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Latest lighting trends

Text: Ülle Jõks
Photos: manufacturers

Every two years, lighting manufacturers gather at a convention centre in Germany to participate in the Light+Building trade fair and demonstrate the latest trends in interior and exterior lighting. Below Ülle Jõks from Hektor Light shares her impressions of the fair with us.

Manufacturers have adopted the trend of using illumination to ensure people’s welfare, since life is too short not to feel good. People are taught how and when one can control illumination by adjusting the colour temperature of ambient light. Guidance is provided for skilfully creating personal illumination around oneself.
Both apps and software created by manufacturers can be used for assistance. Using the Alexa voice command for turning luminaires on and off proved to be very exciting – using it will only make our lives more convenient.
Either the Bluetooth or Dali systems are used to control illumination, and the ZigBee system was extensively demonstrated as well.
In general, one can
see new technologies and new finishing solutions emerging, as developments make technical lighting fixtures ever more minimalist, and both narrower and thinner. Transformers and other necessary parts are hidden in masterly fashion. Thanks to smaller flush-mounting frames, lighting fixtures have wider possibilities for use. Lighting fixtures are often manufactured to be more flexible and enable better rotating. System connections are improved to be more convenient and pleasing to the eye. Light leaks from joints are eliminated. Manufacturers are developing the technical characteristics of illumination. For example, existing products are being provided with better colour rendering Ra, CRI, different beam-of-light angles than before, etc.
Attention has been paid to minimising light glare. Illumination must be comfortable for the eyes and pleasing to look at.
Materials (including glass) are becoming more scratch-resistant and have better light-diffusing properties, and you can see no finger-marks on them. LEDs are of higher quality: there is no noticeable flicker.

Forget boring lights – your lighting fixture could be invisible

The use of prismatic glass has become very popular. When turning off a light, this type of luminaire becomes transparent, seemingly non-existent (Intra Skyler). When turned on, you can see the luminaire as usual.

Triumph of sound-dampening lighting fixtures

Creating better conditions for people by using sound-dampening lighting fixtures and panels, with the purpose of guaranteeing a happier and healthier environment, has become increasingly important. This is essential in workplaces, in which we spend long hours every day. A study conducted in England showed that three out of 10 people cannot concentrate because of conversations or telephone calls or ringing phones of others present in the room (reference: Think Money Study 2015/Building in Sound, Julian Treasure).
It is also thought that removing irritating sounds could improve workers’ focusing abilities by as much as 47%. A company called BuzziSpace has created different types of light fixtures that help reduce noise and dampen sounds. Therefore be sure to use sound-dampening luminaires, as they also offer great-looking design solutions.

Nature in your room. Possible also in dark rooms

Special SmartGrow technology: a constant, autonomic ecosystem lighting fixture where plants can grow without sunlight or watering. Photosynthesis and production of chlorophyll proceed as usual in nature. The lamp is controlled via a smart phone or computer, changing the colour and intensity of the LED according to the changing daylight. This lighting fixture can also be opened when needed, for example to replace or prune the plant. This attractive lighting fixture can thus also be used in windowless rooms without natural daylight.
Lighting fixtures for lighting up plant walls. These interesting tube luminaires help keep your indoor greenery alive and attractive.

Lighting fixtures as part of an interior

Several manufacturers have started offering architectural illumination systems. The world-famous Flos is still considered to be the flagship in this field. You will also find serious development and plenty of new combination options here. And of course the lighting fixtures that are part of these illumination systems look very elegant. Other manufacturers are offering various new developments, too.

Large rings and bent winding systems

The manufacturer Intra uses Icelandic moss to dampen sound. While a room has a normal level of moisture, this remains an attractive design element.
Thanks to a special spine-like bending system, light-chain structures can also be made to wind vertically, for example from the ceiling to a wall (photo: Intra). A profile made up of polyethylene joints, cut into a plaster groove, is attached to the convex edge of the plaster. LED modules are later attached to this profile, and the profile is covered with a flexible opal glass cover. An ideal solution for curved ceiling surfaces.
Bent forms are also used for wall and floor luminaires (Luciferos). Colour range from pastels to very bright tones.

Interesting material

An interesting mix of concrete and marble together with transparent fibre-optics has been added to the product mix. This material can be used both indoors and outdoors, as both a lighting fixture and a wall (Lucem shift).
Using leather straps as a design element for luminaires also felt innovative (Quasar Stirrup/Brokis).

Easier options for controlling illumination

Illumination control is still getting plenty of attention. The Alexa voice command system proved quite popular. This is a product from Amazon, serving as a voice command control system. The user can influence certain devices via the Alexa system using special phrases the system understands. At present it is capable of turning lamps on and off, and adjusting their luminous intensity. A permanent WiFi connection and mains power are required.
ZigBee is another widely used wireless illumination control solution which was presented. In this case the energy consumption should be smaller so as to avoid affecting the WiFi signal used in the house. To control a luminaire a command is sent from a smart device to the router using WiFi signals, and is transmitted to the specific device from there. Fantastic lighting fixtures as though from space!

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