illumni Global Report: LightFair 2012, Las Vegas by Anusha Muthusubramanian Integrated Lighting Design

As a curious designer, I fish for inspiration, striking ideas and innovation to help me look at my design ideas on a lateral plane and rethink the way I look at design problem solving. There are times when I feel that it would be better that product designers understood lighting designer’s aesthetic needs in the outlook of the product, size and mounting. But there are also products that are spring points of creativity for lighting designers.

Visits to the light fair were to understand the outlook of the developing technology of LED and its direction forward for the forthcoming year. Though it is not as big as Light+Building fair in Frankfurt, there were certainly some interesting products and technologies to look at. As a designer who is constantly in a learning mode I am trying to update myself with the lumen output method to decide on a specification for LED fixtures rather than the old wattage method which works on standard output in standardized conventional sources.

There are some ideas in LED products that have evolved for good from a designer’s standpoint. Reflector designs, small aperture sizes, better aiming options and better integration of architectural details are some of the improved features. After all the years of complaining about lack of standardization there is positive effort in the form of Zhaga Consortium, which would enable interchangeable LED modules. More learning awaits the specifiers and we can visualize a better organized direction for LED growing up to a well-established source of light. There are however a few questions only time and experience can answer.

Here are my observations from scouting for new products and trends.

Philips had an excellent stand that was informative and innovative. Demo of different Luxeon modules with cross referenced data sheets on the iPad.

There was an OLED product display in the Philips booth called Living Shapes Interactive Mirror that tracks a person’s movement in front and changes the lit up modules accordingly.

Philips is trying to develop a prototype module by making lesser number of LED modules giving more light output. About 12 modules produce up to 10,000 lumens.

A surprising, yet amazing find was a manufacturer called Gigaterra. They are a Korean company. It was completely different from other products in terms of reflector design and concealing the source of light. You see a starry effect from clever use of the patented reflector design, but you cannot guess where the source is and how the effect is achieved.

Also, as a designer, I sometimes do not like seeing multiple LED sources visible in a fixture surface. Somehow deep recess and single source tucked in well with good reflector distributing quiet light is ever pleasing. But Gigaterra’s design is very intelligent with a beehive pattern of hexcell louver style outlook to the fixture. Yes! I love the fact that I don’t know where the light is coming from.

There is also use of prismatic reflectors that glow.

Decorative pendant designs are also done as a surprise package at Gigaterra.

In the Pure Lighting booth, the LED downlights had a color changing reflector cone in a deep recess fixture. It is an unconventional approach in a downlight. I see it as an application or translation of the same principle as in decorative fixtures.

Tech lighting had a well-designed LED line up both in recessed and surface mount versions. I was intrigued by the surface mount wall washer that is adjustable on both sides. It is sleek and does a very good job.

Tech lighting’s lineup of LED recessed down lights are also good with a complete family of downlights with matching adjustable accents and wall washers. The output was also impressive with varied wattage options.

Another manufacturer that I thought had a complete spectrum of LED recessed fixtures, with varied wattages and options, was USAI. They had an output comparison chart helping us understand with respect to conventional sources. They have wattage as high as 55 watts that can match up to output of 2 x 42 watts compact fluorescent.

Intense lighting and Juno lighting had a good range of LED fixtures in recessed versions.

Bruck lighting had a new linear LED pendant (Ledra Galaxz) that is said to have an integrated daylight harvesting system.

There are a few peculiar examples that set one thinking about the relevance of certain LED alternates.

There was a completely new manufacturer (or one that I am not familiar with), ETI lighting that had fluorescent mimic fixtures coming up in LED!  One could never guess by its appearance.

My concern with the fluorescent mimic fixture is one, premium to pay for the LED version is high and you are specifying a non-standard lamp. Yes, the energy point of view and lamp life may be considered but any day, Client would find it easier to buy a cheaper and anytime replaceable standard fluorescent fixture. I am still not convinced!

Continuous linear fixtures were in vogue in the last few years and experimentation along with product development was seen using different sources. Though I don’t see any further new aspects, I am glad that they are not forgotten. I am still fascinated by continuous linear strips even though they are concepts that were exhibited previously. Is it because of its sleek, quiet and contemporary outlook? I think so.

Here is Pinnacle lighting’s exhibit where seamless linear extrusions created both inward portals and outward portals

Here are another two different yet familiarly good versions of linear fixtures. Intra lighting (left ) and Pure lighting (right)

Good old Fluorescent! It never loses its charm as Dan Flavin’s inspiration – Bartco lighting.

Hess lighting does get a special mention in better integrating LED sources into the poles that were aesthetically good and did not look like an LED board stuck underneath the head of a pole.

Anusha Muthusubramanian
Lighting Designer
Integrated Lighting Design

B.Arch. – National Institute of Technology Trichirappalli, India
MA – Architectural lighting design  – University of Wismar, Germany
Design Member, Professional Lighting Designers Association PLDA
Associate Member, International Association of Lighting Designers IALD

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