light relief

It would seem that I am distinguished – by my internet user profile – as a man of a certain age. My validation for this is that, a few months ago, I was generally minding my own business on the world-wide-web, when my attention was distracted by a banner-ad for incontinence products. After I laughed I got offended. Once I had recovered from that without incident, my summation was that assumptions (and wrong ones at that) from harvested data, had been drawn…

So I got thinking about the future., but not about leaks; about Li-Fi, and about the Internet of Things; about how these technologies are going to provide better building services infrastructures, whilst operating as data harvesters at the same time.

The thing is, I don’t have the millennial spirit, as I still think that some things are my business and nobody elses. 60% of Millennials, on the other hand, are willing to share personal information with retail brands. And that’s before marketing incentives are offered to do so…

But what is particularly resonant to marketers is that The Millennial shopper expects a personalized marketing plan, a connection with brand, a product that has value, and ultimately an enhanced shopping experience. “The key to mining that precious data isn’t in the raw data itself, but crafting it into a tailored, meaningful and engaging message for the Millennial consumer,” says Mintel Retail Category Manager Fiona O’Donnell.

Exciting times are ahead therefore for lighting systems within bricks-and-mortar retail environments. It is no surprise to read the report in Lux magazine last week that technology consultants to Starbucks and Walmart are exploring the development of tailored marketing solutions.

The integration of detection technology tracking spacial movement combined with clever projection technology that delivers information through light is with us, and it’s an engaging experience. Developed by London-based company Projection Artworks, DisplayMapper combines daylight-visible projections with 3D mapping software to allow for products to be showcased in an eye-catching, interactive way.

The next stage is for lighting systems to enable communication with users smartphones (for users willing to allow it) and generate bespoke experiences specific to precise locations within architecture, and for the needs or aspirations of the user.


match report: an incandescent first game

Botley Boys and Girls, with their new kit and sponsor, (that’s us) started the new season passionately. The team worked hard from the whistle, passing and positioning well, and were 3-1 up at half time. As the game progressed the team tired, conceding two goals in the second half from an ascendant opposition. Final score was a solid 3-3 draw.

wall lights like you’ve never seen before

There now exists an LED light engine for virtually all previous incarnations of the lightbulb . And the perfect colour rendition that is an inherent and universally exclusive property of a burning black body, i.e the sun and a tungsten halogen lamp – which has for a long time been the holy grail of LED research and development – is being replicated with emerging technologies to the point that it is hard even the trained eye to distinguish.

But it is always exciting to come across organisations that push the boundaries of alternative lighting developments, as it is in this sector that arguably more exciting progress can be made particularly with respect to how light physically integrates within architectural surfaces.

Brad Koerner, of Philips Lighting predicted some years ago that there would be a paradigm shift in the way lighting designers will approach the application of light as a result of technical development within the lighting industry, and the change is underway.


Jonas Samson made some exciting ground some years ago with an illuminated wallpaper concept. Now MeyStyle, in collaboration with LG, have developed an OLED wallpaper product, to be exhibited at Maison & Objet, Paris 8-12 September 2017 and Decorex, London 17-20 September 2017.

Other interesting developments are coming from Future Illuminations, as they have developed an electroluminescent light-source that can be incorporated into fabrics. Their laser powered light-wire is of interest too…

OK, so this might not be a replacement for a conventional source of light, but it’s good, and we will be on the lookout for creative architectural applications of this in our projects

Lighting for an ageing population

In an age of sustainability, lighting efficiency remains firmly on the agenda. Legislation and funding initiatives are steering our living and working environments in the way of  brand new LED lighting systems and retro-fit lighting refurbishments. There is also a movement, by design (but sometimes otherwise),  to reduce ambient lighting levels on the high-street, in hotels and our homes and places of work. All in an effort to slow down the spinning meter. But is this healthy for everyone? A recent study sponsored by Xicato [the age old question] and published in Mondo Arc recently, concludes that brightness is more important to ageing eyes than colour quality in discerning detail. Factor in population ageing as a demographic certainty and the study findings resonate, particularly for retail and hospitality projects. A GE article published last month identified future trends within the hotel sector; and meeting the needs of a wealthy but ageing customer base was one of them.

Image courtesy of Marriott Renaissance Mumbai

Image courtesy of Marriott Renaissance Mumbai

An architectural lighting designer’s aspiration is always to enhance the mood of a space; often with darkness as well as light. Of course, it’s vital to deliver sufficient lighting for task, and efficiently, but i think contrast is the key. Accent lighting should be used to frame, highlight and orientate. If the use of the space allows it and general light levels can be reduced, the perceived brightness of a lit object or surface is enhanced. The heightened contrast generates visual drama for everyone’s pleasure, to boot.

Lighting designers want great lighting tools too, so it’s really exciting to discover Xicato’s Vibrant LED lighting module.  It is designed to render bright and striking blues, reds and whites. It has been engineered outside of the parameters of the blackbody curve, which has become the long established benchmark for rendering colour until now, and is known to no longer be absolute in defining the performance of LED lighting. No doubt other over-40’s (as I am one) will think it most excellent too. Well done Xicato.

Video-conferencing in the right light

At time of writing the Olympic torch is at the North Pole on its 65,000 km journey around Russia, due to reach Sochi early February for the opening of the winter games. No doubt there were just a handful of supporting spectators on this leg of the journey… thank goodness we have the technology that allows us to witness the experience from the comfort of our front room.

This technology has made the world so much more accessible, not only in terms of witnessing these kinds of events but also in meeting and interacting with people. Now we can conduct business in a virtual meeting environment – one participant in the study on his or her yacht in the Bahamas, the other in a hotel video conference suite in Qatar, for instance.  And there is no need for the participants to actually shake hands.


But in this situation visual impressions are all the more critical, and it is important to get the environment right so the camera portrays the subject in the best light. Lighting systems are key to controlling light intensity and colour temperature balance in hotel conference suites as well as yacht owners’ studies’ alike.  Care should also be taken in the selection of internal finishes so that optimum image quality is registered on the lens.  Use of a good lighting designer is the best way forward with this…

I look forward to seeing the torch on the international space station from the bath.

[Image courtesy of Charterworld and Vicem.]

Steampunk dining – and not an LED lamp in sight

I have got used to mediocre dining-out experiences since moving away from London. So its always a joy to discover a new one that is on par with the very best. Micatto in Warwick is right up there. The window at night in the Market Place is captivating, sneeking a glimpse through the window graphics, the steampunk interior is like an animated zoetrope lantern. You have to go in. micatto-restaurant-warwick-2 Nothing in the way of energy efficient LED lighting in here, but why would you?… The amber hue of the birdcage lamps and lightboxes embodies the warmth and temperament of the chef and waiters. The open kitchen turns out astonishingly delicious food from an Italian menu that is delivered to your table with the sort of plucky charm you would expect in Florence. This really is a gem.

Apple docks and home automation

We have to admit that Apple produce masterfully designed products on the inside as well as on the outside, and its no surprise that half of the US and UK population have at least one apple product; 30% in continental Europe. To maintain market position Apple continue to innovate, and half of us are hungry for it, but it’s not without the usual frustration when it comes to upgrading all our peripherals to suit the latest fruity docking device. Where ipads are used as a control interface for home automation, the situation is compounded.. One of the aims of a Lighting / AV consultant is to provide future-proof control, so its frustrating when the aforementioned innovator makes these kind of hardware mods.


At the time of writing we are on Lightning connectivity.  There is speculation that iphone6 will incorporate a wireless port (similar to the Nokia Lumia).  Could this possibly mean we won’t need to buy anymore Apple authorized accessories? Well.. you know Apple…

Retrofit LED: sailing close to the wind

I was very sorry to hear the unfortunate news from Benetti Shipyard in August about a fire on-board one of their fine yachts…

An electricity spike was the probable cause, and when it’s a lightning strike there is not much that one can do to prevent it.  I hope that Benetti can make good of it. I suspect that MY Seafaris that caught fire earlier this month is scrap. That’s tough.

It goes without saying – potential hazards where electricity, water and fuel are in abundance are always best avoided. Whilst LED lighting promises sustainable and hassle free illumination, there remain issues with quality, particularly on retrofit LED lamps that are being offered to replace the tungsten halogen lightsource that we know and love. There have been several recalls in 2013 on leading brand products that have had overheating issues or electrical leakage, and this should ring alarm bells.

There are clear advantages in using retrofit lamps, particularly mains dimmable ones that do not need a remote power supply hidden away in an electrical cabinet or ceiling void somewhere… this space is precious, right? But we must remind ourselves that this technology is still relatively new, and thermal control of the LED chip is critical. Even if there is not a catastrophic event, early failures of the lamps could inadvertently scuttle the low energy, low maintenance lighting scheme that was promised.

So the advice is choose retrofit LED lamps cautiously or – better still – use a quality engineered LED lightsource. Get in touch if you want to discuss led lighting for your project.