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- Impressions of PLDC 2011
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PLDC Steering Committee Chair
Mr. Joachim Ritter
Marienfelder Str. 18
Phone: +49 5241 307 26 0
Impressions of PLDC 2011
One of the first important events, one of the pre-convention meetings to PLDC, gave indications that the lighting design industry in Europe is about to take a huge step forward. The forum staged by the European lighting industry, represented by CELMA on behalf of the luminaire manufacturers and the ELC on behalf of the lamp manufacturers, and PLDA, who invited lighting designers from all the important designers’ associations, discussed the CELMA-ELC vision of “EU Lighting System Legislation” and the consequences for the professional lighting designer. This marks a significant turning point in the efforts that have been made to date to gain recognition for the profession: in the process of introducing new legislative procedures in the interest of energy efficiency and solid state lighting, the market will need to be able to identify qualified lighting designers. How can that be achieved? The lighting industry wants a strong and identifiable profession. Now it is up to the lighting designers. Alvaro Andorlini, the current President of CELMA challenged the lighting designers and their associations to seize the initiative and take steps in Europe, at least. Support from the industry associations is there. Speakers from the industry made a point of underlining the fact that in future lighting design will not only be regarded as a technical discipline, but that it will also serve human interests. This is a point that the European lighting industry and the lighting design community no longer basically differ on. Even the representatives from ELC, and President of the Global Lighting Forum Jan Dennemann, pointed to the huge chances the lighting designers have waiting for them to respond to. A study carried out by McKinsey & Company which was commissioned by the lighting industry once again underlines the immense dynamic changes underway on the market thanks to solid state lighting. The market volume for lighting controls alone is due to expand threefold by 2020. Lighting control technology is in a field of its own, however, and not automatically part of a lighting designer’s set of skills. But it should be. Lighting designers need to know how to apply and control solid state lighting. Given the research that has recently been published on the effect of light on humans, lighting designers are in a good position to gain recognition they deserve as specialists.
The papers and electronic posters presented at PLDC also reflect this trend and provided a good basis for attendees to expand their knowledge.
Further pre-convention events included meetings on Sustainability and association issues (both organised by PLDA) plus an Educators’ Knowledge Transfer Session (organised by VIA-Verlag), which was attended by more than 60 educators from all over the world. The response to the latter session is a further indication of the changes the industry is undergoing. Knowledge about light and lighting technologies is increasing fast – so fast that it is becoming impossible to disseminate the information at an effective speed. There are simply not enough qualified educators to do the job. This requires serious attention: concepts need to be developed that can serve the industry in the long term.
The main sponsoring partners of PLDC 2011 were Zumtobel and Thorn. Their generous support marked their active commitment and response to the changing lighting world. On the occasion of the official opening reception both Reinhardt Wurzer from Zumtobel and Richard Hall from Thorn referred to the huge historical chance the lighting industry, and the lighting designer in particular, are now facing. The lighting industry is prepared to support this change. Leading companies such as Zumtobel and Thorn have recognized the change as an opportunity and will be responding accordingly.
More than 1200 attendees from 62 countries from around the world registered for PLDC 2011 in Madrid altogether. Over 900 attended from day one. Four tracks of lectures were given over three levels of the wonderful Circulo des Bellas Artes venue in the centre of Madrid. Besides having the opportunity to meet and exchange with international colleagues, the convention attendees were faced with the difficult task of deciding on the “right” papers to go and listen to. The wide range of topics and the high quality of both the contents and the speakers made it frustrating for some people to make the right choice. The four tracks covered Exterior Lighting Solutions, Research, Practical Issues and Case Studies and provided further evidence of current market trends and developments: in particular, public lighting, hotel lighting, video projections and dynamic lighting schemes as a special focus of lighting design in public spaces, and naturally the new scope solid state lighting offers, gave rise to lively discussion and debate.
In his opening keynote, Paul Marantz drew attention to the tension that still remains between energy saving issues and achieving the right lighting conditions for humans, and that the question of light quality has not yet got through to society in general, as the phasing out of the incandescent lamp clearly shows. Paul Marantz did not go into too much detail on the incandescent lamp itself, but focussed rather on how the process illustrates how little high-quality light is valued as an elementary part of our lives. He is convinced that more energy could be saved if consumers learn to apply light more purposefully than through using new technologies. If the user could better measure how much energy he was using, he would be more inclined to want to save it.
Keynote speaker Hadi Teherani reported from his perspective as an architect on the changes architectural design is undergoing and the new challenges the future will bring which are already reality today.
The focus of the first day of papers at PLDC was on new lighting interventions in the public realm. Projections and LED screens make for completely new facade lighting solutions. Digitalized light is having a huge impact on the public spaces in our towns and cities. Licht can activate public life. Public spaces become immersive environments, public viewing a real crowd puller – with facades transformed into art installations or used as TV screens to broadcast events. In fact screens are becoming a fixed component of our public lives. Using existing architecture for this purpose is often only acceptable as a temporary solution. In the medium term it is not the technology, but the designed contents that give rise to inspiring and meaningful media facades. As far as creative content is concerned, the sky seems to be the limit, which is basically a good thing – but may entail an element of risk.
The second day at the convention was all about the changes currently in progress, and how lighting design culture can align with and become part of the movement.
The future of modern architecture has already begun. Dr. Alexander Rieck from Lava Architekten gave a keynote speech in which he described new approaches to architectural design that address and incorporate sustainable solutions. Right now we are faced with a boom of environment-friendly innovations and design solutions which have an enormous impact on architecture. Along with this ecological trend is the desire and aspiration to promote health and well-being in architecture. Both factors together will form the basis of the economic upswing we can expect in the next 30 years. Light plays a central role in both cases, and is significant for the success of these respective developments. The use of daylight, together with the possibilities digitalised light and solid state lighting offer, guarantee a huge boost in the economy on the lighting market. The time has come to reorientate and adapt to change. The entire industry – manufacturers and designers alike – now have the task of defining and acknowledging these opportunities and adjusting to the realities ahead. This is a chance for development based on energy efficiency and the quality of life through well designed lighting.
Swiss architect Philippe Rahm presented his complex philosophical approach to architectural design, which entails light as an important but not the sole element that influences our perception. His interpretation of architectural space goes as far as defining space without visible room limits. Room climate and the individual’s perspective can give rise to different perceptual interpretations within the same space.
The introduction to the main focus of the third and last day was provided by Keynote Speaker Prof. Brian Cody, who not only sees daylight as one way of saving energy, but as an elementary component of architectural design. The symbiosis of daylight and architecture is far more than a turn of phrase with a clever ring; it must become an integral part of modern architectural design. Right now there are very few (lighting) design firms who can claim to have daylight architecture on their agenda. Prof. Cody’s carefully selected project slides showed how daylight can be intelligently applied in architecture to achieve convincing design solutions that also support a healthy room climate.
Prof. Alan Dilani’s keynote speech dealt with the significance of electric light and daylight for human health. The experience he has gathered in the health sector documents the positive effect of light on humans and the gradual changes that are taking place in the design of hospital and nursing environments.
The final afternoon of the convention concentrated on the technical challenges related to digitalised light. A practical session demonstrated the scope and limits of new technologies. Digitalised light offers high precision, but this must be matched by precise planning. Design errors are very readily identifiable. Lighting designers need to shape up their skills to be able to keep pace with this technological trend. Lighting control is also destined to play a more significant part in the lighting designer’s work in future. According to a report published by McKinsey & Company the market for lighting controls is looking to expand significantly – threefold has been quoted – over the coming years, which means designers are going to have to take steps to include expertise in the field if they want to remain competitive.
The theories and ideas propounded by the speakers in the continuing education programme offered at PLDC 2011 in Madrid gave a clear signal to all present – get moving (vamos)! The crises the finance markets and economies are going through are not particularly helpful, it is true, but there is a chance there somewhere: investment in good state-of-the-art lighting will indeed pay off in the medium term because it can save costs as well as energy. In spite of, or perhaps because of, current prospects it is up to the lighting designer to respond to the changes on the market and the need for more know-how and to take continuing education very seriously.
PLDC 2011 concluded with a gala evening in Madrid’s new cultural centre, the Matadero. Up to a few years ago the Matadero was what its name says: an abattoir. The renovation programme is well underway, and the refurbishment of the hall where the PLDC event took place had only been completed and opened for events a few months previously. As chance would have it, the gala guests were in for a surprise even before the event got underway. A power failure in the part of Madrid that included part of the Matadero premises meant the gala venue was without electricity for several hours on the ‘big day’. While guests showed their patience and enjoyed a welcoming drink outside the venue, the organisers managed to overcome the mishap with the result that the dinner was served a little later that expected – and the artists engaged to perform during the gala evening did so without a dress rehearsal.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the PLD Recognition awards.