Dubai, UAE: A glittering gala awards ceremony celebrating the very best in global lighting design and technology has brought a successful end to three days of business networking and knowledge sharing at the Light Middle East 2018 exhibition in Dubai.
The 13th edition of the region’s dedicated trade show for the lighting design and technology industry featured 333 exhibitors from 30 countries at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, and drew in 5,469 visitors from 74 countries.
The nine per cent year-on-year growth in exhibition space cemented the three-day event’s position as the annual must-attend gathering for the international lighting design community. This was further underlined by more than 600 industry professionals at the 6th Light Middle East Awards, which took place at the Hilton Al Habtoor City on 25th September. A shortlist of 53 finalists contested seven project and six product categories, selected from more than 230 submissions in 2018.
Among the big winners was The Constellation - The Founder’s Memorial Abu Dhabi, which took home two gongs: the Exterior & Public Lighting Project of the Year, and the Innovative Lighting Project of the Year.
Dubai-based dpa lighting consultants was assigned to illuminate The Constellation, a monumental public artwork that forms the centrepiece of The Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi, a permanent national tribute to the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
The artwork was conceptualised and designed by artist Ralph Helmick, with whom dpa collaborated closely with at both his studio in Boston and during extensive lighting trials conducted in Abu Dhabi to achieve the optical visual performance of the lighting scheme that enhances this world class artwork.
Other big winners on the night was La Perle by Dragone, the Middle East’s first resident show in Dubai, which won the Entertainment and Leisure Lighting Project of the year; and design studio Delta Lighting, which took home two awards for its work on Dubai’s Bvlgari Yacht Club in the Restaurant & Bar Lighting Project of the Year, and the Bvlgari Hotel in the Hotel Lighting Project of the Year category.
The Light Middle East Awards provided a fitting finale to Light Middle East 2018, where the world’s leading lighting manufacturers and local start-ups alike showcased their wares to thousands of trade buyers and professionals from throughout the wider region.
Among the headline names on the show floor that need no introduction were the likes of Cinmar Lighting Systems, Decolight, Sylvania, Abensal, Venuetech, Martin Professional, Zoomlux and Zumtobel, while EZ Shade was a debut exhibitor launching its UAE-made light bulb shades made from 100 percent recycled material.
EZ Shade’s CEO and Founder Brian Wholehan, said the uniqueness of EZ Shade is thanks to its patented customisable bracket that easily clips onto any bare light bulb fixture, while the shades, which come in varying sizes and colours, attach to the bracket.
“Everything is invented and made here in the UAE, and we’re looking to meet developers, designers, construction companies, contractors, and retailers at Light Middle East to present EZ Shade as an easy option to cover lights in residential or commercial developments,” said Wholehan, adding the shades retail from AED50 a piece.
“We’ve sold more than 1,500 in less than a year since we launched, and we want to take that to the next level. Outside of the UAE, we’ve already exported to Mexico, Morocco, and Egypt. We’ve had a number of interested people at Light Middle East 2018, including from Africa, who love the design and easy installation of EZ Shade.”
Light Middle East also featured for the first time in 2018 a Smart Pavilion, where leading brands featured their latest technologies in smart lighting, Internet of Things, Lighting Controls, and Building Automation.
German company Hager Group is a manufacturer of electrical installations, and was another debut exhibitor at the dedicated pavilion putting the spotlight on its smart home and building automation systems.
Juana Ashi, Solution Manager for Unit Cable Management at Hager in the Middle East, was on-hand to show how its touch panels worked: “Our touch panels enable users to control everything in their homes, from AC, audio, lights, dimming, curtains and other IoT connected home devices, either from the touch panel or their mobile phones.
“We’re at Light Middle East 2018 to show our new solutions to system integrators, developers, as well as end-users – owners of villas and palaces. We’ve had a lot of visitors and meetings at our stand and are happy to me here,” said Ashi.
Among the many features returning to Light Middle East 2018 was THINKLIGHT – a three day conference focusing on the key areas of lighting, namely architecture, interior, and landscape design.
Elisa Rodriguez, Studio Leader at Architecture and Design firm Rockwell Group, was among the 15 speakers. She delivered a presentation about the ‘Illuminati of Trends’, and how designers are accommodating the latest trends in their design concepts.
Rodriguez highlighted the soon-to-open Siddhartha Lounge in Muscat Oman, in which Rockwell Group was tasked alongside dpa to design the interiors and lighting of the rooftop bar. She said the design focused heavily on storytelling that encapsulates the surrounding Al Hajar Mountain landscape.
“The Siddharta Lounge is an example of storytelling in design, and when we first travelled to Muscat, we were thrilled by the mountains and the mystery behind them,” said Rodriguez. “We created a story about the tales in the mountains and how through the oral tradition, those fairy tales were spread throughout the city of Muscat. This gave us a starting point to design the different spaces for the Siddhartha Lounge that will hopefully be ready in the beginning of next year.”
Light Middle East has always been a happy hunting ground for business partnerships as well as an incubator of new trends that are shaping the future the regional architectural lighting design landscape.
Among the more than 5,400 visitors to the three-day event in 2018 was Martin Valentine, Global Design Director at Ligman, a UK based lighting design studio. A former lighting consultant at Abu Dhabi Municipality, Valentine still likes to be a regular visitor to Light Middle East.
“Ligman is quite well known around the world and has had a presence in the Middle East for about ten years,” said Valentine. “This region is one of its largest global markets, the USA and Australia being the others. We’ve a lot of unique design work coming on here, and we’re tying up with a lot of light designers for some key products. We’re into traditionally outdoor lighting but we’re moving into indoor in the coming 2-3 years.
“Having travelled a lot in the last year or so in my role, I’ve found the Middle East lighting market is not much different from the rest of the world – it’s not behind or ahead; it’s exactly aligned with what’s being seen in Europe, the USA, South East Asia and Australia. The technology is here, the brands are here, the control side of things are the same. It’s just as fluid as what I’ve seen anywhere in the world.”
Light Middle East is organised by Messe Frankfurt Middle East, and also returned with the 3rd edition of Light.ication – a student lighting design competition where five university teams conceptualised and installed their own artistic lighting schemes using exhibitor products and with the help of local design studios as mentors.
For the first time, judges awarded a dead-heat, with both Prince Sultan University and Zayed University coming away as the ultimate winners in an inspiring competition that also featured teams from American University in Dubai, Heriot Watt University, and Manipal University.
The 14th edition of Light Middle East will return in September 2019. More information about the 2018 awards winners, special features, and the show is available at: www.lightme.net.