A view of the trade-show floor at Lightfair 2011.
Courtesy Lightfair A view of the trade-show floor at Lightfair 2011.

Something was in the air in Philadelphia. Thanks, in part, to a new venue, and hope for a better economic outlook, Lightfair was buzzing. And on the trade-show floor—which opened on Tuesday, May 17—momentum had built over the two preceding days with two keynote presentations during the Daylighting Institute and Lightfair Institute courses.

Chicago architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects presented her firm's work on Sunday, May 15. Known for material investigations, the firm's recently completed 82-story Aqua Tower in Chicago has met with critical acclaim.

The second keynote (held on Monday, May 16, in conjunction with the Cooper Source Awards, see page 15) was given by Mark Major and Keith Bradshaw of Speirs + Major Associates, along with Jonathan Speirs. The trio discussed the lighting design process involved in two projects from the firm's extensive portfolio—St. Paul's Cathedral in London and the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

By Tuesday, Lightfair was ready to start. First was the presentation of the Lightfair Innovation Awards (see page 17), followed by the official opening of the trade-show floor. Although the products on display predominantly concentrated on LEDs, there were new fixtures to be seen, which is a sign that manufacturers' research and development budgets remain intact, even if heavily weighted toward solid-state lighting. It was also apparent that lighting companies had spent some time—and money—thinking about their displays. They had sophisticated presentations, and this helped to create a more cohesive look to the show floor.

Lightfair brought a greater cross-section of the design community to the show floor with the inauguration of the Spotlight Lounge. It played host to a keynote talk with designer Ingo Maurer, as well as a media panel. Maurer's talk was a highlight of the show, bringing the worlds of architecture, design, and light together. The media panel offered manufacturers and designers insight into the editorial processes of five publications: architectural lighting, LD+A, Metropolis, Architectural Record, and Electrical Contractor.

Lightfair has continued to grow and improve the experience for attendees. However, though the show has grown, its duration has not. Many commented that there is no longer enough time to see everything on the show floor and to attend seminars, especially with the addition of new keynotes and panel discussions. Lightfair should seriously consider extending the trade show to three full days. If the show's success in Philadelphia is any indication—a record 23,709 registered attendees from 75 countries, and 474 exhibitors inhabiting more than 200,000 net square feet on the show floor—I believe the industry would support the move. It is certainly something to consider.