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LIGHT + BUILDING / INTRODUCTION BUILDING L+IGHT


Pete Brewis introduces mondo*arc’s extensive round-up of product launches, technological developments and future trends on show at the industry’s biggest lighting exhibition.


As much as anything, a biennial trip to Light + Building always provides a good gauge for where the industry stands and in what direction it’s travelling. Two years ago the story was LEDs, LEDs, LEDs. Solid state had arrived and pretty much every manufacturer wanted it known that they were fully abreast of this fresh technologi- cal wave. Such a major shift in mindset had perhaps raised expectations that this year, too, would provide a similar gestalt shift, so some seemed surprised to find themselves once again peering through the develop- mental mist trying to make out the shape of things to come.


LEDs were of course the main message, but this time round the delivery was far more considered. Having debuted with such fanfare in 2010, manufacturers and fixture designers have spent the intervening years really getting to grips with how this technology can be properly utilised and as a result many of the advances seemed to lie beneath the surface. Palpable changes had occurred: the first Zhaga-approved modules were launched and some neat heat-sinking solutions revealed. Among the most interesting developmental frontiers was the move towards tunable white LED lighting. Colour temperature options have advanced rapidly over recent years, but the ability for a single fixture


to adapt perfectly to a particular scenario – or perhaps even change over the course of the day – seems to open the door to a new dynamic, flexible system of illuminating our living and working environments, one that is more attuned to our experience of natural daylighting. Though various ways of achiev- ing this were proposed, all shared a similar goal – to enable lighting that adapted more readily to the needs of the end user. Perhaps most surprising was the abundance of OLED on show. Whereas just a few years ago a single square panel might have been displayed like a rare slice of meteor rock, this year saw them popping up everywhere – often flocking overhead in mesmeric chandelier displays. Such was their popu- larity that even our formerly sceptical LED guru Geoff Archenhold is starting to suspect they may be with us sooner than initially thought. Geoff was in Franfurt to cast his eye over the many other technical advances on offer – you can read his full review on page 102.


And what of the fixtures themselves? As product designer Neil Poutlon suggests in this issue (profile, page142) many fixture manufacturers have leapt on LED’s compact size to offer solutions that blend into walls and ceilings or offer minimal physical pres- ence. Perhaps unsurprisingly from someone with a focus on producing products that


visually engage the user, he equates this minimalism to the dull functionality of HVAC design, but there are plenty of architects for whom less “clutter” is an attractive option. Poulton does make a valid point however, and the really interesting luminaires at the show were the result of a total re-evalu- ation of form, building products from the ground up, based around the flexibility of LED. Among these was Cree’s new Aero- blades street lighting, designed in partner- ship with Speirs + Major, reviewed by David Morgan on page 98. Perhaps coupled to this new flexibility was a desire for play, most notably a wave of new products incorporating some sort of mag- netic system to allow hands-on, mechani- cal interaction. We point you to a handful as part of our extensive product round-up (page 130).


There was, as ever, a lot to take in. Add into the mix the Design Plus awards, the Young Designers section and the Trendforum displays and there was scarcely time left to investigate the many other events - Lumi- nale, Nightseeing walks and Media Façade conferences - taking place outside the fairground. Hopefully the following pages will go some way to filling in any inevitable gaps.


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