For anyone who has ever attended Light+Building in Frankfurt, Germany—the biennial trade show devoted to lighting and building-service technology—the scale of the event is impressive, and this year was no exception. According to Messe Frankfurt, the fair’s organizer, 211,500 visitors from 161 countries passed through the fairgrounds during the six-day event. International attendance was also up, with Messe Frankfurt reporting an increase in this group by three percentage points, to a total of 47 percent of overall attendees. After Germany, the best represented countries were Italy, the Netherlands, France, China, and Austria. The number of North American attendees has yet to be officially reported, but if anecdotal evidence can be believed, the number of U.S. lighting designers attending Light+Building also went up.
The increase in activity at this year’s fair is also reflected in the number of exhibitors—2,458—which is an increase of 7 percent from 2012, as well as an increase in the show’s physical size—245,000 square meters (2.6 million square feet)—which is an increase of 10,000 square meters over 2012.
Another aspect that makes Light+Building an interesting venue in which to track lighting developments is its two-year cycle. Enough change occurs during this time frame to observe a true maturation of light sources and luminaires, as well as the evolution of lighting technologies. As is the case with the industry as a whole, solid-state lighting is at the forefront of every manufacturer’s product offerings. Even legacy companies have completely retooled their product lines. But it is not just products themselves that have changed; it’s also the way that lighting is being discussed. The luminaire is no longer seen as a stand-alone object, but rather as part of a comprehensive system. Often, it is even the vehicle for facilitating coordination with other building-wide systems, such as energy management and security. This revelation is due, in large part, to advances in lighting controls and user interfaces.
Also of interest is to observe how companies that first launched products in North America then transition to reaching a global audience. Companies such as Xicato, Soraa, and Cooledge Lighting all debuted their LED modules, lamps, and light sheets in Frankfurt this year. These introductions seem to have been met with just as much success abroad as they did at home. This isn’t altogether surprising, as designers and manufacturers admit that the U.S. market is one of the more difficult ones to break into, owing to the number of established companies and supply chains, along with the UL process.
Social media also played a significant role at the show. Long a staple of global brands such as Philips, this year other companies such as Erco, iGuzzini, and Zumtobel excelled in using this platform. All of them have launched sophisticated ways of communicating with customers far beyond individual product promotion. For example, each sported new video campaigns that promoted their brand identity.
At Erco’s Twitter wall, visitors were given custom Post-it notes and asked: “What inspires you?” Their answers were then displayed on the outside wall of the stand, creating a dynamic presentation of ideas and emotions which were also posted to the company’s Twitter feed. The result was truly a global celebration of design and light, matching the experience that is Light+Building.