Although trade-show season is one of the busiest times of year, it is also one of my favorites. The chance to celebrate the professions, see the latest products and technology introductions (many of which are included in the pages of this, our annual product issue), listen to presentations given by industry experts and thought leaders in related fields, and most importantly, the opportunity to network with members of the architectural and lighting design communities, is something I look forward to each year. I particularly love connecting with practitioners, manufacturers, educators, students, and young professionals, and hearing what they are thinking; what they are looking forward to; and what keeps them awake at night.
I attend both the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Convention and Lightfair, which reminds me how similar and yet how different the disciplines of architecture and lighting are. On the one hand, these two worlds come together in a particularly immediate way. Each faces similar challenges posed by the economy, the need to adapt to new technologies, and the changing nature of design practice itself. And yet, the lighting discussions at these two venues couldn't be more different. At the AIA Convention, it's about looking at lighting from the outside in; at Lightfair, it's about looking at lighting from the inside out. What I mean by this is that each venue serves different communities, and with that comes the opportunity to discuss lighting in a way that makes the most sense for their respective knowledge bases and familiarity levels.
At the AIA Convention, I witness architects' thirst for lighting information; it is a great venue for lighting designers and manufacturers to present new products and designs, whether in the official lineup of seminars or at booths on the trade-show floor. The AIA Convention is a fantastic occasion to promote lighting awareness and to provide valuable information about lighting-related issues to architecture colleagues. It is also an important way to remind architects that while architecture and lighting are two different disciplines, they are also two parts of a greater whole—design.
The discussion at Lightfair, by contrast, is a movable feast for lighting—workshops and seminars provide a range of design and technical information for all experience levels. The singular challenge, particularly for an editor, is figuring out a way to fit it all in.
“I attend both the American Institute of Architects National Convention and Lightfair, which reminds me how similar and yet how different the disciplines of architecture and lighting are.”
I'm especially excited about Lightfair this year. A new venue—Philadelphia—if only for a year, shakes things up a bit and gets the entire lighting community out of its regular patterns. The team members that put Lightfair together, particularly the show's organizers AMC, should be applauded for their continued push to move the show forward and make it an indispensable part of the lighting-community's offerings, as they introduce new events and make information accessible via new platforms. Lightfair isn't just for lighting designers, it's for any designer interested in light.
There's no way to list everything for either show, but below is a list of a few things that caught my eye as I looked at the respective conference programs.
My agenda at AIA will include the keynote talks given by The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and strategist Jeb Brugmann. Lighting designers Keith Yancey of Lam Partners and Jack Bailey of One Lux Studio will present “Daylighting: It's the Law.” David Pfund of lighting manufacturer The Lighting Quotient is part of the group that will deliver a talk called “Designing for Regional Growth: the First Office of the Future.” And throughout the duration of the convention Eric Lind of Lutron will present “Lighting Control and LEED” at the Lutron booth on the show floor. All three presentations are sure to offer informative lighting discussions. And, of course, the International Association of Lighting Designers will have its booth, as it does every year, with its great presentations by lighting designers.
My Lightfair lineup includes (in no particular order): the keynote talk by architect Jeanne Gang of Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects; the keynote talk by lighting designers Jonathan Speirs, Mark Major, and Keith Bradshaw of U.K.-based Speirs + Major Associates; and the GE Edison Awards. Then there's the Lightfair Innovation Awards, Lightfair's new evening program LightFEST, the IALD Education Trust Dinner, the show-floor keynote talk with Ingo Maurer, Lightfair's new media panel discussion (of which I am a participant), connecting with the show via Lightfair's new app (called LFI mobile app), the vast array of design workshops and seminars, and the various pavilions and manufacturer displays on the show floor. There are also a lot of exciting opportunities for students, from portfolio reviews to a new student competition.
Whether you are a veteran attendee or a first-time visitor, my advice is to spend some time with the show directories and plan ahead. Of course, all of your carefully laid plans will change when you arrive on site, but at least the semblance of an organized approach will help you to navigate the vast offerings at each venue. Check the respective conference websites (convention.aia.org and lightfair.com) for the latest information and scheduling details. I'm looking forward to reporting back about the pertinent issues I've unearthed during the spring conference season.