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Exploring Sustainable Lighting Design Through Experiential Lighting Installations

Immersive Lighting Experiences

LightFair 2023 attendees were treated to multisensory lighting installations and experiences demonstrating creative possibilities around sustainable lighting design.

Hosted at the Javits Center, New York, this edition of LightFair debuted several new programs – key among them were the IALD Immersive Lighting Installations.

Innovative. Cool. Interesting… were some of the words attendees used to describe the seven installations showcased around the show floor.

IALD Immersive Lighting Installations – Pushing the Envelope on Circular Economy

The idea for presenting experiential installations on the show floor came about during our conversations with our partners and co-owners, and was proposed by our advisors at the IALD.

The Selection

LightFair sent out a call for manufacturers interested in participating in this collaborative feature. The theme provided was Circular Economy. Seven manufacturers were chosen based on the conceptual clarity and vision reflected in their pitches. Each of these seven manufacturers were then paired with hand-selected lighting design firms. Project checkpoints and timelines were communicated.

The Teams

An IALD panel paired each of the seven brands with a New York-based lighting designer/lighting design team. Project plans and design styles were considered when making the pairings. The seven selected designer and brand pairs for 2023 were:
1. Brian Stacy, ARUP Lighting Design with Casambi
2. David Ghatan, CM Kling Dynamic Architectural Lighting Design with Boca Flasher
3. Teal Brogden, HLB Lighting Design with Lumenpulse
4. Carla Ross Allen, Fisher Marantz Stone with Focal Point Lights
5. Suzan Tillotson, Tillotson Design Associates with Traxon e:cue
6. Emad Hasan, The Lighting Practice with Cooledge Lighting
7. Jack Bailey, One Lux Studio with Experience Brands

LightFair teammates got to sit in on the collaborative sessions between manufacturer-design firm teams in the weeks leading up to the 2023 show, and we came away awe-inspired by the energy, enthusiasm and passion each team brought to the theme and project. After months of ideation, conceptualization, planning, collaboration, the IALD Immersive Lighting Installations came alive on the show floor at LightFair 2023. Each designer and manufacturer pair created unique installations in 400 square feet of exhibit space in locations across the show floor.

The effect was electrifying.

Each ILI took attendees through an experiential journey using unique applications and installations of lighting products, brought to life by each exhibitor/designer pair’s original designs.

The debut feature captured attendees’ attention, engaged them in the multi-sensory, experiential ways we had hoped they would and delivered exactly the results we had hoped for…and more.

Each installation was unique in conception and execution while conveying the Circular Economy and sustainability theme. The installations were intriguing and impactful. A panel of judges from IALD assessed all seven installations for conceptual clarity, collaborative presentation and thematic execution on the opening day of the Trade Show, May 23. One team/installation was selected as Best Overall. We’re just glad we were not in the judges’ shoes – the decision could not have been easy.

The seven teams presented their concepts in the IALD Designery. It was inspiring to see how each team had gone the extra mile to collaborate both internally and with their matched-up partner team to deliver sustainable lighting design solutions at every step and in every detail.

From the materials chosen to the way each piece came together, the efforts to reduce, reuse, repurpose were evident. The designs were thoughtful and minimalistic in construction yet sophisticated and spectacular in visual presentation.

In case you missed attending and experiencing the installations, get a summary of what each represented below.

Also read:
LightFair 2023 Show Highlights
7 Things to Do After Attending LightFair

Immersive Lighting Installations Tillotson Design Traxon e:cue

Seeds of Light | Winner of Best Overall Immersive Lighting Installation

Design Firm: Tillotson Design | Lead Designer: Erin Dreyfous
Exhibiting Manufacturer: Traxon e:cue | Project Lead: Cy Eaton

The teams at Tillotson Design Associates and Traxon e:cue care deeply about the environment and the impact our work may have. Sustainability is at the forefront of our exhibition design – not just in resourceful efficiencies but also in maximizing meaning with restraint.

This lighting installation is constructed around the skeletal framework of a traditional greenhouse. Traxon’s innovative fixtures and mounting systems integrate light with the structure. A mirror is positioned as the walking surface to allow for maximal impact while using only half of the actual resources and materials. The installation forms a tunnel in recognition of the overarching theme of a “Circular Economy”. Visitors are invited to engage and interact with the piece by walking through and observing from both internal and external vantage points. Recyclable paper funnels are manipulated to create a topography of plant-like forms embedded within the luminous mesh, revealing each “seed” of light as one walks around the installation. Uniquely tailored programming of the media lighting system enhances the concept of cyclical life and vegetation as the “Seeds of Light” germinate, bloom, nourish, and reconnect us to the Earth.

To ensure that the installation has a life beyond this premiere, the team has taken great care in utilizing materials that are durable yet efficient – all components are easily collapsed, packaged, and shipped for future destinations where the Seeds of Light may crop up.

Immersive Lighting Installations Arup, Casambi

Less, Please 

Design Firm: Arup | Lead Designer: Brian Stacy
Exhibiting Manufacturer: Casambi in collaboration with Erco | Project Leads: Mark McClear (Casambi), Brad Koehler (Erco)

Less, Please explores CE strategy R2 – Reduce. A tremendous opportunity exists for manufacturers and lighting designers to transform how lighting is fabricated and used within the built environment and to do more by using less – less energy, fewer materials, lower illuminance levels, and reduced light pollution.

Less, Please explores the cascading effect of a single designer choosing less.  As designers, we need to work collaboratively to reduce exterior illumination in cities. Brightness is perceived within the context of its environment. Over-illuminating one building can lead to neighboring buildings over-illuminating as well. Reducing illumination can have the same effect.

By reducing light pollution, we set the scene for sensitive yet theatrical illumination of architectural elements in a darker landscape, minimizing energy consumption, material usage and cost. By reducing light pollution, we support natural processes and leave room for nature to thrive.
A circular economy is defined as a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible.

Less, Please uses Casambi wireless controls, reducing the amount of wires, products, and hubs needed to complete an installation. Furthermore, the installation uses only materials borrowed, reused, or salvaged.
We call on our fellow designers and manufacturers to strive for less, please.

Net Transformation

Design Firm: CM Kling + Associates | Lead Designer: David Ghatan
Exhibiting Manufacturer: Boca Lighting | Controls | Project Lead: David Urban

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation refers to circular economies as a way “to transform our throwaway economy into one where waste is eliminated, resources are circulated, and nature is regenerated.” This got us thinking – how can we embody these principles visually? The key is transformation. By focusing on taking material out of the waste stream and transforming it into something beautiful, we’re not only doing our part to re-circulate resources, but giving the participants in our installation something to think about. We all recycle our plastic bottles, but we can take it further. What can we do to make the most of what we’re already using?

The basic building blocks of our installation are made of repurposed materials that would have otherwise been disposed of, and those materials will be recycled at the conclusion of the show to keep the cycle going. But there are other ways to recycle – some of the materials will be donated to local materials banks to be turned into art or other new construction, while some will serve a more utilitarian purpose in a rep’s sample case.

Regardless of where they end up, it all has one theme – none of it goes into a landfill. Everything can be transformed into something more.

Immersive Lighting Experiences HLB Lighting Design Lumenpulse


Design Firm: HLB Lighting Design | Lead Designer: Teal Brogden
Exhibiting Manufacturer: Lumenpulse | Project Lead: Marie-Pier Jodoin

Renewal welcomes visitors into a regenerative space to center their focus and escape from the chaos of the modern environment. At its heart, Renewal stands as a metaphor for the duality of Nature, an ode to the unique and intrinsically human way society reflects and interacts with the world around us. Just as the circular economy seeks to regenerate Mother Nature, Renewal seeks to help regenerate Human Nature. These worthy goals require purposeful design and depend heavily on reimagining the possibilities in the discarded, the obsolete, and the worn. By relying on repurposed and recycled materials, Renewal sets out to create a transformative, evocative, and ever-changing artistic experience not unlike the ever-changing patterns of renewal found in Nature itself. Each individual component, from the CDs to the refurbished luminaire accessories, to the fishing wire, to the construction materials of the booth itself, have been thoughtfully selected specifically because they are being reused. None of the material is being damaged or manipulated so that it can be repurposed or recycled after the installation.

The splay of reflective light from the levitating disk of recycled CDs and reusable luminaire accessory holders creates not only a beautiful, immersive environment but symbolizes the renewal of the material itself by redefining it in a way that is constantly changing and evolving, never allowing them to be discarded or touch the ground.

The use of CDs is not only an example of repurposing an obsolete technology to accomplish a new and restorative task, but it pays homage to music’s critical role in the continual regeneration of the human spirit. Furthermore, the CDs selected for the installation were provided by employees from HLB and Lumenpulse and represent a collective contribution, a beautiful example of ownership and engagement.

IALD Experiential Lighting FMS Focal Point

The Image Left, Behind

Design Firm: Fisher Marantz Stone | Lead Designer: Carla Ross Allen
Exhibiting Manufacturer: Focal Point | Project Lead: Stephanie Goudreau

View the Immersive Lighting Installation in Action

We invite you to enter a reflective and immersive place to look at the unlimited possibilities of a single action that creates a dazzling sensation of never-ending space. Experience a shift in visual and spatial perception amplified by the play of color and light reflected infinitely. Walk away with a piece of the installation made of 100% recyclable production waste and repurpose it for your use. Return to watch the exhibit transform through public interaction over the three days of Lightfair 2023. Collectively ponder and participate in an initiative that eliminates waste by reusing recycled material and supports the Circular Economy.

In the end, only the image is left behind. Every component of the immersive experience will be repurposed or recycled following the event.

IALD Experiential Lighting Installations Cooledge Lighting The Lighting Practice

Out of the (Light) Box

Design Firm: The Lighting Practice | Lead Designer: Emad Hasan
Exhibiting Manufacturer: Cooledge Lighting | Project Lead: Grant Harlow

The installation creates a captivating interplay of light, texture, and materials. The soft illumination of the LEDs diffused through the natural translucent shoji paper creates a serene ambiance, while the raw copper circuitry, traditionally concealed, adds a contrasting element. The bamboo structure and hemp materials enhance the connection with nature and sustainability. The minimal and sustainable design promotes a mindset of conserving and using resources minimally, rather than over-utilizing them.

Through its design and materials, the lighting installation raises awareness about sustainability and encourages reflection on reuse. It prompts viewers to appreciate the harmonious blend of traditional and modern elements while considering the environmental impact of materials used in art and design. The installation serves as a visual representation of incorporating sustainable practices into creative endeavors, inspiring viewers to adopt a mindset of repurposing and conserving.

The installation’s curved shapes symbolize and encourage a cyclical journey of sustainability, reminding viewers of the importance of repurposing and conserving resources. The reflective surfaces also prompt viewers to reflect on their own relationship with sustainability and their role in shaping a more sustainable future.

The structure is constructed entirely from biodegradable materials, aligning with sustainable practices. The lighting components are made from minimalistic materials that provide efficient and efficacious illumination, reinforcing the installation’s commitment to low-impact environmental design.

IALD Experiential Lighting Installations One Lux Studio, LAMP by Experience Brands

Activate the Circular Economy

Design Firm: One Lux Studio | Lead Designer: Jack Bailey
Exhibiting Manufacturer: Lamp (Experience Brands) | Project Lead: Wes Lane

View video walk-through and explanation of this Circular Economy lighting installation

Our lighting installation is a physical manifestation of the circular economy. We invite the viewer to partake in it and envision themselves as a central and active part in achieving sustainability, while also enjoying a brief natural respite.

The life cycle of all materials in the installation has been carefully considered.

MDF is made primarily of scrap and waste wood. Eco-friendly MDF uses biodegradable glues which are free of toxins like formaldehyde, and allow for easy recycling.

The 55 cork shades in this installation were made from 2,200 recycled wine stoppers. Cork is obtained by debarking the cork oak without cutting the tree; this “harvest” occurs every 9 to 12 years. The extraction of cork is a very environmentally friendly process, with very low impact and obtained from renewable resources as it does not even require the felling of trees. Cork can be recycled an infinite number of times to manufacture new products, and even the smallest particles of cork dust, produced during successive crushing, can become fuel. After Lightfair, these cork shades will be returned to the factory and used to fabricate 55 “new” Stormbell pendants.

Each shade is fitted with a custom light module made of reused materials – metal connectors and acrylic diffusers taken as scraps from the factory. The lampholders are new and will be re-used in future light fixtures.

Did you experience LightFair 2023’s Immersive Lighting Installations? What was your takeaway? Which was your favorite?

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