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Exploring technological innovations and sustainable practices at LiGHT22

The two-day lighting event witnessed a healthy attendance of presenters and visitors, as well as a series of engaging talks.

by Samta Nadeem, Almas SadiquePublished on : Feb 21, 2023

Artificial light, in the form of the incandescent light bulb, was initially designed to illuminate dark nights—to make streets safer and more navigable, as well as to help stretch the hour of work and leisure, initially restricted to daytime. Today, it has evolved to hold not only the features necessary for lighting up a space, but also the whims, fancies, and imaginations of those envisioning spectacular scenographies. Experiments in this realm have resulted in the development of an array of light designs, which when configured differently, can transform the aura of spaces at night. From monuments and riverfronts to villas and boulevards, lights, when angled optimally, can enhance features that otherwise escape attention. They can also dramatise an environment without disrupting the placement of tangible objects and spaces. In an attempt to celebrate the many iterations of lighting design enriching spaces across the globe, UK-based collective [d]arc media organised LiGHT, a two-day lighting event that platformed designers, specifiers and architects from the lighting industry. Held on November 22 and 23, 2022, at the Business Design Centre in London, it witnessed the attendance of over 100 brands and 3,000 visitors. [d]arc thoughts, a talks programme curated and moderated by [d]arc media, in collaboration with international lighting control specialist Lutron, as part of the design event, helped establish a dialogue on the subject and the future scope of the creative discipline.

  • [d]arc thoughts was organised by [d]arc media and Lutron | STIRworld
    [d]arc thoughts was organised by [d]arc media and Lutron Image: Courtesy of STIR
  • [d]arc thoughts: Masters of Light | LiGHT22 | STIRworld
    [d]arc thoughts: Masters of Light Image: Courtesy of STIR

Pondering on the impact of initiatives like LiGHT22, as well as the role of media in helping recognise lighting design as a critical creative practice, managing director at [d]arc media, Paul James shared, “What is architecture without light? [d]arc media’s aim has always been to promote the recognition of the lighting design profession and of high-quality lighting specification in general. We have been delighted with the response to LiGHT22 and will strive to develop the event further to establish it as one of the most important lighting design exhibitions in the world, particularly given London’s importance as a hub of international design. For too long, lighting exhibitions both in the UK and overseas, have been diluted by all aspects of the lighting business, including wholesale and 'value-engineered' products. By targeting high-end specifications, LiGHT emphasises the important role of lighting designers in this process.”

Sally Storey, the Founding Director of Lighting Design International | LiGHT22 | STIRworld
Sally Storey, the Founding Director of Lighting Design International Image: Courtesy of [d]arc media

Sally Storey, the Founding Director of Lighting Design International, and one of the panellists on LiGHT22's headline talk Masters of Light(ing), enunciated on man’s impatient urge and expectation for immediate change and innovation. However, a lighting designer must attempt to find sustainable solutions that can not only mitigate ecological challenges but also serve the client’s requirements. “It is critical we evaluate the space, whilst working with the client’s requirements, ensuring that every scheme is both energy efficient and providing the right levels of light. It is our duty to use technology as a tool to achieve new scenarios which were not available in the past, but as humans, we have the responsibility of respecting the environment and designing lighting schemes which are sustainable,” Storey asserted.

Inessa Lomas of Arup | LiGHT22 | STIRworld
Inessa Lomas of Arup Image: Courtesy of [d]arc media

Inessa Lomas, Senior Designer at Arup, enunciating on man’s ability to both break and mend systems and situations, shared, “It is said that we humans are good at two things—creating problems and solving problems. With the increasing availability of highly efficient artificial lighting, increasing speed of life and our desire to get the most out of it, we have created more light pollution than ever. However, I believe it’s the same spirit of getting the best quality of life and not losing the ever-so-important ability to wonder that will bring us the clear dark skies back. The lighting designers are positioned well as experts who are passionate about quality of experience and can show the best practice to be adopted.”

Colin Ball, lighting designer at BDP | LiGHT22 | STIRworld
Colin Ball, lighting designer at BDP Image: Courtesy of [d]arc media

Lighting designer Colin Ball of BDP, on the other hand, believes that a lighting experience can be enhanced when all contributors to lighting are configured optimally. "This involves daylight, sunlight textures as well as artificial lighting. When we combine these as a singular experience, we are able to use a minimal amount of energy strictly just when and where needed,” Ball shared. Further pondering on the benefits of technology, he added, “This means interpreting lighting codes in a creative way and a lot of approvals negotiation. Technology now enables us to tailor our lighting to people, their locations and tasks, either for work or relaxation, this enables us to create a series of differing environments within a single space, environments that respond to the constant changing of daylight.”

Ruth Kelly-Waskett of Hoare Lea | LiGHT22 | STIRworld
Ruth Kelly-Waskett of Hoare Lea Image: Courtesy of [d]arc media

Ruth Kelly-Waskett of UK-based multi-disciplinary engineering firm Hoare Lea, shared her disparate insights on artificial lighting and the its harm to the circadian cycles of all living beings. “Artificial light at night has been identified as one of the major contributors to decreasing biodiversity. In humans, night-time light exposure can degrade sleep, leading to a range of ill effects. In our design practice, we aim to create beautiful places for people to enjoy while at the same time ensuring that there is only light where and when it is needed. This is a difficult balance, which is why expertise is needed,” Kelly-Waskett explained. In taking this approach to design lights and lighting systems in indoor and outdoor environments, one can not only help maintain the biological rhythm but also reduce energy consumption and light pollution. Further contemplating on the harm done while manufacturing lights, she added, "These days, lighting equipment is essentially electronic equipment, containing many conflict minerals and precious resources. Historically, we have specified lighting equipment with technical performance, aesthetics and cost in mind. Now, we need to consider how it was produced (its embodied carbon), and whether it can be disassembled so that expired parts can be easily replaced, instead of wasting the entire product. This new focus on the circular economy is one of the biggest drivers of change in the lighting industry today.”

Sarah Roberts, Marketing Director of John Cullen Lighting | LiGHT22 | STIRworld
Sarah Roberts, Marketing Director of John Cullen Lighting Image: Courtesy of [d]arc media

While lighting design is an arena that is slowly attracting creatives to experiment with different kinds of technology, in order to facilitate both optimal and experiential environments, the growing awareness about ecological challenges and environmental threats is a factor that brands, specifiers, and designers must assess and lay a concern to. Marketing Director of UK-based brand John Cullen Lighting, Sarah Roberts, shared her thoughts on this with STIR, "Typically, legislation drives change. However, the lighting industry is employing technology in order to facilitate this change. Consumers are aware of environmental issues and are also challenging us to be more environmentally conscious which in turn helps strengthen our commercial business case for change.”

  • Brands presenting products at LiGHT22 | LiGHT22 | STIRworld
    Brands presenting products at LiGHT22 Image: Courtesy of [d]arc media
  • A talk programme ongoing at the event | LiGHT22 | STIRworld
    A talk programme ongoing at the event Image: Courtesy of [d]arc media

Adding to this argument, Miguel Aguado, Marketing & Technology Manager of Lutron shared, “With all these years of technology, we are employing means and modes that help save energy while delivering an enhanced human experience. The latest regulations on commercial buildings in the UK follow a systems approach that gives enhanced energy savings. Traditionally, most people think that to save energy, one must turn off the lights. However, reducing the high end, the maximum output by just 10 to 20 per cent saves as much energy as turning off lights. Additionally, when you combine this system with a daylight sensor, you compound all the benefits.”

  • Exhibition view of LiGHT22 | LiGHT22 | STIRworldd
    Exhibition view of LiGHT22 Image: Courtesy of STIR
  • STIR at LiGHT22 | LiGHT22 | STIRworld
    STIR at LiGHT22 Image: Courtesy of STIR

In an attempt to bridge the gap between theory and practice, LiGHT22's talks programme, [d]arc thoughts, was stationed right next to the booths displaying works by designers and brands. In doing so, an attempt was made to engage exhibitors and visitors alike in conversations that spanned discussions on materials, wellness, the importance of light art and more. Although the discourse around architecture has grown to acknowledge the importance of various socio-political and environmental issues and seeks to address sustainability, decolonisation, inclusivity, access, representation, placemaking and more, lighting continues to remain tightly tied to manufacturing lead aspects around sustainability. Two talks at the design event that broke this mould and attempted to explore the aforementioned subjects were The Weaponisation of Light and Lighting Design as a Strategy for Inclusion.

Despite lighting being the defining aspect of various architectural and urban spaces, it is often viewed as one of the many sub-branches that fall under the architectural denomination. It is believed to enhance spaces, although it bears the potential to transform them. While LiGHT22, as an inaugural event, witnessed healthy participation and urged the design and architecture community to view lighting as a critical limb of the creative process that drives the scenography of space, one can anticipate the start of more critical and layered conversations in tandem with the field, in the future iterations of the event.

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