Green issues are set to steal the limelight at ARC’s lighting show

Sustainability concerns have focused more attention on lighting design than ever, as specifiers seek to get the lighting effect they want for the minimum energy. This will be one of the key themes of The ARC Show 2012, the annual exhibition for architectural, retail and commercial lighting at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London, from February 29 — March 1.

This year’s event will feature approximately 80 exhibitors plus new features on sustainable lighting, healthcare and education lighting to supplement areas on urban and retail lighting launched last year. It will be curated by Durham Marenghi, who was the first British designer to light an Olympic event. He promises to bring more “fun and visual flair” to the event and inspire architects to seek more creative lighting designs. An Innovation Awards area will showcase new products chosen on design and/or technical merit.

The event will run alongside the Design Prima interiors show and will include the International Association of Lighting Designers’ Enlighten Europe Conference. Participants include Mark Sutton Vane, principal of Sutton Vane Associates, Durham Marenghi and Kevin Theobald, president-elect of the IALD.

According to Theobald, energy-efficiency remains the big issue for lighting designers and their clients, fuelled by regulations and soaring energy costs. While he welcomes the development of LEDs and expects to see a strong LED presence at the show, he says these should be seen as a useful tool rather than a panacea.

“We’re seeing LED in mainstream design. which we wouldn’t have done 18 months ago … LED has come a long way but there’s still an awful lot of variation in the quality of products, which makes it very difficult from a specifier’s point of view,” he says.

There are other ways to make energy savings, he adds, in particular the proper use of lighting controls such as linking them to daylighting. “The onus is on the designer to work with facility managers and end-users to ensure that people understand what [the controls] are.”

Theobald welcomes proposals to change building regulations to assess lighting in terms of actual power used in situ rather than by luminaire efficiency, but warns that lighting designers should not lose sight of quality of light and avoid getting too bogged down in technical issues.

There are other technical innovations afoot, as well as still-emerging plasma technologies and OLED. Show curator Durham Marenghi is introducing US theatrical and architectural lighting designer ETC to discuss its new Spectral Equalisation technology at the conference. This promises the chance to fine-tune the white light of LED by amalgamating RGB and CMYK light sources. This gives the potential to pick up, for example, specific tones in brick, metal and stonework.

“As architects understand more about the theatrical use of lighting design, architectural lighting will become closer to theatrical lighting in terms of the vision of what it can achieve,” says Marenghi.