On May 5, an overflowing roomful of lighting designers, architects, lighting sales reps, interior designers, and students crossed over to the dark side. Held at Xenon Architectural Lighting's showroom in lower Manhattan, the event, titled Darknight, was hosted by Martin Lupton, president of the Professional Lighting Designers' Association (PLDA), and was a meditation on the absence of light—the lost twin of luminance. The evening was free of any black magic, but still conjured up darkness in all of its umbrageous glory. The moody atmosphere was set with a low-light installation made out of products from Xenon and designed by students at the Parsons Master of Fine Arts in Lighting Design program.
Glenn Shrum, PLDA's newly appointed coordinator in the United States, organized the program as an alternative to the evening celebrations traditionally held during Lightfair. He invited a dozen professionals to present in a Pecha Kucha–like format. Each presenter showed 10 slides, which automatically changed every 20 seconds. The diverse lineup included an international array of professionals: Lighting designers and architects participated, as well as an astronomer and an oceanographer. The mix was inspiring and surprising. Kay Bidle, a professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University, dove into water depths during his 200 seconds, shedding light on the fantastical bioluminescent sea creatures that live in total darkness.
The standing-room-only crowd sipped their drinks and observed the program, while DesignCurve principal Clifton Taylor ventured into the profound, quoting Shakespeare's Macbeth: “The instruments of darkness tell us truths.” As the slides quickly switched, the Darknight presentations formed a kind of rapid-fire poetry, neither on the technical nor the mundane, but evocative of the design process.