Lighten Up

LightShow West recap: LEDs rule; lighting designers bring retail to life
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Posted December 15, 2013

“The train has left the station, folks,” proclaimed John Curran, president, LED Transformations LLC, (Stanton, N.J.) noting the acceleration in the production and adoption of LEDs and OLEDs in commercial applications.

Speaking on behalf of the Department of Energy at LightShow West, held in Los Angeles October 23-24, Curran noted the usual overwhelming predominance of LED-related exhibitors at the bi-annual tradeshow.

For retail, LED improvements (improved CRIs, dimming ability, flexible directional focus and smaller fixtures) were showcased in sparkling jewelry stores; warm, residential home furnishings stores and grocers, where less heat generation lengthens shelf life for produce and bakery items.

David Douglass, project manager, Heschong Mahone Group (Gold River, Calif.) says designers need to consider whether they should specify LED now or hold off until better and less costly options are available. Douglass says designers should ask: “What is best for the application? How much energy will be saved? How soon will the space be renovated?”

Kathy Pryzgoda, owner & principal designer, Light Studio LA (Los Angeles) made an emphatic case for tapping the expertise of a lighting designer in bringing a store’s concept to life – and certainly before the architect has completed their plans. “Lighting designers should work closely with the architect to come up with the overall look and experience of a store for the end user,” Pryzgoda said. “We put together the lighting plan and work with the electrical engineer [who creates the technical drawings] who shares plans with the distributor for product sourcing and the electrician for installation.”

Illuminated displays, lighting clouds, floating ceilings, “lighting the vertical” (lighting walls to guide one’s eyes deep into a space) – these elements and techniques are part of a lighting designer’s tool kit.  And their job doesn’t end with the plan. Lighting designers supervise installation and post-merchandising, educating store staff on how to adjust lighting as displays change.

Pryzgoda, who has designed lighting for theater and television, encourages retailers to explore lighting’s myriad options for telling their brand’s story. “It’s about putting your product on stage. Lighting can make or break a space.”