"The next great development in outdoor lighting is dimming and controls. To date, outdoor lighting hasn't had to contend with these issues on a large scale, but now we are seeing requests to create effective communication happen over the power lines so that LED products out in the landscape space can interface with sophisticated lighting controls."
With a career in lighting that has spanned more than 25 years and a trajectory from sales agent to manufacturer, Ron Naus, president of B-K Lighting and Teka Illumination, has witnessed the industry’s evolution from many different perspectives. What has stayed with him throughout his career is the complex and critical connection between lighting manufacturer and lighting designer. One of his first specification calls, to legendary lighting designer Lesley Wheel’s office, was transformative. “It wasn’t about just showing her a product,” Naus says. “She wanted a manufacturer who would respond to her design and luminaire needs for the project.” It’s this knowledge base—the ability to learn from industry veterans both in design and manufacturing—that Naus fears is the victim of the industry’s present transformation. It is also what makes Naus’s no-nonsense approach, as a lighting manufacturer and a member of the IALD Education Trust’s Board of Directors, all the more valuable in an industry where change is the new constant.
What fascinates you about light?
Light is transformative. Light is powerful. It changes your mood. We take it for granted because it’s embedded in our DNA, but it controls everything.
Has a text impacted your thinking about light?
There are several, but the one that comes to mind, given the focus of our business in outdoor lighting, is Garden Lighting (1958) by F.B. Nightingale, who founded Kim Lighting. There are techniques outlined in his book that lighting designers still use today.
What makes a great piece of lighting equipment?
It depends in part on the application, but it’s one that doesn’t draw attention to itself, unless that is its purpose. Ultimately, though, the number one job of a light fixture is to turn on and emit light.
What traditions or legacies do you want both B-K Lighting and Teka Illumination to be known for?
That we are staunchly independent lighting companies that provide quality, innovation, service, and value.
What do you consider innovation in lighting?
Innovation is risk. Innovation is putting a new tool in your hands that you didn’t think you needed before.
As a business owner, are there industries outside of lighting that you look to as models of innovation for manufacturing and research?
In terms of the specifics of outdoor lighting, I look to see what’s new in the sprinkler and irrigation industries. There are a lot of affinities there—small parts that have to be embedded in earth and work on demand. From a technology standpoint, and because we are so close to Silicon Valley, I also keep an eye on new developments in user interfaces. Of course, I’m still always looking at what’s going on in the lighting industry, from new products to evolution in the sales channel.
How has the business of lighting changed during your tenure in the industry?
The technology of communication has become more complicated. People are less likely to pass along knowledge that they have acquired. Time lines are compressed. There’s no development cycle anymore. Everything is last minute with no time to properly react.
What’s the most misunderstood aspect of lighting?
Lighting isn’t cookie cutter; it isn’t a set of rules. It’s called the art of manufacturing and the art of design for a reason—and that gives us a glimpse of what’s next.