the numbers are in. the biennial frankfurt-located light+building, held from april to , logged a 16 percent increase over its 2004 attendee numbers, from 116,000 visitors two years ago to 134,489 this year. Show manager Messe Frankfurt also reported international participation of 32 percent (up from 27 percent two years ago). While not all of the 119,000 square feet of exhibition space was devoted to lighting (the show also incorporated engineering, home and building automation, and architecture-related systems), there was more than enough on the 15 lighting-devoted floors to keep the ambitious visitor busy for at least five days-and sore for many more following.
Among U.S. attendees, the response was overwhelmingly positive, particularly for first-timers who cannot help but be impressed with the sheer volume, as well as the general quality, of everything from product to booth design. (At least this is the case in the main halls-a few of the pavilions are afflicted with the same familiar trade show schlock.) Attending for the first time, David Clinard, a lighting designer in the exhibition department of New York's American Museum of Natural History, says he was impressed to see manufacturers 'spending time and energy on product development, instead of just making adjustments to existing product lines. They are interested in new ways of integrating lighting into architectural spaces.' The show, he notes, will definitely be on his 2008 itinerary.
Messe Frankfurt reported a significant increase in U.S. exhibitors for the 2006 show. While the total number was only 22 (versus China's 290, for example), it represented a 37.5 percent increase over 2004's number. Of the countries with the most exhibiting manufacturers, only a few saw a decrease from 2004 to 2006: Switzerland, Taiwan, and Turkey. (See 'Top Exhibitors by Country,' left.)
In addition to aisle after aisle of product, a number of interesting extracurricular events engaged show goers. The 'Lights of the Future' competition honored luminaires that combined energy efficiency with design-among them products from Artemide, Hess Form+Licht, and Reggiani. Young Designer awards were also given: first prize went to Robin Carpenter for her Spiralight, second to Bettina Wassermann for the Luna luminaire, and thirds to both Henning Bögershausen for Blattwerk and Sabrina Catrin Meyer for L!ight-Me.
Outside the fair grounds, the Luminale program offered a series of installations, events, exhibits, and other points of interest around the city and outlying neighborhoods-more than 160 in total. Each project was autonomously funded and organized, but unified in its focus on light. A Luminale city tour was offered (though this was booked long in advance), as well as a nightly bus circuit, to help visitors view the illuminated sites-some permanent, most temporary. The European Lighting Designers' Association also partnered with the IALD to host a 'Celebration of Light' at the Frankfurt Opera House. The evening of drinking and dancing featured a presentation by Luc LaFortune from Cirque du Soleil, and a light show in the building's main volume.
Altogether, from the show floor to the city outside, the Light+Building event is a must for design practitioners that work with light. Mark your calendars now for April 6 to 10, 2006. For more information on the show, visit light-building.messefrankfurt.com/frankfurt. A|L
(A|L will report on product trends from Light+Building in its July/August 2006 issue.)