With formalighting celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year, arc caught up with founder and president Lorenzo Maghnagi to find out about the company’s past, present and future.
When was formalighting established and how did it come about?
About 50 years ago in the UK, we joined forces with other Italian design industrialists to develop downlighters for the architectural lighting sector, promoting Italian design through our showroom in London. Later, I was inspired by emerging Lighting Designers and Architects originating from South-East Asia, and envisioned our focus on architectural lighting for the commercial project specifications market, and formalighting branched off to realise an international presence with the expansion of a Hong Kong office. The business soon evolved to manufacture its own range of Italian designed architectural lighting and the expansion of our European headquarters in Milan.
How did formalighting look back then compared to now?
This year marks formalighting’s 50th anniversary. We have progressed from an international multi-brand distributor of Italian architectural lighting in the UK , to designer, manufacturer and global distributor of our own range featuring over 120 product families in four collections (interior, exterior, motorised and now decorative). Our family business has grown to involve a new generation (including my daughters – a lighting consultant/PR specialist and a lawyer – and my son-in-law, a software engineer). The energy on our booth at Light+Building and the interest in our new products really made me appreciate how far formalighting has come and the recognition and reputable position it plays. The global scale of the company has also been a realisation of my dreams, especially the recent opening of our USA office.
What was the big breakthrough in formalighting’s evolution?
It’s been a combination of conscious decisions and relentless hard work. Our decision to be where we could control production, the prices and product design, by establishing our wholly owned European, state-of-the art manufacturing facility in China, has been significant in our evolution. It forced our continuous investment in manufacturing processes and technology, the component industry, machinery, factory processes and standards and electrical engineering innovations, to ensure long term quality and functions in our fixtures. In turn this enabled our understanding and vision for lighting trends, rising design, architectural trends and technology. formalighting’s Italy office furthered our exposure to talented designers and architects who have helped steer our image. We also benefited from the guidance and expertise of Architect Franco Mirenzi, who designed our booth at Light+Building. However, I feel like our ‘breakthrough’ is yet to come, as the recent decision to cross over to the US market, combined with our product engineering and compatibility with advanced market technologies, are just now coming into fruition.
How important has your motorised technology been to your product portfolio and how did it come about?
The motorised technology has raised our profile in the hospitality sector. The Motolux range, which we launched at L+B 2016, came about from our collaboration with a US engineer. Within two years formalighting’s engineers developed the Motolux range to include over twelve product families and implemented innovative functions and mounting installations. We had the foresight to experiment with a range of technologies on the market, which led us to appreciate the benefits and applications of motorised lighting. We were amazed by the requests from visual merchandisers and lighting designers. The motorised lighting is not limited to architects and design needs anymore. It proves formalighting’s commitment to service and investment in R&D. We even took the motorised technology to a niche and developed a range for motorised jewellery and showcase lighting, which sparked a lot of interest at L+B 2018.
You are incorporating new technologies into your products. How has this made your luminaires better?
Synonymous with our commitment to service, these new technologies enable our luminaires to offer additional options to users, without requiring additional remote equipment or expensive set-up/installation costs. formalighting was first in the market to integrate the control of LensVector technology by the Casambi app (instead of another dedicated app), enabling users to adjust another feature, the beam angle, with a finger swipe of a touchscreen. Naturally it is an added benefit if the user can use the same interface to dim selected fixtures, move the fixtures, create scenes and timers. This is all in addition to our luminaires also incorporating the latest and most advanced LED technology with high density LEDs of CRI 93 or more and R9>60 offering perfect optics and interchangeable accessories.
What did you launch at Light+Building?
Product development is my passion so it was difficult to be selective. We presented eight new innovative product families in our Motolux range, of which many are the first in the market – for example, the Moto-Ola Pendant, a motorised disc-shaped light head that tilts vertically and also flips within its gimbal/disc remotely, so it can be used for direct and indirect light, adjusted by hand-held remote control or by our Casambi app. We also launched a collaboration with Italian designer, Maurizio Giuseppe Scutellà, the LineaVolo range, blending the line between architectural and decorative.
Can you tell us any plans for the future?
This next generation is our future. They have fresh ideas and plenty of energy, focused on growing the business by remaining fully committed to continuously invest in R&D, launch new designs and investigate packaging and material alternatives to reduce our carbon emissions.
We believe that sensors together with IoT development, will become a key part in lighting management/data collection, so our plan is to continue to integrate new technologies and relevant softwares in our fixtures and systems as lighting having its own artificial intelligence, which is part of human needs and evolution, has become part of the world’s infrastructure. So we hope to continue opening offices worldwide to increase our global presence and to facilitate our product system offerings.