You Need to Put a Light WHERE?

We’ve all passively watched LEDs “grow up” before our eyes as indicator lights on appliances and electronics, time displays on alarm clocks and watches, emergency and advertising signage, brake lights on vehicles, flashlights, traffic signals, police cars, and so on.

I never imagined that the technology would have advanced to the point of serving as an ambient light source or as decorative lighting, but fortunately there were some forward-thinkers in the lighting industry. Alecia Wesner, President of Kovacs-Wesner Design Group, noted that her mentor (the late George Kovacs, who was also the mentor of designer Robert Sonneman) had been closely following the evolution of LEDs since 2002. 

What excited Kovacs and his team was the fact that with LED, a light source did not need to be in one central point.  “I remember sitting in a meeting in early 2002 talking about how to make an impact with LED, we needed to exploit the shape.  George kept emphasizing to one of the designers that the light could be a donut (open in the center). Back then, LED light was such a mystery and expensive. George used to always say ‘The enemy of lighting designers is heat’ and LED absolutely changed that,” she recalled, adding, “He said LED was the future.”

As evidenced by this year’s Lightfair exhibition, LED is being utilized in all sorts of novel ways — from aiding pot growers to assisting restaurants in cultivating their own fresh herbs and vegetables as part of a farm-to-table menu. Apparently even milk production is light-sensitive and color-corrected LED has become a solution for maximizing supply by creating “long day” lighting conditions.

In this column two months ago, I mentioned that LED is now being used for some specialized applications such as curing acne and in medical procedures.

With all the talk of LED, however, it’s easy to forget that there are still developments occurring in other light sources such as metal halide, fluorescent, and more specialized incandescent. The first installment of our post-Lightfair coverage is in this issue (starting on page 42). Stay tuned for more updates, as progress seems to travel at, well, lightspeed.