Kevin Grant: Lighting design technology comment

Director of Light Alliance Kevin Grant shares some predictions for lighting design technology trends in 2017 and what they might mean for the future of the industry.

There are many challenges and opportunites that could have a direct effect on the future direction of lighting. A changing climate and global economy continue to inspire more effcient products in terms of energy and cost. New suppliers, brands and collaborations are coming online and often bringing knowledge from non-lighting backgrounds. The management of power consumption, lifespan, reliability and light quality of light sources is continuing to improve and the costs are reducing as the uptake of this technology increases.

We anticipate a better level of interaction and controllability becoming the norm, allowing us to personalise spaces, making them adaptable and flexible. I hope the wider focus shifts from the present quantitative based approach, to consider the quality of our spaces and places a bit more – where we consider how light improves the experience of the space and can provide information rather than focusing so much on lighting levels, uniformity or the direction of light.

Often decisions seem to be made based on ‘making energy savings’ or ‘minor cost savings’ at the expense of making a better quality user experience. By making sure our client’s buildings and spaces not only look beautiful and function well, we can be more efficient, effective and improve the overall user experience. By spending a bit more on better design we can make tangible savings and add real value to the construction process by building smarter buildings – and that doesn’t always have to involve high technology solutions.

That said, a lot of the current advances to the architectural lighting toolbox are technology driven.



There is a move toward providing luminaires and light sources with integrated features, allowing users to vary colour/colour temperature/intensity of light, switching times, or engage scheduling and automation.


The ability to change the colour/colour temperature, intensity or direction of light is becoming easier, smaller and more cost effective. To improve the flexibility and experience of a space is to increase the value to our clients.

(New variable lighting product developments are now available from iGuzzini, XAL, FLOS, Martin, Philips, OSRAM, Helvar, Fulham)

INTEGRATION/INTERACTIVE/INTELLIGENT Variable lighting is becoming more mainstream, with increased options to have control elements integrated within luminaires – so lighting can respond to movement, occupancy or proximity without the need for expensive control systems. We anticipated this becoming a standard offer in external lighting products also, with several key players now beginning to offer this along with some elegant options to incorporate other non-lighting elements (wifi/speakers/cctv/charging points/signage).

(New integrated- interactive product developments from BEGA, Hess, Selux, Philips)


Miniaturisation of lighting equipment means that luminaires and lighting components can be discrete and easily concealed from view – so the focus can be on objects and surfaces being lit and not on the luminaires.


With lower heat emitted within light beams, extended maintenance periods and less need for regular access, we can get closer to a wider range of materials. This inspires a move towards integrated products that become part of the built environment, allowing us to transform the appearance of a space or object when these components are switched on/off/or varied. The flexible form factor means that lighting can be incorporated with fluid form and organic shapes.


Devices with in-built intelligence, to respond to different triggers and patterns, learning its own optimised settings for each space to self-commission learning how a space is being used over time and automatically adapt to suit – to switch lights on/off/vary lighting levels to react to an event/engaging sequences/considering time/ambient lighting levels and physical commands, allowing manual override of course.

(Developments from Helvar, Charismac, Fulham, Lutron)


The advance of optical systems means we can create very specific light distributions or dramatic effects and often using less energy or fewer luminaires than with previous technologies. Optics can now be tailored to suit specific shapes, forms or  light distributions. We can even print optics using 3D printing, meaning that tailored solutions can be produced much quicker and be more cost effective.

(Developments from Luxexcel, LEDiL)


The changing markets have attracted new partners into the industry including ‘home-grown’ manufacturers and international global brands, including non-architectural lighting players to the world of architectural lighting, designer-led tailored brands and collaborations with firms from non-lighting backgrounds.


Many manufactures are now offering a wider palette of standard colours for visible lighting components including textured finishes and metallic finishes, attachments and accessories.