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Credit: Jimmy Fishbein

"The lighting industry as we all knew it is gone-the days of walking Lightfair, knowing everyone and the history of lighting companies-it's not the mom-and-pop industry it used to be. On the other hand, it's very exciting to be involved in an industry that is changing so fast."


Ann Reo never imagined that her architecture education would lead her to luminaire design and to the launch of her own business, but it did. After graduation, Reo worked in the electrical engineering department of an architecture firm. The work required a lot of custom luminaire design, and she was hooked. Time at Indy Lighting and then Focal Point, as vice president of product development and marketing, gave her the necessary business insight. Then in 2000, she wrote a business plan, designed fixtures, and secured funding for the launch of her company, io Lighting, which was established in 2002. From the start, io has been recognized as a leader in the LED field, first as an independent company and now as a brand of Cooper Lighting, which acquired io in 2007.

What makes a great luminaire?

It's that sweet spot of very good luminaire efficacies. But you have to respect that a person is going to use the space and be mindful of discomfort glare and visual cut-offs.

What excites you about LEDs?

Their small scale. They allow you to redefine the architecture of a light fixture and deliver powerful, controlled illumination.

Why have LEDs faced a different level of scrutiny than other light sources?

Some manufacturers created false expectations about longevity and color shift over life. As a manufacturer, you have to be truthful about what to expect from the fixture and be honest with the designer.

Are LED standards—such as LM-79, LM-80, and TM-21—helpful, or are they buzzwords that people don't really understand?

They are incredibly helpful. What does drive me crazy is the term “delivered lumens.” Just because a light fixture is more efficient than the next doesn't mean it's a good one. It has to serve the application properly. A good lighting designer is going to know the difference.

How do we get away from “lumens per watt”?

You have to know how to balance the components. A 1W LED that provides 220 lumens per watt is incredibly bright. You have to go down a half watt or a quarter watt—offer a lower-wattage solution that is proportional to the light output. Quality of light is critical beyond luminaire efficacy.