The ARC Show: Tripping the light fantastic

Here at The Design Hub I’ve been getting excited about the bright future of LED lighting (pun intended) for ages, so you can imagine how excited I must have been to be going to the UK’s premier architectural, retail and commercial lighting show.

The show was held at the Business Design Centre in London, an exhibition hall that is also home to lots of local business’s. Each business unit has clear glass windows so you can clearly see what’s going on in each one, there is even a fitness/boxing gym where you see people sparing. With the trade show on two floors in the centre the place feels alive. However after wandering around for half an hour my initial excitement was somewhat squashed. The promotional material sent out prior to the show had led my overactive imagination to believe that my eyes would be assaulted from all corners by dazzling displays of mind bending light installations, but that was the evening before, I’d come just for the trade show.

Many traders at the show were selling their skills as masters of complex architectural and theatrical lighting, creating incredibly intricate and large scale projects on a bespoke basis. This meant many stands consisted mostly of case studies and images of previous projects. But beyond this there were still many things that impressed me from an interior design point of view, here’s what I found:

°on line – design by Bart Lens.  Available through Vista Light Ltd

Vista Light’s stall  showcased some brilliantly designed products, but the one that stuck out the most was also the most understated. Like most good design the °on line series of lights is functional simplicity. Using a magnetic track installed in the ceiling, different light units can simply be placed in the track and angled any way they need, as easily as putting a magnet on the fridge. They are sleek, unobtrusive and adaptable; ideal for using to highlight feature walls and objects. The fittings come in three types: dot – a mini adjustable spot light; knick – a positionable and angular sheet; built in or wall mounted – for discrete lighting.

At first I thought these lights were for use in gallery’s and museums, but they are actually mostly used in private residencies.

Koncept  – Ergonomic LED lighting. Available from Ergo.

This range of desk and floor standing lamps were understandably gathering a lot of interest at the show. Their slim, angular looks grabbed my attention straight away; reminding me of a 21st century version of the angle poise lamp. They move around their pivots easily, holding any position and they look very cool. Targeted to architects who are designing office spaces, because that’s where the bulk of sales are made, they are perfect to be used to add a finishing touch to a home office or bedside table.

IRIS by Spectral Lighting

Another impressive retail and commercial targeted light was the award winning IRIS. Designed as a transparent halo of light, it is moulded from clear acrylic, and uses clever optical technology to make glare free lighting and excellent performance. Available in suspended, recessed, surface and wall-mount, IRIS can be customised with the addition of opal foils and colour filters to dramatically alter its appearance.

LED Light Sheet by Appletec

This product is as versatile as your imagination. It basically consists of an plastic sheet with a grid etched into it and colour changing LED bulbs integrated all around the edge. The effect is that the plastic sheet glows bright and even and is ideal for all kinds of uses.

Some of the ways designers had used it included: Glowing recycled glass splash back; product shelves in stores; poster and exhibition displays;  ambient kitchen lighting; large scale signage.

Fibre Optic Lighting by Universal Fibre Optics

Can you guess what this company specialises in? That’s right! Bespoke fiber optic lighting. Fibre optics has many advantages over conventional lights. There is no electricity in the fibre optic, so they can be installed in wet and damp areas like swimming pools, showers and bathrooms. They are very versatile and can be used to line steps, create chandeliers, in floor lighting and so on. If you are lucky enough to have the budget and freedom to consider using fibre optics on a project, your only limitation will be your imagination.

Bespoke lighting by Inspired By Design

If you are looking for some lighting inspiration then browse Inspired by Design’s vast gallery of lighting solutions. If you are looking for advice about creating something unique, these guys have got bags of experience, and a great eye for good design.

By the end of my time at The ARC show my excitement had returned. The limitless creativity that was demonstrated by these lighting companies was astounding. I was often speaking to the actual engineers and designers themselves who were visibly excited at the possibilities that the new LED technologies had opened up for them. In the future we’re all going to have to wear shades.

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