What We Learned From This Year’s Lighting for Tomorrow Competition

Connected or "Smart" Lighting

An Opportunity to Connect
Two interesting trends were apparent. The first is the drive for simplicity – making connected products as easy to set up and use as possible. Some luminaires, for example, may be mounted and wired as usual and controlled by a simple switch or dimmer as required. Their connected features are activated as desired via a wireless control or cell phone app. This feature also encourages the second trend which is to have the communications protocols involved invisible to the installer or user. The smart device makes the needed data translations automatically using wireless Bluetooth® or home Wi-Fi systems for communications.

Lighting Design

New Directions in Lighting Artistry
The success of a decorative luminaire is often due to the way the designer uses various materials to achieve functional lighting along with a sophisticated artistic appearance. LEDs offer new possibilities since they can be mounted in close proximity to heat-sensitive materials and are not limited to configurations using standard sockets or even access for service or replacement. The results can be seen in this year’s judges’ design award winner where light is refracted by laser etched optical plastics and reflected from surfaces carefully finished to respond aesthetically to the color and character of the generated light.

Thinner and Thinner

Think Thin with Uniform Edge Light
Ceiling fixtures with flat luminous surfaces as well as the traditional thin or slim under-cabinet fixtures have become even thinner thanks to optical plastics and tiny LEDs designed to uniformly edge light large diffuse surfaces. And, no longer is the lighting limited to a single color tone as arrays of color-changing LEDs can be used for decorative effects as well as white-light color tuning.

“Filament” Bulbs

Larger and More Decorative
Two trends were apparent in the visible filament products submitted this year. One was the substantial increase in light output ratings suggesting that these bulbs are now functional light sources in their own right rather than just luminous decorations for dim environments. But, at the same time, we saw larger and more decorative bulb shapes enclosing decorative and increasingly intricate LED filament structures.

Layers of Light

Visual Interest of (Lighting) Layers
There are three basic types of lighting that work together in a home: ambient (general), task, and accent lighting. When combined, these lighting “layers” comprise functional design and enable comfortable illumination, specific household activities such as cooking or reading, as well as visual interest. Sometimes a single fixture can provide multiple light layers at the same time; in 2017 we saw a number of thoughtful products seeking to optimize this concept.