and events. Having returned from the Lux Live event in Abu Dhabi recently I realised how much we the marketing side of lighting has progressed. Practically every country nowadays has a magazine dedicated to lighting, lighting design awards are happening all over the world and lighting fairs and events are crowding the agenda. While not that long ago you could easily manage and keep up with it, today there seems to be a fierce battle for our attention and participation. I for one, can’t keep up with it to a level I am becoming nearly uninterested…too much!
We have always had hard copy magazine’s like the Professional Lighting Design, Mondo Arc, Lux, Lighting Today, LD+A, Lighting, A-Lighting…and the list goes on. Nearly every country seems to have one and some are published world-wide. I receive many of them, some are monthly, some are quarterly. I have been a columnist in Lighting Today magazine since 2003 and over the years have written articles or had my projects showcased in many of them. In view of the onslaught of social media you would think that the hard copy magazines would slowly dwindle, but is seems the opposite is true. That, mixed with the ever increasing number of electronic magazines, today provides for an avalanche of reading. The hard copy magazines have also find their way in internet land, with many new players from lighting associations, manufacturers and media companies now crowding the airwaves. Add to that all the chat groups, social media postings, tweets and the blogs (yes I am contributing to this, I know) and you have such a massive amount of information coming to you daily that it would be a full time job to keep up with it. It is no surprise that much of this ends up in the electronic bin or just as decoration on the coffee table…my desk is bulging from the (mostly unread) magazines…
Somehow in parallel we have seen an explosive growth in lighting award competitions, mostly driven by magazines, associations and manufacturers. We used to have only a handful elite lighting design awards such as the IALD and the IES awards, now there are so many in so many parts of the world that it becomes nearly a minefield to sort out which one would apply to you or your project or not. In the recent Lux Live Lighting Design Awards in Abu Dhabi I discover to my dismay that most lighting design awards were won by manufacturers /suppliers! Was that because they so heavily sponsor these events? I would have thought (and hoped) that lighting design awards should be predominantly to promote the professional and independent lighting designers, but perhaps I live in dreamland. One of the key conditions of becoming a professional member of a lighting design association is to be independent and earn your income solely form lighting design fees…Yes there are big multi-disciplinary companies (architects, interior designers, M&E consultants and the like who have a lighting design department to support them in turnkey projects, but competing with the independent professionals I feel is not a level playing field, let alone if we start including the manufacturers participating in design competitions. No issue with them participating but it should be in the category of “best lighting design by an architectural practice or manufacturer”! Then there is the fact of who is judging the entries and whether the judges can actually personally visit the short listed project. Too often I have the feeling that judgement at times is guided by commercial or personal relationships between the judges and the nominees. I have attended many award ceremonies even have had the honour of being a judge on a few, but very often I am flabbergasted about the judging and the award decision…I just can’t escape the feeling that award competitions have become a commercial tool by the organisers exploiting the hunger for recognition by established and young and upcoming lighting design practices. I participate from time to time, have won several awards over the years, have been ignored several times only to be shocked to see who finally won…I guess the absent are always wrong, so I better start sending in some…but I do it without much enthusiasm…J
The final category are the events, the light fairs, the conventions, the seminars and now also the internet based webinars. Fresh from Lux Live Abu Dhabi, which run nearly parallel to the spring edition of the Hong Kong Light Fair, hot on the heels of Light & Build the month before and PLDC in Rome late last year. As I write this blog The Light Fair in San Diego has just ended. Ahead (in the coming months in this region alone) are the Guangzhou Light fair, The Low Carbon Energy Summit in Korea, the Shanghai Light Fair, the Bangkok Light Fair, LED+Light Asia in Singapore and the autumn edition of the Hong Kong Light Fair just to name a few. These are just the manufacturer driven events. Next to that are the numerous lighting seminars, design events and other who all have some form of lighting and lighting design involved. I have often spoken at interior design, architectural or energy forums that embrace lighting design as an important and key element of overall good design. Some of these “conventions” and “summits” however, are actually organised by commercial cowboys jumping on the popular LED trend. I have accepted speaking at one of them in the past out of curiosity and part ignorance, but the moment that you have to pay your way (!) to deliver a talk alarm bells should be ringing as established and respected designers should be paid to share their expertise. While I do not always get speaker fees, I certainly need to get my transportation, accommodation and out of pocket expenses paid. On the other side of the medallion are the manufacturers who are continuously bombarded by requests for sponsorship. In an interesting side note, the high costs of participating in major events as L&B have pushed some manufacturers to different strategies. Rather then paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a booth at such event, they organise targeted events on the fringes inviting key specifiers and clients, a classic hot missile approach. The costs may end up the same but the ROI should be many times higher because of the personal and one on one approach…
Interesting developments and food for thoughts, feel free to share yours with me…
Have a great weekend.