Spotlighting greater efficiency
von Juliane Grützner | Apr 24, 2012

LED technology is one of the major defining factors for the future viability of new lighting in commercial, interior and exterior settings. And this was certainly manifest in the innovations to be seen at the lighting trade fair Light+Building, held in Frankfurt/Main. Only thanks to their long product-life do these energy-saving illuminants represent an interesting, economical alternative for the consumer. In addition, users also expect LED lamps to provide even color rendering, perfect glare control of the light dots from the LED head as well as doing away with the over-heated bulbs of the past. Manufacturers have put a lot of work into advancing and developing these and other technical details and have definitely tried to integrate them into their new lighting designs.

Clever mechanics, sensors and reflectors

Architect Dietrich F. Brennenstuhl, owner of Nimbus, is among those manufacturers who have been working with LED technology for quite some time now. In Frankfurt, he presented the minimalist "Roxxane" table lights, the brainchild of Berlin designer Rupert Kopp. Three delicately calibrated friction hinges enable the user to set the aluminum light in place at a number of different positions. "Roxxane" incorporates branchiae into the lamp's head, which although barely visible function to direct the warmth radiated from the lamp head outwards. This not only prevents the diodes from overheating but also extends the product life. The lamp is turned on and off with a sweep of a hand across the sensor on the lamp head, while holding a hand over the sensor activates the lamp's dimming function.

With Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa's "Verto" luminaire, Belux take a close look at concepts surrounding light control, and thus developed a floor lamp that provides both direct and indirect light. The LEDs installed in the stem of the lamp direct light onto a convex reflector, which is positioned diagonally above the diodes and directs the light, projecting it into the room without producing glare. This means that two workstations can be fully illuminated while consuming just 80 watts of energy. The product series is rounded off with table and wall-mounted lamps.

When held in hand, the head of Michel Charlot's "U-Turn" luminaire created for Belux, feels like a large ice-hockey puck; that is when it's not positioned on the magnetic ball joint, which holds it in place and enables the user to set the lamp to the desired position, and direct the light where they need it.

The reverse of the head, developed using aluminum pressure casting, has a total of over 18 uniformly-sized hollows, which look like impressions left by a ball and thus continue the formal language of the luminaire's joint. The LED lamp is dimmable and can be adjusted from a warm through to a cool glow.

Among the innovative products presented by Hamburg-based lighting designer Tobias Grau in Frankfurt was his "Falling Leaf" pendant lamp, which is made using aluminum and matt plastic and, thanks to the optic lens which radiates a warm, white, LED light, without glare, is an idea guaranteed to deliver particularly interesting display solutions.

Axel Meise designed the "Io 3D" modular luminaire for lighting manufacturer Occhio. Its spherical head means that it can be moved in all directions, while Meise's design gives the user the choice of either installing the luminaire as a direct ceiling pendant, or suspended from, or rather balanced upon a flat, angled metal strip. There are "grip pads" on the left and right side of the ball, which are changeable and protect the user's hands from any heat generated by the lamp. The luminaire is controlled without direct contact but by means of a sensor integrated into the luminaire's head itself. The lens is fixed magnetically and can be alternated using a removable color filter. The LED chip is likewise replaceable.

The "Counterbalance" wall luminaire designed by Norwegian up-and-comer Danial Rybakken for Italian label Luceplan (which like Modular Lighting is also part of the Philips Group) is suspended from an extended arm. Although the luminaire's head is significantly weightier than the arm, to which it is attached, it is held in place by a cogwheel supporting structure and can be panned on a horizontal axis to illuminate any part of the room.

"Zak Zarak" is the name of the new composite-aluminum table luminaire developed by Lutz Pankow together with lighting designer Ingo Maurer. The prototype mainly consists of metal strips which owing the material's soft core can be easily folded. When straightening and lowering the table lamp the metal strips, which are aligned alongside one another, are held in place by magnets. The design thus renders springs and hook superfluous.

Smocking, cutting and dressing old products in a in a new guise

Manufacturers such as Serien Lighting, Arturo Àlvarez, and Fontana Arte presented lampshade designs using materials such as silk, silicon and polypropylene, which flood the living space with warm light. When creating their floor lamp "Gentle" for Serien Lighting, Christina Lobermeyer and Katharina Merl used a smocking technique to gather widths of wild silk forming a lampshade that projects light both up and downwards and can even be removed for cleaning.

Spanish lighting manufacturer Arturo Àlvarez has now extended his collection of silicon luminaires, commissioning A-Cero architects (Joaquín Torres and Rafael Llamazares) to design the floor lamp "Spline", which occupies the room like a sculpture, filling it with indirect light. In "Tina" the lighting element is concealed among a wild bush of long polypropylene strands, which are cut to shape by the user himself, and can thus be adapted to suit his individual needs and taste.

On occasion of the company's 80th anniversary, lighting manufacturer Fontana Arte has brought a series of classics back to life. "Mano" (1932) and "Corteccia" (1937) by Pietro Chiesa, "Ashanghai" (1955) by Max Ingrand as well as their own in-house creation "Pangen" (1961). As part of a limited edition series, Fontana Arte presents lampshades boasting unusual variations in materials, designed by artist Paolo Facchinelli. He took fabric from manufacturer "La Fabbrica Lenta" (literally translated: the slow factory) created using an old weaving technique and treated the textile using transparent and colored resins. While protecting the product from dirt, this technique also creates colorful accents.

Very much in line with the founder Gio Ponti's philosophy, Fontana Arte maintains a network of contacts with established national and international architects and designers, but also opens the door for newcomers such as Swedish designer Johan Lindstén, who developed the "Gravity" arc lamp this year. Indentations run along the entire length of the luminaire's white metal stem, through which a red cable is threaded from the foot of the lamp to the head.

Shapes, shadows and interior design

In Japanese "IN-EI" means shadow and this is also the name of the new paper lamp designed for Artemide by fashion designer Issey Miyake and his research laboratory, Reality Lab. The material is made of 40% recycled PET bottles and in line with precise mathematical formulae is folded to create an origami-like light sculptures. The range includes pendant, table and floor lamps, each of them unique in their form, project distinct shadows within the room. All of the lamps are fitted with LEDs. The formal language of these pieces brings the "Akari" paper lamps to mind, created in the 1950s by Japanese designer Isamu Noguchi.

Another luminaire, whose magnetic skin is designed to offer greater flexibility, is "Ipparco", created for Artemide by Scottish designer Neil Poulton. A "light ring" held by a magnetic joint can be moved up and down the aluminum rod that is the luminaire's stem and can be fixed at any point the user desires. "Ipparco" can also be rotated 360 degrees on both a vertical and horizontal axis.

A silver reverse and opal-white diffuser – at first glance, the round wall and ceiling light "Silverback" by Danish lighting manufacturer Louis Poulsen looks like many another timeless luminaires. However, the Copenhagen-based design group Kibisi (whose members include Jens Martin Skibsted, Lars Larsen and Bjarke Ingels) has fitted it out with a rather special feature: The silver reverse is curved in such a way that it reflects the structure of the wall or ceiling from which it hangs, and thus appears to merge into it. Furthermore, "Silverback" adorns wall and ceiling surfaces with a gleam that envelopes them like the moon's halo. When determining the optimal curvature for the shell in relation to the flat wall and ceiling, the designers looked to water droplets on an even surface for inspiration.

Commissioned by Zumtobel, designers from Delugan Meissl Architects considered the effect of light and shadow when creating a new LED spotlight for use in a retail setting. "Iyon" serves to create light and dark areas, in which (according to the manufacturer's own research) customers tend to frequent more than others. For cases of malfunction or emergency, the Dornbirn-based lighting specialist has also developed a series of emergency lighting in collaboration with Austrian design agency Eoos. "Onlite Resclite", "Onlite Comsign 150", "Onlite Puresign 150" and "Onlite Crossign 160" are rescue and safety lights which mark out escape routes in case of emergency.

Street and garden lighting

Manufacturers such as IP44 and iGuzzini have busied themselves creating concepts for energy-saving outdoor lighting. In Frankfurt IP44, the Rheda-Wiedenbrück-based specialist in exterior lighting, presented the "Base IvyLighT" which has already been honored with the red dot design award 2012. The recessed floor luminaire consists of a frameless housing with black backprinted glass, which is lowered into the floor. Surrounded by a rectangular, laser-cut aluminum frame, these outdoor luminaires are provided with the necessary reflective surface to give the impression of light sculptures. This version is called "Base Poller".

"Wow" is a street lamp by the Piano Design office and commissioned by Italian manufacturer iGuzzini; it can be fitted to a post-top mount or an overhanging arm. The LED luminaire head boasts particularly efficient illuminants, which use 26% less energy as previous LEDs. But the product's luminosity is great enough to allow planners to increase the distance between individual masts on the street or in public spaces, thus requiring less street lamps overall. At the end of its product life, the entire luminaire head can be replaced with a more technically advanced model.

As well as highlighting the efforts to produce more efficient LED technology, this trip through the trade fair halls at Light+Building also demonstrated that requirements in terms of both materials and the light source's function within the room or space it is destined for are constantly on the up.

“Counterbalance” by Daniel Rybakken for Luceplan, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
“Falling Leaf” by Tobias Grau, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
“Pangen” is a re-edition of the Fontana Arte dating from 1961, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
Lamp shades designed by artist Paolo Facchinelli for Fontana Arte, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
Spotlight system “Iyon” by Delugan Meissl Architects for Zumtobel, photo © Zumtobel
“Corteccia” by Pietro Chiesa for Fontana Arte is a reedition dating from 1937, photo © Fontana Arte
“Gravity” by Johan Lindstén for Fontana Arte, photo © Fontana Arte
“Mano” by Pietro Chiesa for Fontana Arte is a re-edition dating from 1932, photo © Fontana Arte
Outside light “Base Ivy Light” by Sebastian David Büscher for IP44, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
“Zak Zarak” by Lutz Pankow and Ingo Maurer, photo © Tom Vack
Table lamp “Roxxane” by Rupert Kopp for Nimbus, photo © Nimbus
Emergency light “Onlite Crossign 160” by Eoos für Zumtobel, photo © Zumtobel
Pendant lamp “In-Ei” by Issey Miyake for Artemide, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
Standard lamp “In-Ei” by Issey Miyake for Artemide, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
The shape and structure of Issey Miyake’s “IN-Ei” for Artemide is derived from origami, photo © Artemide
“Verto” by Naoto Fukasawa for Belux, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
Table lamp “U-Turn” by Michel Charlot for Belux, photo © Belux
“Spline” by A-Cero for Arturo Álvarez, photo © Arturo Álvarez
“Tina” is an in-house design by Arturo Álvarez, photo © Arturo Álvarez
“Ashanghai” by Max Ingrand for Fontana Arte is a re-edition dating from 1955, photo © Fontana Arte
“Io 3D” by Axel Meise for Occhio, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
“Ipparco” by Neil Poulton for Artemide, photo © Artemide
“Gentle“ by Christina Lobermeyer and Katharina Merl for Serien Lighting, photo © Serien Lighting
“Wow“ by Renzo Piano for iGuzzini, photo © iGuzzini