OVERWHELMING IN SHEER SIZE AND MAGNITUDE, A TRIP TO LIGHT+BUILDING DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. THE INTERNATIONAL-lighting trade fair held every other year in Frankfurt, Germany, offers something for everyone, although the principal focus is products—and lots of them. A full range of commercial and decorative luminaire offerings were displayed across 10 halls, each with at least two floors and some with a third. This year's show drew more than 165,000 visitors and 2,173 exhibitors and filled more than 2 million square feet. International attendance also was up and Messe Frankfurt, the fair's organizer reported a 40 percent increase in visitors attending from outside Germany.
For the architectural lighting designer the main areas of interest were Hall 1, which housed decorative luminaires; Forum 1, which was solely devoted to Philips Lighting; Halls 2 and 3, which showcased the premier European lighting companies such as Erco and Zumtobel; Hall 4, which focused on components and solid-state lighting; and Hall 5, which played host to outdoor luminaires.
In addition to the numerous manufacturer press conferences announcing new product offerings and company directives, the fair also featured the Lights of the Future competition, which recognizes technically and aesthetically innovative luminaires that incorporate energy-efficient lighting. From a pool of 187 submissions, 32 products were cited as outstanding and displayed in a special exhibit in Hall 4.2.
For attendees looking to take a break from products and product-related discussions, the Professional Lighting Design Association (PLDA) held its 8th International Lighting Conference, Light Focus 2008. The three-day program of 18 seminar presentations served as the lighting section for the Building Performance Congress, which was held concurrently with Light+Building. PLDA also served as host for “A Celebration of Light,” one of the many evening events held during the course of the six-day fair. The old Bockenheimer train depot with an extraordinary wooden truss system served as a party venue and backdrop for a presentation entitled “The World of Film.”
But the main evening program was the signature lighting festival known as Luminale. Each night during the course of the fair, building façades and interior and exterior spaces throughout Frankfurt and the surrounding Rhine-Main area were illuminated by lighting designers, architects, and lighting artists. More than 220 lighting events drew 100,000 visitors.
One noticeable difference between Light+Building and trade shows in the United States is the way in which sustainability and energy efficiency are addressed. These days, one cannot visit a U.S. trade show without being fully aware of a manufacturer's “green” message. At Light+Building, the sustainable discussion occurred more subtly. Philips Lighting was one of the few manufacturers that promoted its sustainable message throughout its hall. German lighting manufacturer Trilux was another company advocating a message, but the banners located throughout the fair with provoking statements such as, “Who says that you have to teach people to use energy more wisely?” and “Are you an environmental sinner when you turn on the light?” left this editor confused as to which side of the sustainable discussion Trilux was promoting.
Light+Building is an extraordinary showcase for all things related to lighting. It is an expensive endeavor given the current dollar/euro exchange rates, but a must-visit venue at least once in a lighting designer's career.