With European markets constantly increasing and improving sustainable elements in their various industries, we’ve also seen the Middle East start to take on greater initiatives. Sustainability is something that has seeped into various sectors of design and construction and we’re seeing it affect lighting designers as well.
David Clement, managing director, FUTURE Designs, explains that like markets in Europe such as the United Kingdom, the Middle East is “starting to fully commit to LED technology. Although the cost of energy is not the driving force behind the [regional] shift, there is a great awareness of the importance of environmental and maintenance issues.”
He adds: “There is no doubt that we are experiencing far greater interest in LED products than last year. Another key factor is evident amongst the architectural and design community, who is excited and inspired by the adaptability and flexibility of LED, which unlocks a whole new vista of opportunity and creativity in developing seamless light solutions.”
Ondrej Soska, Preciosa’s regional director for the Middle East agrees, noting that the major trend driving the technological improvements in lighting across the globe is the interest in saving energy. He says that at the moment, a number of rules are being applied across the world, as countries are becoming very strict about power consumption in commercial and residential buildings.
Soska adds: “For decades the incandescent lamps were the best source of light to illuminate the chandeliers and decorative crystal installations. In recent years, LED technology has emerged incredibly and became the single best lighting solution. To be able to cope with the speed of the industry, we have built a large research and development workshop in our factory in the Crystal Valley, which constantly invents and applies new applications of the latest lighting technologies.”
Sustainability isn’t the only trend on the minds of lighting designers—architectural integration is another consideration. According to Carlo Moro, FLOS’s regional manager for the Middle East and CIS, residential and hospitality projects are requesting the intelligent incorporation of lighting into the building’s architecture.
Moro points out that light sources are to be hidden in such a way as to have absolute glare control as well as soft lighting, creating comfortable environments.
He says: “That’s why interior designers and lighting designers are using cove lighting systems, as well as downlights where the light sources are recessed inside the fixture. With the same target of creating relaxing atmospheres, whereas the LED technology is being used, lighting designers are using a higher colour rendering index and a warmer light.”
According to Clement, the UAE’s recent switch to sustainable lights is a bold move, which undoubtedly affects the lighting industry.
He notes that it’s a major and admirable switch, showing the “intent to fully commit to sustainability by adapting to the latest LED technology on such a large scale. The effect on the lighting industry in general is that there will be a swifter swing toward 100% LED supply than there was thought to be possible within this region.”
He furthers: “There is always a concern by major organisations that they are being used as the guinea-pig but the fact that the UK and Europe [in general] has already committed to LED removes this concern.”
Nikki Tanara Staggs, national sales manager at Alger-Triton explains that clients today are requesting sustainable lighting solutions, and with governments passing initiatives and regulations encourages the general customer base to do so. Staggs furthers that it’s becoming an industry standard.
“With new laws supporting sustainability, this has put pressure on owners to implement energy saving solutions,” says Staggs. She adds: “Many specifications we receive specify LED lamps to be used, but more and more we are integrating the LED tape into the design of the fixture. Not only in the long run are fixtures saving energy but the property owner is saving money on the maintenance as the lamping does not require bulbs to be continuously changed out.”
When it comes to the aesthetics of lighting design within the region, many of the experts we spoke to agreed that vibrant and detailed work is most popular. Soska and Staggs argue that custom lighting is artistic regardless of the style the client is going for.
Soska says: “In the case of decorative lighting, the major role of luminaries is to emphasise the beauty of the illuminated objects, allowing maximum control of light intensity and the possibility of colour changing with minimum energy requirements. Sometimes it’s very challenging to design the optimal lighting effect, but the results are often really amazing.”
Staggs adds that lighting designers are no longer limited to the simple light fixture and socket. Staying on the forefront of lighting technology is a must, allowing designers to share a new design approach with clients and open the door to more creative and innovative ways of illumination.
LED technology is certainly booming across international markets. Moro notes that lighting designers are “extensively specifying LED technology, either retrofit or integrated. Considering the soft light approach we mentioned before in terms of design, they are using the big advantage of LED chips, which allow a better focus of the light where it is needed. By doing this, they are reducing the light quantity scattered around in a room…reducing pollution.”
Soska is also optimistic about the direction of the market. He explains that as client and designer demands continue to grow and move toward greater lighting schemes, technology in the sector will have to continue meeting them.
He says: “In such a dynamic market as the UAE, the clients always require unique designs, using the latest cutting-edge technologies that will differentiate their projects. We believe that there is a lot of space for new technologies that will allow us to make even more stunning crystal installations.”