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SSlObserved:

By Kevin Willmorth

Lighting Events— Are We Reaching the Point of Over Saturation? Lightfair was a blow-out success— a real explosion of new displays and attendees vs marketing farf. It certainly shows manufacturers are feeling more confident—and could lead to even more regional events— but is there that much added value being produced?

Hannover Lighting show, now Light+Build. I was

every one presented as though they were the

sure I was going to die by the time I got through

leader of the pack, while the similarities between

that monster. My feet were so sore they went

them were muddied by the overwhelming vol-

numb. At the end of five days I was no longer able

ume of them.

to comprehend language that did not include ref-

In the midst of this were some interesting

erence to lumens or light in some way. I was lost

new things worth spending time on, amongst a

in a sea of light, people, massive displays, and

large number of component displays. This was

building after building of new names and faces,

also the year of very large displays—well beyond

on top of jet lag and hangovers from late night

what was the norm just a few years ago. There

beers and thick German food. It was great.

were tacky brand show-cities everywhere, all

The activities in lighting presentations have expanded exponentially over the 30 years since

white and glary. If the shows are any indication of an

Between Lightfair, Light+Build, Strategies in

that first Light World visit. From the growth of

economic recovery, we should be enjoying a

Light, LEDs, the LED Show, the DOE Confer-

regional events in the 1990s, to the explosion of

Renaissance period of massive proportions. More

ences, and literally dozens of other regional and

SSL focused events of the last seven years—while

likely, the presence was a sign that manufactur-

nationally focused events, it’s hard not to feel a

both Lightfair and Light+Build have ballooned

ers are feeling more hopeful now than they have

bit worn out. It’s not like each of the events was

continuously—it’s all become a bit incomprehen-

in the last few years, which is good. The problem

presenting new and critical information. In fact,

sible. In 2010, I was literally out of the office at

is, if this expands in the form of even more local,

after a while, they all start to feel like going to the

some conference, show or activity every month

regional, and expanded national shows, is there

mall—every mall and every store inside carrying

of the year—sometimes two in one trip—totaling

that much new value being produced? Is there

the same products, all pumped up and presented

thousands in expenses and hundreds of hours of

that much disposable expense money in the pock-

under bright banners and smiling enthusiastic

time. In 2011 I took a less aggressive approach,

ets of decision makers to attend these events?

sales people. It’s like having nothing but your

and still felt weathered by it.

favorite meal every day of the week. Even the

Lightfair, this year, was a real blowout suc-

One idea came to me while sipping my halfflat $12 soft drink to wash down my dry and taste-

best spread of tender cuts surrounded by fresh

cess. This was not the typical hyped-up market-

less $24 shrink-wrapped sandwich as I looked

greens gets old with enough repetition.

ing farf of years past, it was a real explosion in

across the sea of signs and bodies milling about.

displays and attendance. One of the reasons for

Perhaps there is a bigger business than lighting

World 2—or 3, I can’t actually remember. I took

this was the explosion of new SSL displays from

after all—building show displays for enthusiastic

away so many tons of literature, business cards,

new manufacturers. Another notable change

and marketing trinkets I had to buy a suitcase

was the height of displays and the proliferation

lighting manufacturers.•

at the hotel gift shop and check two bags in. I

of hanging banners and signs. This was the cir-

walked every aisle, every inch, for what seemed

cus of circuses, easily the largest ever to date. It

like miles of exhibits. Shortly after this experi-

was also withering. There were simply too many

ence, I landed in Hannover, Germany for my first

LED retrofit lamp displays to absorb. Each and

I remember my first lighting show, Light

48 • 06.12 • ArchitecturAl SSL

about the author:

Kevin Willmorth, a lighting expert and fixture designer, has been instrumental in helping create a vision and mission statement for Architectural SSL.

www.architecturalssl.com