Lighting the way in 2017

Naturally, at this time of the year, we’re starting to wind down and enjoy the odd tipple of mulled wine and spending quality time with our loved ones. But before we do, we thought we’d share our thoughts on the exciting times ahead and indulge in a bit of trend forecasting.

We’re well aware that today is a world obsessed with technology – if we look at where the industry is seeing the most change, and will do for 2017, it’s through technological advances. We’re seeing a shift towards light embracing technology – where it’s being used for guidance, security and personalisation by individually addressing and controlling luminaires the way we desire. We launched Nulty Bespoke earlier this year (have a peek at the launch party here) to meet the demand for customers who want to fuse technology, individuality and sophistication – it’s incredibly exciting to be able to create a luminaire that’s driven by an individual need.

Continuing with technology, the Internet of things (IoT) will be a huge trend in years to come, taking precedence in the future. It’s no longer just computers and smartphones that are connected to the web, but also your fridge, your coffee cup, your heart monitor and your LED lights. Lighting is an ideal network for IoT services to be built on – because it’s already there in the ceiling of every building, looking down at us, wired up and ready to go. You only have to add a few sensors or cameras and some kind of data connection. Watch this space for expanded development in this area.

We’ll continue to see the need for employers to meet the demands of an ever-growing agile working environment and to ensure that employee well-being is paramount in a working space. “Well-being” is not just a buzzword, it’s important, especially as January is a time when we start to reflect and think about change. Employers want to retain employees and keep them happy and healthy (think chill-out rooms with soft ambient lighting).

However, lighting is important for all generations in all locations – this is particularly prevalent when it comes to designing lighting for baby boomers and the next generation upwards. It’s unnerving how much there has been in the press recently about negligent care for this age group – designing lighting for the elderly requires special consideration and care from architects and lighting designers.

Staying on the theme of “well-being”, we have to mention human centric lighting and the growing interest it deserves. Instinctively, we know that where there’s human activity, there’s light. And there’s growing scientific evidence that lighting does much more than simply provide illumination for visual needs. Human centric lighting is an approach that we as lighting designers have always subscribed to and the topic is gaining momentum.

Researchers have found that light meets both visual and non-visual needs – and understanding this interaction has opened up a new realm of applications. These insights help us develop lighting solutions that are targeted at enhancing vision, well-being and performance by applying an in-depth knowledge of science, humans and user needs.

As we say farewell to another year and with all the excess pounds being spent (and shamefully put on) during the festive season, naturally, retailers see an increase in sales – both online and in-store. Whilst that’s the case, they’re also distinctly aware that they need to drive people – even more so – back into stores throughout the whole year, and create an emotional connection between the customer and the brand.

Today’s customer doesn’t want a functional space that soullessly displays merchandise, they want to experience a connection – the right lighting helps do this by creating an ambience that’s engaging, flattering and honest. And it’s not only that, they want to ensure that they’re fully immersed in the overall brand experience! Think art, fashion, music and ‘selfie-ready’ changing rooms where the lighting is befitting, even for an A-lister. So, we’re certainly going to see more retailers become even savvier and making sure that their lighting schemes create a place that customers just don’t want to leave – good for the brand, and the bottom line.

The night time economy is something we’ve already talked this year and it will continue to be a hot and growing topic (we for one certainly love a 24-hour city). The NTE is vital to London’s heartbeat, both economically and culturally – nothing confirmed this more than the Mayor of London appointing, last month, a Night Czar – Amy Lamè. Bars, nightclubs, restaurants, cafés and theatres will start to look at how they adapt their lighting to seamlessly go from day to night and ensure that customers want to stay in their venues to boost sales. And, when it comes to luxury design-led bars and restaurants far more investment is being seen in bespoke light fittings (as mentioned earlier).

Hotels will be buzzing as tourism to the UK looks to grow post-Brexit – thanks to being more ‘economically viable’. Hoteliers will want to make sure visitors feel comfortable and relaxed during their stay: with cooler lighting providing the opportunity for more dynamic spaces during the day, and in the evening, warmer colour temperatures creating a cosy, comfortable atmosphere.

Image: © James French