The past two years, Architectural Lightinghas held a series of roundtable discussions concurrent with both the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Convention and Lightfair. Sustainability in its various nuances has been the focus of the conversations. This year's dialogue centered on the sustainability of the lighting profession itself, and two principal discussion threads emerged from both roundtables. (Part One from the AIA Convention appeared in the July/August 2008 issue and Part Two from Lightfair appears here.) First was the issue of education and what the lighting community needs to do to maintain and grow the student population studying lighting design. Second was what the lighting community as a whole can do to engage a larger public audience and impart to them that: one, there is such a thing as architectural lighting design; and two, that it makes a difference in the spaces in which we live and work.
One of the specific ideas from the Lightfair discussion is the implementation of a National Lighting Week. It is a proposition that seems so obvious it is hard to imagine that such a thing does not already exist. My Google search did, however, come across a National Lightning Safety Week held June 22-28, 2008.
In the current constructs of today's world, lighting is emerging as a more regular part of a larger public conversation, particularly when it comes to energy and efficiency. The lighting industry has not been driving this discussion. This cannot continue if the lighting design community expects itself to have a future. Instead, lighting designers and manufacturers must begin to take ownership of the energy conversation as it pertains to lighting so the public knows that central to any discussion about energy efficiency is the role and value of architectural lighting design. One way to accomplish this is by establishing a National Lighting Week.
To that end, Architectural Lighting calls on all members of the lighting profession—designers, manufacturers, schools, organizations, and fellow lighting publications—to join us in promoting the idea of a National Lighting Week to be held the week of May 3, 2009, when the lighting industry will assemble in New York to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Lightfair. This seems like the opportune time to band together with a common purpose of promoting architectural lighting design through a grassroots advocacy campaign. In addition to the activities already being planned, there should be a series of programs specifically created for and open to the public, where they can hear firsthand from designers and manufacturers about the importance of lighting. Lightfair could institute a public access day, allowing a general audience to visit the tradeshow floor to see the range and diversity of products and ideas at work in the lighting industry. Exhibits showcasing the winning projects from all the major lighting design award programs—the A|L Light & Architecture Design Awards, Cooper Source Awards, GE Edison Awards, IALD International Lighting Design Awards, and IES International Illumination Design Awards, for example—could be set up on the trade show floor so the public could see the extraordinary work of lighting designers. These are but a few ideas to serve as a starting point. I know there are many more.
Establishing a National Lighting Week is a win-win situation. Architectural Lighting is here to serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas. I look forward in the coming weeks and months to hearing from you and discussing this initiative. Feel free to contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the comment function attached to this blog post online at archlighting.com. It is time to let the public know about the architectural lighting design community.
Nov/Dec 2008 Exchange Question
How do you think the 2008 U.S. presidential electionwill impact the lighting industry? To be considered forprint, responses are requested by Oct. 26, 2008.