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Evolution of Luminaires: History, Future, Culture, Technology, Design Workshop at The LED Show

Far too often discourse about the future of lighting is focused only on new technologies emerging, evolving, and multiplying at a dizzying rate, and on a relentless news feed of mergers, acquisitions and market projections. We forget that“disruptive” transitions to new technologies in the past closely mirror those in the present and that we can look to history as a rich source of ideas for better design. 

Today new technologies offer unlimited new possibilities to use light in ways never before possible. But to date the prevalent design approach has been to simply replace incandescent and fluorescent sources with LED in fixtures that were designed around the limitations of those earlier technologies. We are often constrained by our cognitive grasp of what constitutes a light source in the first place – the lines between lamps, fixtures, and other components and systems are steadily blurring and being redefined. And our entire electrical infrastructure, originally designed and installed first to deliver electric incandescent lighting, must be gradually upgraded and transformed in order to make the best use of LED and other new technologies, such as IoT. This presents a wide set of unique challenges to designers of luminaires and the power and control systems behind them. 

Many trends in the lighting industry impact luminaire design today, including miniaturization; consolidation of functions; simplification; digitization; sensorization; “ledification”; LiFI; embedded intelligence; connectivity; and supply chain compression. And as technologies multiply and combine, we find ourselves redefining our fundamental relationship with light.

Questions that this workshop will address include:

• How can we adapt to the fundamental directional nature of LED light sources when previous technologies are omnidirectional?

• How can we manage our product roadmap, and how can we figure out what the market really needs?

• How can we manage a potentially crushing proliferation of SKUs in our product line an din lighting products in general?

• How can we plan for products that meet the needs of retrofit vs new construction?

• How can we insure that non-lighting functions and stakeholders don’t exert undue influence on lighting decisions?

• Who do we partner with: when and why?

The 4 hour workshop session will consist of presentations, a panel discussion, and audience Q&A and collaboration. It will include an overview of historical, cultural, and aesthetic influences in luminaire design in addition to technical considerations. Leading luminaire designers, product managers, and specifiers will present successful solutions and approaches. Interactive group exercises will focus on identifying products and applications that are most needed to meet today’s challenges for energy performance, health and wellbeing, modularity, adaptability, connectivity, and “future proofing.”

It will also include a design charrette, whereby audience and speakers divide into three teams to develop a design concept for a luminaire. Each team will have approximately an hour to develop concepts, then present them to the speaker panel, who will act as funders/approvers of the project.