The Tobias Grau stand in Hall 3 at the Messe Frankfurt fairgrounds during Light+Building 2016.
Messe Frankfurt/PietroSutera The Tobias Grau stand in Hall 3 at the Messe Frankfurt fairgrounds during Light+Building 2016.

Light+Building, the week-long trade show (March 13-18, 2016) that takes place every two years in Frankfurt, Germany, was once again a blockbuster display on a grand scale, featuring the latest in lighting products and innovations. It was one of the busiest Light+Building gatherings in a while, a sign that the economy has rebounded since the 2008 recession. And attendance numbers released by Messe Frankfurt, the fair organizer, confirm that: 216,000 trade visitors (up from 211,232 in 2014) from 160 countries, and 2,589 exhibitors (up from 2,495 in 2014).

The Erco stand in Hall 3 at Light+Building 2016.
Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Pietro Sutera The Erco stand in Hall 3 at Light+Building 2016.

The luminaires and technologies on display reflect an industry that has, at least for the moment, caught up with the pace of technological developments. While there was nothing earth-shatteringly new on display, there was enough to entice. Manufacturers seem to be more selective in how they allocate their research and development dollars now, and that means fewer, but more thorough, product introductions.

Overall, there continues to be product maturation and a greater comfort level with LEDs, by both designers and manufacturers. This has allowed some manufacturers to enter lighting segments in which they have previously not focused—such as Zumtobel moving into outdoor lighting. This year, the company debuted not one, but two, outdoor product lines: Supersystem Outdoor and NightSight, a luminaire family designed in conjunction with architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio in Amsterdam. Read AL's Q+A with Ben van Berkel on how the NightSight collaboration came to be.

The Occhio stand in Hall 1 at Light+Building 2016.
Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Pietro Sutera The Occhio stand in Hall 1 at Light+Building 2016.

Collaborations of designers and manufacturers were in abundance. In addition to the Zumtobel–UNStudio pairing there were also collaborations between Reggiani and Speirs + Major with a new bulkhead fixture called Cells, and between lighting designer Roger Narboni and French company Technilum with a modular outdoor lighting system called Extimity.

Color discussions took a more artistic view, as evidenced by “Color Wheels,” a light art piece by designers Aleksandra Stratimirovic and Athanassios Danilof on display at Targetti’s stand. Compared to recent discussions in the U.S., TM-30 seemed less of a buzzword for the European lighting community.

Color Wheels at the start of the lighting sequence.
Germano Borrelli Color Wheels at the start of the lighting sequence.

Very few U.S. companies have historically exhibited at Light+Building. Those that do—such as San Antonio-based Lucifer Lighting, who kicked off its 2016 product launches in Frankfurt—achieve great reach with the international design community as a result.

After iGuzzini’s successful introduction of Laser Blade in 2014, it seems the entire industry has followed suit with slim-profile, recessed linear wallwashing fixtures. The company has also excelled in how it presents its products. Read our discussion with company vice president Massimiliano Guzzini about how the concept for the Light Experience came about.

With the lighting industry in flux the past few years, it was interesting to see how companies such as Philips and Osram handled their displays and their corporate messaging. During its press conference, Philips would not answer any questions regarding the sale of the lighting business. The same was true for Osram, who did not discuss the “carve-out” of its general lighting lamps business under the name Ledvance.

The entryway to the Philips stand at Light+Building 2016.
Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Pietro Sutera The entryway to the Philips stand at Light+Building 2016.

But no matter what’s new or what the latest social media trends might be, when it comes down to it, fairs like this are still, at their core, about lighting. And why is that? Because lighting designers around the globe share a universal concern: how to maintain focus on quality of light no matter technology developments and energy efficiency requirements. •

OLED Flexible Light Panels, LG Display • LG Display showcased 11 different OLED modules in varying sizes and color temperatures. To communicate the flexibility of OLEDs, the company showcased four lighting solutions: Flexible; Glass with Transparent Connection; Mirror; and Module. For the Flexible solution, the company created decorative and pendant lights (shown) using the largest available flexible OLED light panel on the market, 320mm x 320mm (17.8" diagonal). It is available in three color temperatures—2700K, 3000K, and 4000K—uses 13.6W and 15W respectively, and has a CRI of 85-plus. •

45 HC, CoeLux • CoeLux lighting systems reproduce the effect of natural sunlight in an integrated ceiling against a backdrop of a clear blue sky. On view in Frankfurt was the company’s 45 HC skylight, which features a 45-degree solar elevation angle to mimic Mediterranean lighting conditions. This virtual experience that simulates the appearance of the sun and sky through a 16.1-square-foot window is designed for a dropped ceiling, and requires a recommended area of 215 square feet for installation. The skylight itself weighs 660 pounds and the opening is 67" by 33.5". The LED source is not dimmable, uses 350W, and requires a 100V–240V input. The skylight delivers 2,000 lux at 1 meter, 1,300 lux at 2 meters, and 900 lux at 3 meters. The 45 HC is the largest optical system the company makes. •

Cells, Reggiani • Designed by Speirs + Major principal Mark Major and senior designer Benz Roos, Cells is a bulkhead LED luminaire meant for interior and exterior urban applications. “The idea,” Major said during the Frankfurt press introduction, “was to create a better quality light at a more affordable price.” Extensive research led to an optic that is inspired by the cellular eye structure of a dragonfly. To that end, the fixture comes with either a transparent or an opal diffuser. The backplate is available in multiple colors; the housing in white, graphite, raw aluminum, or gray. The luminaire can be either surface or recessed mounted as a single module or in multiples via a connector accessory. The luminaire is available in 3000K and 4000K and has a lumen package of 2,150 to 2,300. Control options include on/off, DALI, dimming 1V to 10V, phase-cut, or Bluetooth. IP66-rated and shock resistant, the fixture is also available in a three-hour emergency version. •

Track + Spots , Lucifer Lighting • One of the few U.S. companies who has continually exhibited in Frankfurt, Lucifer Lighting introduced several products, one of which is their new Track + Spots line of luminaires. The stem adapter has been integrated alongside the Spot fixture to create an easy connection between the fixture and track. Spot, just like the company’s popular Cylinder series, features an integrated driver. Installation options for both the track profiles and the spot fixture head are available in recessed or surface-mounted versions. The luminaire has a self-locking tilt mechanism that allows for 361-degree rotation, and also features field-changeable optics in 13-, 25-, 40-, and 60-degree beam spreads. Finish options are either metal black or matte white powdercoat. Available October 2016. •

Extimity, Technilum • Designed in collaboration with French lighting designer Roger Narboni, Extimity is a modular system that addresses current urban design trends and incorporates street furniture elements with smart lighting functionality to foster the creation of a nocturnal urban environment. Using adaptable technical modules to create “light spaces,” the core vertical illuminated frame measures 4 meters (13.1 feet) tall and the corner and horizontal connector pieces, which can also be illuminated, can be custom sized. Square light panels can be suspended between cable to form a “ceiling.” The company’s Smart In Site technology, which incorporates sensors and Bluetooth capabilities allows services to be incorporated, such as Wi-Fi, traffic info, security surveillance, occupancy sensors, advertising, and parking assistance. By combining smart features with a minimalist set of lighting elements, people can interact with the city via a seamless built and digital infrastructure. •