Light+Building showcases innovative and intelligent lighting products
From 15th – 20th April, this year’s Light+Building, the world’s biggest trade fair for lighting and building services technology, attracted some 196,000 visitors, an increase of 7% compared to the last edition two years ago. There was significant growth in numbers from North and South American and Asian countries such as India, South Korea and Japan. Also known as the Frankfurt Fair or Messe, visitors were exposed to 2,352 manufacturers (up 9%) from 50 countries showing their latest products and trends in lighting, electrical engineering, home and building automation and software.
According to a poll of German visitors, low energy consumption is the most important factor for 90 percent of landlords and 84 percent of tenants, ahead of other aspects such as price, location, facilities and ambience. “Our survey shows how important the subject of energy efficiency has become for consumers against the background of increasing energy prices. And this is a great step forward, especially for the climate and environment because buildings are still the biggest energy consumers”, said Wolfgang Marzin, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Messe Frankfurt.
Getting to light+building was easy and very well organized. To reduce traffic congestion and waiting times, ticket holders were given free access to the train, tram and bus network throughout the city and surrounding area. The massive car parks had buses waiting to take you to the entrance and once inside the fair grounds, shuttle buses ran continuously to each of the buildings. There was even a special park for RV’s with full facilities.
The halls that housed lighting manufacturers featured many new companies who have entered the market relatively recently – following the development of LEDs for lighting applications. And of course, the giants of the industry were all represented with huge, inspiring booths featuring areas segmented into applications or with a technology focus.
Digitalization was one of the focus areas of the show and a lot of companies demonstrated integrated light and building control systems for commercial and residential buildings. Networked and intelligent solutions pointed perhaps to a future of more companies working together to ensure compatibility. During one of the many seminars presented, a contractor remarked “I need to go back to school and study electronics to understand all of this!”.
Unlike 2 years ago when most LED luminaires were still retrofits of conventional housings, the show featured many brilliantly designed products built around the LEDs’ physical attributes. New shapes and forms were shown and the creativity of some companies was amazing (think of LED wall-coverings). However, managing optical design of small light sources in large surface areas can still be a trial for some. The old adage that ‘one mans glare is another mans sparkle’ certainly gave some sales people poetic license.
Still very much at the beginning of their development, the record level of efficiency (87 lm/W) achieved by OLEDs in laboratory tests in June 2011 made people realize that this technology wasn’t 10 years away anymore. Although now 40 percent higher, this is still only 50 percent of the light produced by conventional LEDs. Not deterred by these figures, the huge benefits of OLEDs has inspired many companies to showcase early developments.
For 28 years, products from exhibitors and young designers in the fields of lighting and building automation have competed for the Design Plus award. This year, 128 companies from 26 countries took part, with 239 entries in all. The panel of experts chose 28 products to receive the Design Plus award and three of these were honored with the title “Best Of”. These were the ONYXX:LED range of lighting units from German manufacturer Grimmeisen Licht GmbH, the Otto Watt LED table lamp from the Italian firm, Luceplan, and the LED Microtools lighting system from Zumtobel in Austria.
In addition, 106 entries by 84 young designers from 20 countries took part in the “Design Plus for Young Creative Talents” competition. 14 entries received awards; three of these were additionally labelled “Best Of”. These were the “Lumierecrown” chandelier from Denise Hachinger (Salzburg), the sculptural “Lichtraum – Raumlicht” luminaire from Marcel Schwegler (Darmstadt) and the “Modell 111″ system of illumination spots from Bernhard Osann (Hamburg).
The ‘Trend Forum’ area showcased 4 themes by design agency bora.herke.palmisano that will be seen in homes in 2012/2013. These ranged from ‘Fluorescent Modern’ – clear, unfussy designs and intense color tones, to ‘Hot Elegance‘ – reduced shapes, clear lines, strongly sculptured forms and lots of black.
The other theme of the show was ‘Buildings as power stations in the smart grid’ and this featured an exhibition area showing what the future could look like in terms of decentralized energy production using regenerative energies. The focal point was the building as a decentralized power station that, integrated into an intelligent network, could generate, use and control energy. Parallel to this, the 100 square-metre ‘E-House’ special show of the Central Association of the German Electrical and Information Technology Trades (Zentralverband der Deutschen Elektro- und Informationstechnischen Handwerke – ZVEH) in Hall 8.0 showcased realistic insights into the opportunities offered by intelligent buildings when it comes to energy efficiency, comfort and security.
During the evenings after Light+Building, visitors had the chance to enjoy another highlight – Luminale – a spectacular series of illuminations that transformed locations in Frankfurt and the surrounding area into fascinating worlds of light. Over 140,000 visitors from all over the world were thrilled by the 170 lighting installations.
Although the average time spent by visitors at the fair was two days, it is almost impossible to see everything in that time. If you plan on attending the next one in April 2014, book your hotel now to avoid high rates and plan to stay longer. There’s a lot to see and do.
The next Light+Building will be held in Frankfurt am Main from
30 March to 4 April 2014.
Written by Julie Allen