t’s a new year; and judging from what I’m seeing in the industry lately, it’s going to be an auspicious one. A perfect example is this issue, our first edition of 2016. While flipping through these pages, several things become clear. First and foremost, you’ll notice that the styles of new products unveiled in the winter market previews – and in the advertisements – are fresh, innovative, and forward-thinking. Consumers are feeling more confident in going bolder in their choices for their homes — whether that means feeling comfortable spending the extra dollars in LED technology for sizable fixtures instead of dabbling in the category via task lights, or in their choices of color, pattern, and materials.

That same confidence is also noticeable among manufacturers. When I entered this industry in 1994, the lighting world was flooded with polished brass and bound glass.
A few years later, it seemed everything was washed in a verdigris finish. There wasn’t much individuality except for a few individuals who danced to the beat of their own design drum. In the beginning, it seemed they had more ingenuity than they had sales because it took awhile for the lighting community to feel comfortable buying products that didn’t look like everything else on the market.

Over the ensuing years – and especially as we were coming out of the Recession – that mindset has shifted. Buyers are more interested in finding designs that nobody else in their selling area would think of carrying or dare to try. Discovering “different” is the name of the game now. There have been many years in the not-too-distant past when I would ask buyers if they saw anything exciting at market and hear, “Nah, just the same old stuff” as the response.

Yes, there are still copycats out there, as well as certain style trends that many manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon to supply. However, judging from the new designs that are debuting this year at the winter shows, I think even the hardcore naysayers are going to be excited by what they see.

That “freshness” is going to translate down the line to the consumers, specifiers, and builders. I believe 2016 is going to be a successful and pivotal year for the companies (retailers, manufacturers, sales reps, and designers) who go beyond their comfort zone and become a bit edgy. Trust me, your customers and clients are ready for it.

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