Lighting Designer’s Perspective
By Mark Godfrey
Lightfair is one of those rare opportunities for people from all aspects of the lighting industry to see thousands of new products and technologies all at the same time. If you attended in this year, hopefully you took some notes along the way. I certainly did. In particular I was on the hunt for products, concepts, and applications that step outside of the confines of existing expectations by embracing the scale, digital architecture and controllability of solid state lighting. The following three lighting solutions present a unique approach to very different questions about what lighting is supposed to be.
JLC Tech’s T-Bar SmartLight (http://www.tbarledsmartlight.com/) removes troffers and downlights entirely from the vocabulary of interior lighting with their 1-inch wide luminaires, integrated directly into the ceiling grid structure. This idea merges lighting with existing infrastructure with the goal of minimizing the appearance of lighting, reducing resource consumption and increasing the cool factor in a conventional office environment. These are all admirable goals in a well-executed design.
SmartLight nicely introduce a new lighting (and building systems) power distribution concept promoted by the EMerge Alliance and its partners. (http://www.emergealliance.org/Home.aspx) Every luminaire used in commercial interior spaces today includes some sort of transformer, ballast or driver which converts either 120 volts or 277 volts into an appropriate power signal for the lamp in question. EMerge Alliance proposes to make the power conversion once with a central power supply for many luminaires in a given room rather than converting line voltage at each luminaire. This is particularly appropriate for solid state lighting due to the simple 24v DC used by many LED chips and boards today.
Organic LED technology, still in its infancy, is another form of solid state lighting that is poised to change the way illumination is delivered in buildings and homes. Philips and Jason Bruges Studio have provided us with a stunning combination of artistry and technology proving that design and creative teamwork can deliver something extraordinary: http://www.jasonbruges.com/projects/uk-projects/reveal-aston-martin and http://www.lighting.philips.com/main/led/oled/index.wpd
Jason and his team have transcended the technical application of a lighting product and have created an emotional experience with light and technology. The key to this is the viewer does not experience LED technology. The viewer simply has an experience.
These three lighting products, concepts and applications clearly illustrate the cutting edge of lighting technology. But we all know that day-to-day applications require basic lighting tools. Lightfair 2013 has introduced many new products for use in day-to-day project work. The quality of new product varies dramatically and has reinforced rule number one in lighting design: If you like a new LED product, get a sample and do a mock up. LED technology is very new. The designer needs to make sure the product works for the application, including switching or dimming functions, glare, contrast, flicker, and color.
Mark Godfrey is a Senior Lighting Designer at INTERFACE ENGINEERING. He can be reached at 503-382-2266.
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