Thoughts and Reactions to Lightfair 2011

Lightfair 2011 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center

Last Wednesday, Aura spent the day wandering the aisles of Lightfair International, housed for the first time at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, and we came away both amazed and somewhat disappointed. Apologies in advance for the lack of visual evidence, but they aren’t too keen on us taking pictures.

First off, many of the new developments in LED technology are fantastic and we cannot wait for them to come over to the consumer side of the market. Innovative companies are creating incredible new lighting solutions that take the idea of eco-friendliness beyond energy savings by utilizing the power infrastructure that many already have in place. Others still are creating fantastic new lighting technologies that are bound to spice up the worlds of retail and hospitality design while saving their owners a great deal on their electricity bills. Residential fixtures were represented as well, including some wildly fresh ideas for outdoor lighting and some extremely elegant and advanced interior fixtures. Of course, not every product was a home run, but in general, it seems like the industry is moving in a more responsible, much more visually interesting direction.

Much like the product spread, the trade show itself was a mix of the really good and the really quite bad… Some of the major players like Phillips and LG have set the bar pretty high for booth design and construction, and while many smaller companies are doing their best to give them a run for their money, it’s clear that a great deal of the exhibitors have chosen to avoid playing the game all together. We have a very healthy respect for small startups trying their hardest to put their product into the spotlight, but it’s not easy to take them seriously when their folding table and foam core posters are sitting adjacent a two-level, wood floored booth nicer than most people’s homes. Check out our full article on perceived vs. actual quality to understand why at some point, it doesn’t even matter how good these small company’s products are, they aren’t going anywhere without some serious effort put into their brand experiences.

It was also quite interesting to see the emergence of a Lightfair aesthetic. Slowly but surely, nearly every large booth has gravitated toward white structures with rounded edges. Whether this is because of a lack of creativity on the part of the designers, or some attempt at riding the coattails of the trend’s originators is unclear, but there were very few quality exhibits that had not adopted this stylistic language. One notable exception was the presence of two-story London bus that had been wrapped in the Union Jack by ACDC Lighting, to whom we say… Bravo.

All in all, Lightfair was a great experience, and we look forward to going back next year. Thank you to all the vendors who took the time to explain their products to us and we look forward to seeing what you come up with in the future.

Were you at Lightfair? What did you think of it?

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