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Lighting Commentary

BDNY, ICFF, LightFair, KBIS, IBS and the Evolving Trade Show World

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The first time I attended BDNY I found it a waste of time. It was small and there was very little of value to draw me back. I never went again. Jump ahead to a post-pandemic world and one of my favorite shows, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) combined with BDNY in 2021 to put on a better-than-expected presentation. The subsequent solo ICFF, earlier this year, was a bit of a letdown which led me to wonder if BDNY had become a more valuable asset. I decided to attend the solo BDNY and while not as powerful as the combined 2021 effort, it was worth the trip.

A similar thing occurred at the first LightFair I attended. A few years later, Energy Efficiency and LED jumped into the public conscience and the industry enjoyed a decade of relevant, informative and engaging shows. Now, with LED aging into “old news” the value of the show is shrinking.

My first KBIS was a revelation. I learned so much and experienced so many things, I could not wait for the next year. Unfortunately, the value has been reduced every year since. Whole categories of goods disappeared, major manufacturers dropped out and new products and ideas were eliminated for fear of being “knocked-off” by budget-priced competitors and trolling attendees with newfangled phone-cameras.

By contrast, the European shows have somehow been able to maintain their value. Shows are bigger and longer, spaces are not a collection of boilerplate “popup” displays that all look the same. New ideas have been shown consistently and the staff has remained at a high professional level (Suits and dresses [remember them?] are worn, a very minimal amount of faces are buried in mobile phones.) They remain attend-worthy and younger professionals as well as old vets are very much present, unlike the boomer-centric shows of America.

This is the perfect time to toss the whole concept in the air and allow the pieces to land in a newly configured way. I am aware that many groups derive much of their financial base from the shows they sponsor and are reluctant to change. Change, nonetheless will be required, because attendance is and will continue to dwindle. As the great actor, Yaphet Kotto says in the 1975 movie, “Sharks’ Treasure,” “Fifty percent of nothin’ is nothing, man!” They can continue to own all of a shrinking extant, or less of a growing alternative.

As the world attempts to recapture two years of lost trade shows, some major rethinking must be undertaken. When the International Builder’s Show (IBS) combined with the Kitchen & Bath Show (KBIS) they bought themselves an additional decade of relevance. I’m sure, even they are starting to consider where they head now. Huge pockets of their relevant industries are still missing from the combination. Are there other shows that can be corralled to present an even bigger bang? LightFair is moving to a biennial schedule, similar to many major European shows. This should make it more of an “event” and grab a few more people. That might help for a few years. It is time for BDNY, ICFF and perhaps a handful of other smaller shows (the un-resurrected ADHDS, NY Now?) to coalesce and present a show that creative professionals can really use. Continuing to deliver halfhearted efforts will result in a continuation of attendees forgoing them completely.

I know I have written about the need for trade show change before. I have no “dog in this fight” other than twenty-five years of experience. For years, I was paid to attend these shows and relate the observations. As I see less and less to report, attendance becomes less and less important. It is harder and harder for me to recommend attendance. Deep down inside, I want them to be better with continued relevance. The vibe in a room filled with creative people cannot be replicated online. Even with poor results, I still feel somewhat more energized when I return to work.

Perhaps, we are destine to watch these shows melt. The deck is stacked. The internet, online catalogs, online visual influencers, a “stay-at-home” pandemic, work from home employment and a new generation of workers with slight face-to-face socialization skills may be too overwhelming for this old-school concept to survive. We baby-boomers have only a few years or relevance left. If that is the case, I wonder what is next. I suspect we’ll all need to stay tuned.

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Lighting Commentary

Sustainability Part 3 – How Am I Going to Make This Work?

Charles and Ray Eames, La Chaise

Imagine you are Ben Watson. The world of offices has changed and he sits atop the Herman Miller – Knoll merger. Will people return to an office? Will offices disappear completely? Can his company survive? What do you do? What products will be needed in this new world?

Watson holds a degree in visual and environmental studies from Harvard and spent years in product development and marketing for Knoll. His senior thesis explored La Chaise, the modern-classic chair with a white molded polyurethane seat and crossed wooden feet designed by Charles and Ray Eames. Like all designers, he is uniquely qualified to solve a problem he had not anticipated. It is in fact why we have designers. Designers solve problems that most people find confounding.

Like Watson and office furniture, lighting is now shifting. An increased desire for sustainability is leading to pushback of disposable luminaires. Renewables are overshadowing replacements. As a result, a complete rethinking of how we illuminate our spaces must now occur.

In the first part of this sustainability blog-triumvirate I indicated that fewer decorative lighting products would be employed in the future. In part two, I talked about the ways in which the industry must step up to meet the needs of the new sustainable consumer. Figuring out how to put it all together in a way that is aesthetically pleasing now falls to the designer.

When to Feature Decorative Lighting

If we are going to use less decorative lighting and most of the decorative lighting on the market will deliver fewer lumens, not because of the substandard capabilities of LED, but because of the forms in which the LED is placed, then we must choose wisely. A five light chandelier equipped with five, 60 watt incandescent light bulbs delivered about 4000 lumens of light. Because the diffusers were large enough to cover a medium-based lamp, almost all of that light was usable. 4000 lumens of light was plenty for most dining rooms, dinettes and bedrooms. While many of the newer LED luminaires might promise 4000 lumens, it may be delivered in a slightly different way. It might be more directional, it might be concentrated in an oblique pattern or, it may obscured or simply used as an aesthetic element rather than a functional lighting machine. To make this work, the designer must be more comfortable with the overall lumen demands of a room or space.

With that in mind, the functional lighting must deliver almost all of the needed light in the space. Any illumination provided by the decorative product will likely be icing.

There are guidelines that help us determine optimal light levels for every room in a residence. There are also easy ways to use this information. Below is a chart that provides optimal light levels for each space.

Area / TaskDesired Illuminance Level in Footcandles (Fc)
Hallway/Passageway5-10
Conversation Area / Entertaining5-20
Dining10-20
Reading (General)20-50
Bathroom / Grooming20-50
Laundry / Ironing20-50
Kitchen (General)20-50
Kitchen (Work Areas)50-100
Reading (difficult) Study / Hobby / Music50-100
Hand Sewing / Detail Hobby100-200

To use this information, simple calculate the room or space area (Length multiplied by width) and multiply it by the desired footcandle level. The result will provide the needed lumens.

Length x width x footcandle = minimum Lumens needed for the room

Let’s assume we have a 12’-0” x 12’-0” dining room. 12 x 12 = 144 x 10 = 1440. 12 x 12 x 20 = 2880. That means the minimum amount of light should produce between 1440 and 2880 lumens.

When you think about that 5-light chandelier at 4000 lumens, or even a classic Williamsburg-type 10-light chandelier with candelabra lamps (280 lumens x 10 = 2800 total lumens.) incandescent provided very usable amounts of light for a dining room. We now need to think about it, just a bit more.

A New Way Forward

Let’s put the chandelier on the back-burner initially. The important thing to understand is decorative lighting will not and likely cannot provide all of the needed light. It should represent a declining percentage of the total demand for a sustainable future. How might that be delivered? Consider this.

Recessed cans around the perimeter might be a starting point. On a smaller room like this, think about one in each corner. Using a typical LED version, 650 lumens each will be provided. Now, consider an illuminated tray, or perhaps cove lighting. Somewhere between 48 linear feet of LED Tape (cove,) or as little as 32 linear feet (tray.) There are many LED Tape options. I’ll use an average of 200 lumens per foot. That will deliver between 6400 (tray) and 9600 (cove) lumens. Keep in mind, this is indirect light, so that might seem high, but will be very usable and acceptable. With the corner lights and tray lighting, the needed amount is met. These are sustainable choices and will have no impact on the style choice of the room, modern or tradition or anything in-between.

Decorative lighting can now be added. The amount of light provided will be unimportant. These then become aesthetic choices. Include them, or don’t. They will add light, but will not bear the bulk of the illuminance burden.

Now, simply repeat this with the other lighting in the other areas of the house.

LED lighting is different light, but it has also allowed designers and engineers to create more interesting and better luminaires. That means as design practitioners, we will need to take a few added steps to insure quality lighting is delivered in the space. As more sustainable environments are demanded, this added step will be needed.

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Lighting Commentary

Sustainability Part 2 – Can Lighting Be Sustainable?

Photo by Jordan Hyde on Pexels.com

If like me, you always check out trend predictions, wherever and from whomever they emerge, you are seeing a reoccurring mention of sustainable products. I am constantly questioned about sustainability. Designers are hearing the request and like a canary in a coalmine, they are often the first to recognize a shift. As I pointed out in the first part of this series [link] there will be changes in our application of light. Nonetheless, the disposable nature of a heretofore endlessly reusable luminaire, continues to trouble designers, users and sustainability proponents. “There has to be a better way!” is a very common comment.

I realized this is not a problem exclusive to lighting as I read about Golden Goose, a Milan-based manufacturer of high-end casual footwear. [The New York Times (August 7, 2022) “Don’t Toss Those Old Sneakers” by Laura Rysman. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/09/style/golden-goose-sneaker-repair.html?smid=url-share ] Like lighting, once a pair of sneakers is “worn out” they are unceremoniously tossed and replaced. In an effort to extend the life of the sneaker, they are offering bespoke repairs. The problem, as few as five years ago, is that there was no such thing as sneaker repair. Because of the typical manufacturing process, the sole could not be removed from the top, so an entirely different methodology was required. By considering the classic construction method of formal shoes, a new sneaker assembly process was created that allows for the teardown and repair. While not inexpensive, their sneakers can now be repaired and reused, almost endlessly.

LED longevity makes them the perfect light source for new sustainability demand, but they sit on the edge of some shaky foundations, much like the typical vulcanized rubber sole that encases a sneaker top and precluded disassembly. We discussed aesthetic trends in the previous post. There are three additional problems that must be addressed to increase the sustainability of LED lighting.

Driver Longevity

When a LED luminaire fails, it is most likely because of driver malfunction or some sort of circuit interruption. In the industry’s quest to achieve lower costs, corners have been cut in this all-important, albeit hidden, component. Quite simply, to have a more sustainable product, better built drivers and circuitry components are required.

Proof of Longevity

LED longevity is a predicted “guess” based on calculated performance characteristics. Basically, if the system lasts for X hours, testers feel comfortable projecting that it will last 6X hours. Tests of 10,000 hours (maximum) will allow a manufacture to promise the product will last 60,000 hours. One of the reasons we cannot go much farther is because 10,000 hours is a long time! After 14 months of testing, there is a very good likelihood that a newer, better model of LED is on the market and the cycle must be started anew. Most manufactures test for 6000 hours, allowing a promise of 36,000 hour lifespan and consuming only 8 ½ months of time, still a considerable length. Some sort of accelerated testing and performance affirmation is needed.

Repair

Incandescent luminaires are like a pair of leather brogues, we can change light bulbs as easily as shoelaces. Resoling is however another thing entirely and must be completed by a cobbler. A repair professional is usually needed to replace sockets or broken chandelier arms. LED lighting becomes closer to the conventional sneaker, nearly impossible to rebuild, even by a pro, unless you rethink the entire process. That, I believe is where the luminaire manufactures are today. To meet the sustainability expectations of the near future, they must plot out a path to luminaire repair.

This might be realized in a number of different ways. Perhaps some companies can easily adapt their business to include a repair service. We might also see LED luminaire repair shops popping up around the country. We could also see lighting retailers adding LED repairs to their list of luminaire services. Only real demand will tell the tale.

“It’s Gotta Be the Shoes!”*

To meet the needs of a sustainable future, electronic repairs will need to be more common. We might see the return of TV repairmen, small appliance repairs and people who specialize in fixing our much more technological environment.

By their own admission, Golden Goose is not seeing a positive ROI on repairs. Knowing repairs are possible is however, turning out to be a substantial selling point for this expensive footwear. I think that might turn out to be the case with lighting, too. The lighting will last longer than most people expected. There will be fewer breakdowns than anticipated. The newness of LED will wear-off and failure expectations will be reduced because it is an effortless product. When needed, there will be some avenues available for resolution, even if they are not ultimately used. That may satiate the consumer.

In a 1988 Nike commercial, Mars Blackmon (a comedic avatar of Spike Lee) tried to explain the god-like moves of Michael Jordan on a basketball court. Discounting every other conceivable option, he reached the conclusion, “It’s gotta be the shoes!” despite the objections of Mr. Jordan. (If you’re not a basketball fan, Michael Jordan was an excellent player, probably even in bare feet.) Offering repairs when they might be of minimal real value, just might be the sustainable aspect we’ve convinced ourselves we need, just like the illusion worked for Mars.

*Mars Blackmon – 1988 Nike commercial with Michael Jordan and Spike Lee

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Lighting Commentary

Sustainability Part 1 – More Utilitarian, Less Decorative – The Future of Lighting

2009 SAAB 9-3 Convertible – The original sustainable vehicle?

I drive a 2009 SAAB 9-3 Convertible. This is, without question the best car I have ever owned and despite its age, still looks great. I purchased this car a few months prior to SAAB exiting the automobile business. I never owned a SAAB prior, but I quickly found out that there is a joyful cult surrounding current and former SAAB owners. When the closure of the manufacturer was announced, fellow SAAB owners would pull up next to me, open their window and ask, “What are we going to do?” I learned that many SAAB owners were SAAB owners for life. Like me, they liked the solid, dependable build and the quirky stylings that made the design impervious to trends, fads and the constant waves of the “next best thing.”

For the last few years, I have been predicting a lighting “future world” where fewer decorative lighting products are used and more (much more) functional lighting products will be installed in residential spaces. We will still have centerpiece items featured in dining rooms, over multiple areas in the kitchen and foyers, but the rest of the home will see lighting hidden in, over, behind, inside and below architectural elements in the room. Like recessed cans, lighting will be indirect, easy to use and impervious to the stylistic shifts that are inevitable in the home furnishings industry. Product that forgoes style fads, like my SAAB will maintain relevance farther into the future than flash-in-the-pan ideas.

Why is This Occurring?

Because of the rapid adoption of LED technology, a couple of things have occurred. First, the LED diode is small. Very small. This has allowed for the development of tiny functional light. LED Tape has, in just a few years, become a ubiquitous method of lighting. It is filling trays, coves, toekicks, cabinets and over-cabinet areas. It is very fairly priced, has proven to last for a long time and the lumen output options are many. Versions of LED Tape are also finding their way into integrated luminaires. Designers are taking advantage of the tiny size and reimagining decorative lighting.

LED diodes are expected to last between 40,000 to 50,000 hours. Operating six hours a day, that calculates to somewhere between 18 and 24 years! When the average luminaire is replaced every 7-10 years, it is easy to see that the viability is not matching demand. We can and will use functional products longer, because they have no impact on aesthetics. They will last over three or four home remodels before replacement is needed.

Sustainability is of growing concern to the consumer. It is more important right now to the younger buyer, but those customers will be around for many more years and their peak spending years on home furnishings are starting now and will rise as we move into the future. As this group mature and younger people age into home ownership, it is predicted their demand for sustainability will NOT disappear. Products removed and replaced long before their end of life will not jell with a sustainably conscious consumer. Knowing that 75% to 90% of the lighting could last longer and perhaps only one or two luminaires would need to be replaced due to a dated appearance, will be much more palatable. These new realities will change how designers interact with customers and together how they interact with lighting.

Meanwhile, Back On the Road

A constant question or comment shouted from other drivers to me centers around longevity.

“How many miles does your car have?”

“What year is that?”

“I drove my [fill in the year and/or model of their SAAB] for [fill-in a HUGE quantity of miles]

SAAB owners know that timeless design allows them to ignore trends. They will receive the benefit of great performance and extended years of use because the engineering is solid. LED is earning the same reputation. Early on, people worried about what would happen when the LED “burned out.” They are finding that it just doesn’t happen that often. My “ALL LED” kitchen has been humming along for fourteenth year with nary a problem. It is not an anomaly.

To fully take advantage of this longevity, a shift is occurring. More indirect light, more functional light. More utilitarian light. A greater reliance on recessed lighting. Fewer decorative pieces. This change makes sense for the room, the ecologically sensitive consumer and perhaps more importantly, the planet. As designers, we need to make this work aesthetically. Trust me. That is the easy part. Reducing landfill. That’s the tough one.

143,130 miles…and counting.

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Lighting Commentary

Another Voice on Good Lighting

Photo by Barnabas Davoti on Pexels.com

I have been talking about the relationship between light and health for a decade. It was probably a lecture at a distant LightFair that set my curiosity running. I started seeking out articles, research reports and other documentation to fill in my information gap. While not a doctor, I eventually developed a continually-evolving lecture on the topic. New information arrives. Science discovers more nuance to its initial findings. Better studies are conducted. More concise data is shared and made available. Ten years (perhaps more) since I sat in a cold conference room at a LightFair convention, science is still not ready to make definitive decrees about rock-solid solutions, but as many posts have indicated, the mounting evidence supports better lighting leads to healthier people.

I thought of my message and my journey and the stones in the road as I read an amazing article in The New York Times Magazine. (July 10, 2022) “The Time of Your Life” (also entitled, “The Quest by Circadian Medicine to Make the Most of Our Body Clocks”) by Kim Tingley. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/06/magazine/circadian-medicine.html?searchResultPosition=1 Initially, I felt this was a very easy to understand description of the internal “clocks” that help our body function. If for no other reason, I suggest reading this article. The author goes a bit deeper than I do, but it still is easy to comprehend.

Farther into the article, we are introduced to a doctor who is attempting to change the medical community because of this unearthed information. The cycles in out body create peaks and low periods over the 24 hour day. For example, we typically have the highest blood pressure at 6:30PM and the lowest blood pressure right before a huge jump at 6:30AM. Our body is warmest at 7:00PM and coolest at 4:30AM. We are most alert at 10:00AM and have the best coordination at 2:30PM. These and other swings are very predictable and they impact about half of the roughly 20,000 genes we have in our body.

Early in the scientific discovery process, this doctor found that medication, when taken in sync with specific aspects of the systemic oscillation delivered optimal results. The drugs were more effective and more impactful when compared with administration at any other time of the day. By simply altering the specific time medication is brought into our bodies, we could enjoy better, perhaps optimal results!

You’d think the medical community would leap onto these findings. Better results with virtually no downside? Even if, after five years of added study, they determined that timing was not the thing that accelerated performance, there is no downside. The patient is still taking the same medicine and the results are the same results. It should have been a win-win. Yet he met with a less than receptive medical community.

I feel his pain. I talk about lighting and have talked about lighting for almost 20 years. I’m not alone. There are many lighting professionals who are trying to help people move toward better lighting. Initially, the goal was better functioning spaces and now, an effort to increase healthy results. Some larger corporations have embraced the idea, but the concept has largely been ignored, even at health care facilities. Because good lighting is “different” than the lighting currently used and because the timing of drug intake is “different” than normal medication distribution, change is a bit like Lloyd Bridges’ command to turn an aircraft carrier around to pick up his blown-off hat in the movie “Hot Shots!,” possible, but unlikely…and very difficult.

In the future, we will be using light that is more sensitive to the circadian (and other) cycles in our body and hospitals and prescription instructions will time the intake of drugs to coincide with the optimal cycle movement. In-hospital med-pass efficiency will likely take a back seat. The reason is the preponderance of evidence. Healthy lighting will probably be more complicated. Some will acquiesce and others will treat it like smoking warnings and COVID immunization shots. The majority will heed the advice, but a percentage will ignore their doctor and lighting pros. You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

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Lighting Commentary

More Windows, Better Light, Happier Employees

Google’s New Offices at St. John’s Terminal

A March 2022, The New Yorker article discussed the new Google headquarters in the former St. John’s Terminal building on West Street in lower Manhattan. Nicknamed a “groundscaper,” the architects responsible are defining this as the office space of the future. The concept of horizontal movement as compared with vertical in a city like New York is different, if not controversial. With limited land, up is often the only way to move. If, however, you are Google, money is not the key metric. Employee retention and good, healthy office space is more important. With those parameters, a space can be created with wide stairs for impromptu meeting and “villages” of workers, within close proximity to outdoor, wraparound terraces.

From the perspective of lighting, the walls are all glass. As I have mentioned in a number of past posts, there is growing scientific advantages of better lighting and daylighting in particular. New ideas, such as this one typically start with newer, vibrant companies and often, never get much farther down to where “the rest of us” work. (Raise your hand if your company has a fully-stocked cereal bar next to the coffee pot… Seeing no hands, I’ll continue.)

Things could change now. (Emphasis on “could.”) With more people working from home, a healthy, light-filled office might be just the enticement needed to bring people into a cooperative environment again. A full dose of light will make the work go well and prepare the worker for a great night’s sleep. If return to the office becomes an upcoming corporate desire, good light might be part of the enticement found in new office spaces. Dare I hope for better lighting?

Most office lighting is bad. I used to annually visit the editorial staff and writers of shelter magazines scattered all over Manhattan. While the Hearst Tower, the first LEED Gold building in New York, is efficient, well-lit and beautifully, it is an anomaly. Most of the publications occupy offices tucked into old buildings with poor lighting and even worse placement. I was once talking with an editor about energy efficiency under 20 year old magnetic ballast troffers that hadn’t been cleaned in 19. When I pointed out the dichotomy, the staff brushed off the thought and turned it back into reality. “The lighting is controlled by the landlord and they have no incentive to make things better. We pay the electric costs. They don’t care.”

Could this reality change? Will commercial building space be more plentiful? Will landlords compete for tenants? Could improved lighting turn into an enticement?

Perhaps this is just a lighting guy fantasizing over what might be. Finally, all of my speeches, interviews and public comments worked! Unlikely. Something else, this time, tenant and employee retention and acquisition, not Jeff, might actually be the thing that turns the tide. Sorry Jeff…but do keep trying!

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Lighting Commentary

Observations on LightFair 2022

While I did attend some extremely informative education sessions this year and the information I took with me will be helpful, my overall experience at LightFair 2022 was lukewarm. Part of the reason was the limited quantity of exhibitors, part was the physical space and the last part was a simple lack of enthusiasm.

Education

I attended educational sessions covering Turtle Protection Lighting, Visual Complexity, Resilient Lighting, Built Environment Lighting, Sustainability, Custom Luminaires, Replicating GUV lighting with existing software packages and the dynamic lighting effects available with the use of DMX512. My challenge now is to sieve through the data and determine how that will realize itself in residential lighting. Look for future posts on these topics.

Products

Only a few things on the show floor piqued my interest. Here’s a quick rundown.

The Glint Lighting Hero track-head is different than most. The head stays in place and direction of light is regulated with the use of a small “joystick” that can be fixed, once placement has been established. This is great for two reasons. Visually, you don’t have competing heads bent in varied directions along a ceiling. Secondly, the light will stay where the designer wants it. Once fixed, errant lights, loosened joints and drooping cans are a thing of the past. This is a nice simple solution.

LightFair 2022 – Glint – Fixed track head with fully adjustable direction via internal mechanics.

https://www.glintlighting.com/products/hero-track

Beelite, a company I have only know as providing ammonia resistant poultry lighting, showed a cute little collection of rechargeable patio lights. Nothing on their website as yet, but keep an eye out for these!

https://www.beelitebulb.com/

I know there have been a lot of variations on the theme of flexible LED filled tubing, but the Tivoli Flexile could be a nice addition to a space. To prove my point, right down the aisle was LumoTubo with very much the same thing. This proves again how much LED has changed our approach to lighting.

LightFair 2022 – Tivoli – Flexible tube lighting
LightFair 2022 – LumoTubo – flexible tube lighting

Have I missed the Modern Forms Juliet sconce, or is it new? Never mind. It is a stunner!

LightFair 2022 – Modern Forms – Juliet sconce

https://www.modernforms.com/

Within their architectural systems category, Wagner Architectural Products includes Lumenrail, lighting solutions for railing. I was especially drawn to the lighted post, a dot of light tucked up inside a wrap, rather than on the rail portion. I thought this was a nice idea.

LightFair 2022 – Wagner Architectural Products lighted post cuff.

I was reminded of this product while talking to a friend on the show floor. Concealite hides fire alarms and emergency lighting behind revolving panels. GUV lighting options are recently available. They also provide emergency “Exit” signs that disappear into the drywall for a much more aesthetically sensitive result. If you’re involved in a commercial buildings, this is a nice resource.

LightFair 2022 – Concealite – Fire alarm hidden within the joist space of a wall.

https://www.concealite.com/

Both Pure Edge and Klus showed customizable LED solutions using aluminum extrusions. The Pure Edge TruCirque allows for the creation of drywall deep circles from 3’-0” to 18’-0” in diameter. The LED Tape is applied to the edge(s) of the extrusion and a snap-in lens is then provided. Klus MIFOR70 invites custom designed curved form luminaires (within some pretty broad parameters) to be imagined. Both clearly indicate how LED is changing the concept of lighting and decorative luminaires.

https://www.pureedgelighting.com/pure/products/trucirque.php?bc=Products%7CRecessed%7CRecessed%20Curved

https://klusdesign.com/product/1973

The Show Floor

Try as I might, I could not seem to navigate my way effectively around the show floor. Aisles seemed to “dead-end” and booths were placed pell-mell around the floor. Right before I left, I figured I’d cruise once more around the show. Amazingly, I saw some things I had not noticed before. Trade shows often have a few aisles that do not conform to the “x-y” grid, but when the bulk of the show is like that, it becomes an issue.

To get inside the show, everyone was funneled through a single opening. That opening led everyone to a divider-protected “pen” with two, even smaller openings to enter and exit the show floor. I think Temple Grande designed this entrance, assuming we were all cattle in need of guidance, on our way to slaughter.

The Las Vegas Convention Center West Hall Building

As you might expect, the new hall is modern and pleasant. The three older halls have become dated and in need of a clean-up, so it was nice to be in a new space. Unfortunately, little thought was given to the visitors arriving at the hall.

The Monorail, simply the best way to get to the old halls now drops attendees over a mile away from the new hall doors. After exiting the Monorail, it travels directly alongside the new building. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have coordinated with the city and add a stop at the West Hall? Taking the SDX strip express bus would seem to be a perfect alternative, but unfortunately, the RTC has suspended that express service! The LVCC solution is, walk more, or….

The LVCC LOOP

Moving people is obviously an aspect that was overlooked in the planning of the convention center expansion. Sure, walking is an option. Exactly what every show attendee wants to do more! Why wasn’t a much more comprehensive and usable solution installed?

Instead of a bi-directional Monorail or tram, or even a loop system (not sure about the right-of-way across the street from the convention center) connecting the halls, the LVCC bought into Elan Musk’s boring system. This has resulted in the most cumbersome people moving concept I’ve ever experiences.

A tunnel has been bored between the South Hall and a plaza space between the North and Central Halls, then onto the new West Hall. Rather than installing a train, or tram to travel the underground route, individual Tesla cars are driving people, three at a time to their hall destination.

WHAT??

You read correctly. On the first day, I waited with two others for fifteen minutes for the next available chauffeured car at a poorly attended show!! What is going to happen at the Consumer Electronics Show with almost 200,000 attendees? Even worse, if you are arriving at the show early, as I did for the early morning education sessions, the LOOP is closed!

LightFair 2022 – Las Vegas Convention Center LOOP – Waiting for the next chauffer to arrive and take guest through the tube to the West Hall.

I actually think Musk has something in his bore technology. This, however is a laughable implementation with which he should be embarrassed to be associated.

LightFair Booths

Seriously people. We’re supposed to be lighting experts. That being said, why are so many booths glare bombs? I passed one booth with 10,000 lumens of light poking me in the eye. From beyond the blinding glare, a voice, “May I help you?” I couldn’t see if it was Mephistopheles or an exhibitor. In an effort to avoid permanent retinal damage, or eternal damnation, I ran away.

Check out these blinding examples of poor, uninviting light.

LightFair 2022 – GLARE! filled booth
LightFair 2022 – GLARE filled booth
LightFair 2022 – GLARE filled booth.

Now, look at this image. The booth was filled with light, but none of it was blinding. There was a crowd almost every time I passed. Good lighting means good business! It is time for exhibitors to do better!

LightFair – A pleasantly lit, glare-free booth. What a shocker!!

The Best Booth

RAB devoted two large floor areas to four blocks of ice suspended over acrylic buckets, there to collect the dripping water. Visitors did not know what to make of it, compelling them to interact with the RAB personnel on hand.

LightFair 2022 – RAB – The most meaningful booth in the show.

Each cube was marked with a QR Code that linked to a video on climate change. It was an effective message about RABs intended direction. In the 100° Las Vegas climate with just released news reports on dangerously low levels of water in the Colorado River and the Lake Mead and Lake Powell reservoirs, it reinforces the need for action.

The Funniest Point

LightFair 2022 – LVCC signage confusion – Photo taken while standing in front of room W228 after passing it twice!

A new hall. The first show many people have attended in two years. I’m standing in front of Room 228. Guess how many times I passed the room before checking in? Obviously, there are a few bugs that need to be cleaned up before the new West Hall is ready for prime time!

LightFair 2023

I might indicate here that things can only look up and LightFair 2023 in New York will be better. I’m not sure I believe that. I’ll go, but it could be my last if something doesn’t change. It had a good run. It might be time for retirement.

Categories
Lighting Commentary

Interesting Lighting I Saw In NYC/ICFF 2022

The pandemic has disrupted many things in our lives, trade shows being among the most noticeable, especially for older people like me. As I’ve indicated previously, I believe these shows have one foot on a roller skate and the other on a banana peel. COVID just oiled the surface. I think the way industry responds in 2023 will provide a good indication of whether they are down for the count. This, of course, depends on a virus-free 12-months. Additional variants of Mr. C and all bets are off.

Even though the 2021 version of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) was just six months ago, to hop back into their typical mid-May schedule, another edition just occurred. Because if lacked the BDNY “half” featured in the fall of 2021, the 2022 outing was smaller. There also appeared to be fewer people. The shops, showrooms and galleries of New York showed minimal change as well. Nonetheless, there were new things and items that forced notice. This post discusses just the lighting. A future post will talk about the “non-lighting” items of interest.

Tom Dixon

First, Tom Dixon taught us copper was ok, then he told us gold/brass is coming. He moved from simple shaped metal shades to blown glass orbs and now the blown glass has taken on a distorted, amorphous “melted” shape. The Melt shades are huge, or small and multiples are pulled into chandeliers. The exciting option this year is a polished, black nickel, or metallic black option that carries a subtle purple tint. An LED disc/module tucked up into the shade provides illumination.

https://www.tomdixon.net/en_us/melt-led-pendant-us-3-configurable.html

NYC – Tom Dixon 2022

Artemide

Artemide appears to have gotten the message from Tom Dixon and has produced Stellar Nebular, a collection of quasi-symmetrical, dichromatic clear glass pendants that appear simple, but alter in appearance and color as you move around them.

https://www.artemide.com/en/search?searchString=stellar+nebular

NYC – Artemide – Stellar Nebular – 2022

Arrival borrows similar amorphous shapes, but relegates them to a tripod frames. The skeletal outlines feature LED built into the rails. Table lamps, floor lamps and semi-flush ceiling units have been created. I love the extremely long semi-flush. This size is needed and should be more popular than it is currently. These are not yet available in the US and still a few weeks away in Europe, but I feel they will be worth the wait.

NYC – Artemide – Arrival – 2022

Foscarini

A fun additions to their line this year. Based on the monumental bust of Nefertiti, the Nile lamp diffuser resembles her head and crown, while the lamp base is shaped like her neck and shoulder.

NYC – Foscarini – Nile Lamp 2022

Juniper

In all of the ICFF show floor, I was most impressed with a new approach to track lighting. The Multiverse is an extremely thin track. Endcaps are available flat and rounded. They can transition from ceiling to wall mounting. The adjustable heads have a magnetic feature that allows them to be momentarily set in place, before a collar is then tightened into position. The track is paintable and available in a wide variety of finishes. This is a substantially more appealing track system and should be considered for a different answer to a common lighting solution.

https://juniper-design.com/multiverse-power-distribution-system/

ICFF 2022 – Juniper – Multiverse track system

Cuero

Perhaps not new or earthshattering, but the leather cone pendants from Cuero Design were beautiful. The variety of natural, vegetable dye finishes was also appealing. As we transition to more beige interiors, these colors and simple shapes will fit in nicely.

ICFF 2022 – Cuero Design leather pendant

Sharon Marston

You might have thought, fiber optics have had their day and it is time to move on to the next technological trend. Certainly, LED and laser lighting is more exciting. Sharon Marston has created a collection of ethereal, phantasy-based luminaires that when shown, collectively stopped the show traffic. Employing the thin fiber strands, tiny crystal figures and miniature glass diffusers, you were immediately relaxed and brought into a new plane of existence. These were beautiful pieces.

https://www.sharonmarston.com/

ICFF 2022 – Sharon Marston – Fiber optics and ethereal designs

Jamie Harris Studio

Jamie Harris is a Brooklyn glass blower and he has shown products at a number of New York venues over the years. The stacked discs pendants and ceiling units are appealing. They expand across large areas and the individual disc is smooth, polished and alive with color.

https://www.jamieharris.com/custom-lighting

ICFF 2022 – Jamie Harris – stacked plates of glass

Parachilna

This is an Australian company with a modern version of Moroccan lighting. The Ma-Rock is an all metal pendant collection, pierced to allow light movement. It is a dominant piece that will command a space, just like its classic predecessors.

ICFF 2022 – Parachilna – Ma-Rock pendant

The Gweilo collection takes acrylic panels and melts or distorts them into floor lamps whereby the LED edge lights the contorted shape. Despite the clear material, like their Ma-Rock brother, these would demand a central point in a room and cannot not be ignored.

https://www.parachilna.eu/

ICFF 2022 – Parachilna – Gweilo lamp

Katy Skelton

This Georgia based lighting designer has developed a line of simple, clean and unassuming products. They almost have a light, “trapeze” feel with a heightened sense of construction and a deep understanding of the way in which the units are connected to the building.

ICFF 2022 – Katy Skelton linear pendant

Tom Kirk Lighting

As with Katy Skelton, the simple quasi-teardrop shape of the Cintola collection appears unassuming, but with multiple colors and configurations, the core design element bubbles up into a useful luminaire baseline.

https://tomkirk.com/shop/collections/ceiling/

ICFF 2022 – Tom Kirk – Cintola collection

Talbot & Yoon

Their Loop Light is an easy concept with which to create unique and customizable wall art lighting. By piecing together bent segments of tube with a ball lampholder, an endless trail of lights and curves can be presented on a wall.

Some of the science of light is telling us we may need more light delivered from vertical surfaces. Adding that light via an artistic approach such as this will make the clinical necessity much more palatable.

http://www.talbotandyoon.com/

ICFF 2022 – Talbot & Yoon – Loop Light

Swadoh

In the United States, there is no more unique city than New Orleans, so it makes sense that Swadoh, the byproduct of a French designer who has relocated there, would be creating such unique lighting options. They have a very feminine feel made of papers, fabric, guilt accents and some conventional materials. Their different approach is worth a quick review of their website. They could be an interesting addition to many interiors.

https://www.swadoh.com/

ICFF 2022 – Swadoh – Lighting

Koncept

Koncept always shows a new idea that answers a current lighting problem. This year, Yurei is a shallow pendant shade realized in glass (teal tint, clear, copper-bronze and black smoke) and metal (white and black). The illumination comes from a disc of LED that sits against the inside top surface. I like the size of these pieces. They have not yet been released to the market, but if interested, Koncept will notify those who sign-up on their website.

https://www.koncept.com/yurei

ICFF 2022 – Koncept – Yurei

Trella

The new Benedict collection starts with two nested spheres that surround a glass globe. This module is then used in a couple of sizes and singularly, as a pendant and in multiples as a chandelier. Because they are handmade, many customizable options are available.

https://www.trellastudio.com/

ICFF 2022 – Trella – Benedict

Of the many new products created each year, it is sometimes difficult to get a grasp on them all. While I worry about the validity of shows like ICFF and even the retail establishments that are slowly dwindling in SOHO, lower Park Avenue and the Flatiron District, I still appreciate their existence. Speaking for people my age, I need these physical entities to exist a few more years. Younger folks, apparently, have found better, more efficient ways to track new goods. A transition is now in place. Until that is complete, I’ll continue to record trend shifts coming to me in the only way I understand.

Categories
Lighting Commentary

The Complex Lighting Supply Chain

Photo by Luis Yanez on Pexels.com

Since moving into her first home, my niece has undertaken a beautiful renovation of her charming house. Upon her request, I suggested some appropriate lighting fixtures months ago and recommended a local supplier who could help her. (We’re in different states.)

Jump ahead nine months. She sent photos of her completed bathroom renovation, with a “thank-you” included. It took a few minutes to register the fact I had anything, albeit minor to do with this fresh new space. I completely forgot because, unfortunately, she was caught up in this crazy “supply chain” mess that has remained a news story for almost one year.

Shortly thereafter, the New York Times published an article, “4 Bed, 3 Bath, No Garage Door: The Unlikely Woes Holding Up Home Building,” https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/15/upshot/homes-garage-door-shortage.html?referringSource=article  The article dug into the complicated reality of building a home in a global economy. While the story spotlighted garage doors, as I dug deeper I learned that lighting fixtures have an even more complex supply chain than the doors featured in the headline. They were in fact in first place! I guess, “4 Bed, 3 Bath, No Lighting” didn’t have the punch needed to grab readers!

Why Lighting?

Prior to retirement, I spent 35 of my 47 working years in the development of residential lighting fixtures. I had been responsible for the drawing, engineering and product management of hundreds (OK, I’m old, thousands!) of luminaires. While this supply chain information might come as a surprise to many, I’m not one of them. Over the years I spent weeks and months in factories all over Asia. When not in another country, each day, emails, faxes prior to that and telex message before that arrived on my desk, asking for answers to unexpected issues. Today it is supply chain, fifteen years ago it was plating in China. (At that time, due to newly installed EPA-like regulations.) Like Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, “…If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

Humans

If you have observed lighting for any period of time, you will likely note that there are tens of thousands of different designs in the market. With that massive quantity of products, it might not surprise you to know that many of the components have far less automation involved in the production than you might imagine. There is NO automation in the assembly of lighting. Each piece is hand-built. Sales quantities of even the best sellers do not warrant robotic or automated assembly. Because of this, lighting is desperately reliant on humans. When humans disappear from the equation there is slowdown.

While the numbers continue to mount, COVID has taken a massive toll on the human population. Laborers have been much more vulnerable to acquiring the disease and dying because of that contact. Add to that number, the amount of “baby-boomers” who decided, or were “invited” to retire early and you have a massive chunk of the functioning human supply chain simply out of the picture. These are numbers that cannot easily be rebuilt.

Chinese New Year

To most Americans, Chinese New Year (actually, the lunar new year) is a time to visit your favorite restaurant and perhaps watch a small dragon dance in their parking lot. For companies, it is a HUGE annual business interrupter. It is no exaggeration to state that the “entire” country shuts down, reconnects with family, relaxes and celebrates. If you have not seen the documentary film, “Last Train Home” you may not realize the magnitude of disruption the Lunar New Year has on factories. Somewhere between 10% and 25% of workers do not return to the company after the holiday. To prepare, American companies order and Chinese factories build extra inventory to cover a six to eight week interruption. When added to an already strained system, there is no other way to go, than down. Training a large, new quadrant of employees every spring, also slows the restart process.

Cheap, Please!

Americans, over the last twenty years have been on a toboggan ride to the bottom of price; the price on everything and anything. To provide customers the cheap they expect, manufacturers have had no choice but to run, pell-mell into Asia (next stop, Africa!) for inexpensive goods. What is the weak link in that shift? Everything must be boxed up and shipped, via container, in the hull of massive cargo ships. Ships have become the funnel, the weak link in the chain. Ships are also expensive and take long to build, so you just can’t go to “ocean-freighter.com” and order a new one. With a waning pandemic, a good economy and record-high employment, there is pent-up demand and plenty of money for everything. That “everything” must now pass through the funnel of a freight container.

USA Manufacturing

Making goods in America can surely help, IF customers will pay a bit more. When I started in the lighting world, around the time of the Coolidge administration, every lighting fixture was made in the US. Same with the components. Some glass was produced in Mexico. A lot of glass came from France, Spain and Greece, but the majority was manufactured in America. That was great until the largest manufacturer of US lighting glass experienced a devastating fire. The industry was decimated for almost two months. There wasn’t a container, or container of dollars that could help.

Et Al

Supply chain disruption can happen at any time and for a number of reasons. While I am intimately familiar with the problems of lighting, you can take the above factors, adjust and apply them to appliances, windows and garage doors to understand the reason why things are not now available when they are needed. Keep that in mind next time you watch the national news.

Categories
Lighting Commentary

Eyes, Light and Sometimes, Brain

Photo by Ilargian Faus on Pexels.com

In an episode of the “Revisionist History” podcast (“The Dog Will See You Now” Revisionist History, Season 6, Episode 10) host, Malcolm Gladwell dug into the fact that different species rely more heavily on one of the five primary senses. In the story he tells of the amazing success dogs have had detecting the presence of diseases and viruses in humans. This is primarily due to the superiority of the dog’s nose. A dog’s nose is hundreds, perhaps thousands of times more powerful than a human’s, so they can pick up the subtleties of scents that humans cannot even comprehend. Dogs can and do easily sniff out weapons in airports and have been proven to detect the presence of colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, COVID and hundreds of other disease. They are 99% accurate, far superior to human-created methodologies.

Humans, on the other hand, are sighted beings, hence, we rely primarily on our sight. Because of that, we develop medical tests that allow us to see evidence of the physiological problem. An x-ray is taken, a doctor reviews the x-ray and when an issue is seen, the diagnosis is established. Because of the narcissistic nature of humans, we assume dominance of our intelligence. Dogs are unfamiliar with egalitarian structures. They understand a trainer seeking out a particular smell. Their superior nose can easily provide that information. A pat on the head and a doggie-treat and they are on to the next exam.

Dogs don’t understand the excellence of their nose, it’s just their nose and sniffing is what dogs do. Humans could come to terms with the hierarchical relevance of their scents, but don’t. Our inability to prioritize the right light, in the correct location, at needed times of the day is within our grasp, but we ignore it.

It is time for humans to pay more attention to the needs of their dominant sense. We rely more heavily on sight, but we don’t act like it. We accept light glare knowingly, we contort our bodies into odd configuration to grab a touch more of the light that has been poorly positioned and we pay little attention to the color, despite our bodies needs and wants. We then complain, unable to connect cause and effect.

Dogs don’t ask for “more scents” they simply push their head out of the window when they are lucky enough to enter a car, knowing a rush of interesting, life-affirming smells will be coming their way. Humans are smarter than dogs, but we don’t necessarily act like it all the time. Especially, when it comes to lighting.