Decades ago when British scientist Michael Faraday harnessed electrons in pursuit of proving the link between electrons, magnetism, light and gravity (that’s the really, really short version) he likely never imagined that standard home lighting would be what they are now — despite his genius. Lighting is big business, and crucial business considering how light, or lack of it, affects our moods, productivity, health and how we live overall.
This past April’s Hong Kong International Lighting Fair (one of two, the other being in the autumn) brought together over 18,000 buyers and 1,000 exhibitors from Canada, Australia, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, China and dozens of others looking for and offering up the latest in lighting technology. Green, outdoor, commercial and an entire section on LED tech took centre stage for four days and effectively set the pace for the rest of us for the foreseeable future. Though LED lighting has as many cons as pros, Optiled Lighting’s Sun Tam told a forum it was here to stay. “Compared [to] other lighting products or light sources such as incandescent and fluorescent, LED is still the most eco-friendly light source.” LED should enjoy approximately a 50 percent market share by 2020 and expand well beyond its current commercial applications, particularly as the cost comes down.
There was plenty to look at but as with any trade show, some products and ideas stood head and shoulders above the crowd, and LED and green technologies remained some of the most chattered about products. Don’t be surprised to see (feel?) some of these lights in a shopping mall one day.
Among the most notable were Hong Kong Design Institute’s Cohesion pendant lamp by Wong Man Chung. Part of the Fair’s creativity competition, Wong’s fixture is made of straws arranged to look like a flower blossom and won the Eco Design Award. It’s a novel use of an everyday item we overlook, and it’s enough to make you hope Wong opens a studio soon. Also eye-catching was Sunsi Australia’s nanotech-based, multi-purpose decorative LED bulb. It dissipates light better than most and allows for high wattage brightness in a light body. Hong Kong-based iBrain Technology defies logic with its plastic “Graphene” Modified Thermally Conductive Plastic (GMP). Designed to replace aluminium alloy for heat dissipation, the GMP is a fraction of the cost — a boon for architects, developers and anyone with ambitious interiors plans.
But it’s not all industrial all the time. Plenty of exhibitors were as focused on aesthetics as they were on function. From Taiwan’s Next Generation Lighting Source is the Ripple, an LED lamp shaped like a water drop and designed to float — and illuminate only on the water. It’s the kind of indoor and outdoor mood lighting that can be hard to find as well as being a conversation starter.
Also close to home is Hong Kong design studio Sweda, which specialises in smal
l home appliances including lamps and lighting. Local design graduate Will Ng has designed a line of contemporary and novel table lamps with clever, intuitive manoeuvring in a range of colours. The Pelican and the Vitality were the stars of the show, all smooth lines and graceful glide to their malleability. Unfortunately for now these funky, modern lamps are only available in Taiwan, Japan and Korea. But since when has geography ever stopped a Hongkonger from the perfect accessory?