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Interactive conferencing starts today!


This year PLDC is embarking on an interactive conferencing experiment! All attendees are invited to contribute, comment and interact through the available social media networks. Using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the PLDC App! All interaction will be monitored on the “Post !t” – social media monitors.

And we are starting today! At PLDC 2013 Koert Vermeulen will be presenting a paper on the status quo of the lighting profession and will dare to predict a forecast of the developments over the coming years. First questions have been raised and posted on the PLDC Countdown blog for everyone to comment on! Don’t be shy! Be part of the community and contribute towards shaping the market of the future!!



•    What will be the impact of a “title act” or accreditation on the lighting design profession?
o    As an example, only 10% of the German professional construction market employs a Lighting Designer, what about the other 90%? Who does that now? And what if that 90% fell into our laps tomorrow?


•    What is the state of the lighting design profession in the different parts and countries in the world?
o    Lighting design is a very young profession, starting in the 50’s in the US with Kelly and his colleagues carving the first marks into the almighty construction world, trying to get acknowledged by the architects, engineers and construction companies…another duck in the pond. From there the wave also found ground in the UK and Germany where I feel the lighting design profession is at its maturest point right now. From there this new profession has slowly but steadily gained a foothold in the other markets. Even now it is still up to a few individuals to keep stand in some areas like some Baltic countries, Russia, and China – although things are evolving very fast.


•    What kind of LD practice do you run? – Basic lighting design? Advanced lighting design? Applying codes? Light Art?
o    The lighting design profession is in a constant mode of evolution in terms of scope of services.
Applying the codes: the most basic form
Basic lighting design: plans and sections, specifications, codes, best practice
Advanced lighting design: the design is conveyed through a concept, a narrative, a story. The design is put into place through concept design, schematic design, design development, construction drawings and follow up and finally commissioning
Light art: the highest form of lighting design, where the designer is no longer bound by the usual suspects, but can depict his vision in an artistic expression of form and light. Where do you fit in? Maybe you do all 4? Which one can be considered the right practice for a sustainable future for the lighting design profession?

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“Redefining the working relationship of LED manufacturer and lighting designer”

Paul Nulty sw web

Paul Nulty

Peter Earle sw web

Peter Earle

The paper will be presented in the Professional Practise Issues track.

In a nutshell: Take a random light source manufacturer, a market leader in its field with exceptional strengths in conventional light source innovation, and now at the forefront of the LED transformation, redefining all its established processes… Add to that a small, eager, successful, independent, lighting design practice, adapting itself at lightning speed to the new LED terminology and fast changing LED products, while carrying on with existing lighting projects… And you have a typical business relationship that is multiplied all over the world with different combinations of players.
New digital technologies in lighting are forcing a new way of doing business, across the supply chain, end to end. All stakeholders in the different positions in this end-to-end chain should be aware of the challenges that we face as an industry to deliver lighting schemes using this technology. To demonstrate and debate a partnership way of working between manufacturer – specifier – end user in this new digital lighting world will raise the audience’s awareness of these challenges.

About the presenting team: Paul Nulty established his own practice, Paul Nulty Lighting Design, in London/UK in 2011 after being a director of Light Bureau in London/UK for eleven years. Paul has worked on a variety of prestigious projects. His theatrical lighting background gives him a unique understanding of the relationship between space and light. Paul has won a number of awards for his work, is a prominent industry commentator and has appeared several times as an expert witness. He has been featured in and written articles for industry magazines, and presented seminars at various prominent events.

Peter Earle has a background in creative technologies and became involved with LED lighting technology because he thought ‘it was cool that an LED can be a device on a network’. After founding and running his own successful LED lighting business in the early 2000s, he merged this with an American lamp and fixture manufacturer in 2007, setting up the European division and became a director of the new company. Since early 2011 Peter has worked for Philips Lighting OEM in the UK, spreading the word about innovative light source technologies. Peter is a published author and regularly contributes in the lighting industry press. He is a regular speaker at industry events.

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Communication – acknowledgement of all media partners

In this age of new media and technologies, magazines, online platforms, Apps and social networks, communication has become an even more important everyday tool to help people interact, exchange, inform, educate and comment.
The PLDC team has once again gathered a number of high-quality media partners in the print and online business who are spreading the word about PLDC and promoting the event to a wide range of professionals from all fields of work related to lighting. Thanks to this collaboration, PLDC is looking to become the largest ever gathering of lighting designers and the most international community event to date.

We would like to thank our media partners for their support of the community idea and for being part of the PLDC movement.

Please check out the magazines and websites of our respective partners.

We are happy to present this year’s media partners and colleagues:

Print Media Partners:
Print Media PArtner.indd


Online Media Partners:


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A “family picture” of all involved in the Alingsås workshops

Roope's church

Team Roope Siroiinen, the Church in 2000.

The international lighting workshop in Alingsås now has a tradition of 15 years, 13 of which were in collaboration with the Professional Lighting Designers’ Association, PLDA. The project is known worldwide and it is generally acknowledged for the impact it has had on the lighting design community and the Swedish lighting market and culture. Lights in Alingsås was not meant as a lighting festival during these years but as an architectural lighting design exhibition and a field for experimentation in architectural lighting design in the public realm.

More than 90 lighting designers have guided a group through the workshop week as a workshop head, giving around 650 workshop participants the opportunity to expand their design skills and add to their practical experience. 500,000 visitors experienced the installations over the years and learnt about light and designed lighting in more than 1000 guided tours, where the designs were explained. For the lighting community, this specific workshop was a tool for explaining what architectural lighting designers do. For the participants it was a key lifetime experience they will never forget.

During PLDC Brendan Keely, who was a workshop head in 2012, will be presenting the 13-year history of the Lights in Alingsås project and its importance and effect for the international lighting design community. An additional idea is to take a picture with as many of the workshop heads and participants who were involved of the Alingsås workshop from 2000 – 2012 as possible. If everybody turns up it should be around 750 designers and former students! The picture is to be taken on Friday, 1st November at 14.30. We will meet in the main lobby of the convention centre (in front of the PLDC info desk). See you there!

Be part of the historic picture and please spread the word to others (your workshop group members) through Facebook and LinkedIn to ensure that as many as possible receive this information!

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Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund


When we began planning PLDC 2013 eighteen months ago Jonathan Speirs was still with us. He acted as Special Advisor at Large to the PLDC 2013 Steering Committee and provided essential input during key decision-making processes.

18th June 2013 saw the anniversary of the sad and untimely death of world renowned lighting designer Jonathan Speirs.  As you may already be aware the ‘Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund’ (JSSF) was set up in November 2012 with the express aim of providing financial assistance to students of architecture who wish to move into the rapidly expanding field of lighting design. Despite receiving extremely generous support from both the lighting industry and individuals JSSF is still seeking to raise funds, and in particular individual donations from those who knew Jonathan personally or simply admired the contribution he made to the architectural and lighting professions.  You can give via ‘Virgin Money Giving’ at the following  JSSF. Further information about the aims of the ‘Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund’ including the ability to make one-off and regular payments on behalf of commercial organisations can be found at our new website or by contacting  Please give generously.  Your support is very much needed.

“It is hard to believe that it is nearly a year ago since the passing of our very close friend and colleague, the world renowned lighting designer Jonathan Speirs. We miss him, his boundless enthusiasm for life, friends and family… and his passion for light. However, we are happy to announce that ‘The Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund’ (JSSF) is now a fully registered charity and that we have already had a wonderful, spontaneous and extremely generous response from colleagues, manufacturers and friends. Jonathan was by nature a generous man with time for everyone who would listen. He was also passionate about both architectural and lighting education. This website sets out the mission of the JSSF and how you can actively help to support it. No donation is too small. There can also be no better legacy than to help a young architect who aspires to being a lighting designer to achieve their stated ambition.”

John Roake
June 2013

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“Pool table” – contact point at PLDC 2013


The Professional Lighting Design community comprises many different professional groups – all related to light, lighting technology and lighting design. These pools of people all come together at PLDC every two years.

Yes, PLDC offers a large number of presentations plus a number of other educational activities and events. Continuing professional education is one main reason for both newcomers and experienced professionals to attend. However, it is equally important for attendees to shape and extend their individual networks. Meeting and exchanging ideas with market players, peers and colleagues offers insight into different design approaches, and provides examples of how others cope with issues every day.

PLDC offers extensive networking opportunities and an excellent platform for everyone involved in the lighting community to share their passion for what they do. Being open for new input is motivating and encourages people to continue to pursue their goals and beliefs.

To facilitate this exchange further, the team of organisers have come up with a new meeting place format: the Professional Lighting Design community lounge. This dedicated space will be in the exhibition hall where PLDC Partners from the lighting industry have their meeting points. There we will have a “pool table” contact point where PLDC attendees can meet, search and find new contacts. No matter if you are looking for an internship, someone to design a fixture, or new designers for your practice, this is the place where you can reach out to the right people. Remember – being right on cue can make a difference your entire career!

Join our pool table idea at PLDC 2013


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Gold Rush

JoachimPortraitSW150x150By Joachim Ritter

I don’t know why I always show images of LEDs when I report on the latest developments in SSL. Maybe so the double-page spread looks more interesting for the reader – text interspersed with pictures inspires people to read rather than just straight text.

The same rule applies when it comes to retrofit lamps. If the manufacturer’s name didn’t happen to be printed on them somewhere, it would be practically impossible to tell the difference between them. “What is he rabbiting on about now?” some of you will ask. “Lamps have always looked the same. Eggs all look more or less the same … ” True. But in the past we only had three eggs, five at the most. Sorry, for “eggs” read “manufacturers of incandescent lamps”.

When it comes to retrofit lamps, I could probably name you 20 manufacturers off the top of my head who all offer the same thing, except it’s different. Now, I have nothing against plurality, diversity, self-regulating economies or free markets. But it makes me wonder whether all the new suppliers of retrofit lamps really believe they are indispensable.

The run on the market seems a bit like a gold rush to me sometimes, an endless trek to a place where someone has found gold – that somebody else dropped there. It’s as if everyone believes the streets are paved with gold – we just have to get out there and gather it all up. What is happening right now is that Gold Rush City has expanded so quickly that things have gotten somewhat out of control. At some point chaos will reign supreme and the disappointed will pack their bags and move on to the next pot of gold, leaving behind them havoc and destruction to try their luck somewhere else.

Of course, we can’t draw absolute parallels between the gold rush and the lighting industry. This would never occur in our neck of the woods … OK, people have been known to fake their balance sheets to boost share prices, or have announced a product recall because the gold didn’t meet quality expectations, or somewhere else along the line an association descends into chaos. But hey, times are hard, and nothing is forever. Golden times lie ahead for this industry, believe me!

The truth is: nothing is simple. As any American dishwasher who became a millionaire will tell you – you have to work hard for your money, nothing in life is free. Professionally speaking, that means that something may look easy, but the devil is in the details. Everyone would do well to specialize in his own specific area of expertise and become as good at that as possible. Manufacturers should concentrate on the manufacture of products and not publish magazines, lighting designers on their lighting design and not on running associations or journalism, and professors on education and research with no more than 50 per cent of their time spent on design.

Many the best man win in his respective area of expertise – that’s what I say! All the others either have to improve their skills or clear off and do something else.

I am against permitting everyone to do what he wants and never being subjected to quality regulations. Why do we allow anyone to decide how much quality is necessary to be able to operate in a market? And that applies as much to manufacturers as it does to lighting designers and even journalists.

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Let’s be honest …

by Joachim RitterJoachimPortraitSW150x150

I really don’t want to find fault all the time. And I certainly don’t want to deny anyone the right to claim they have been involved in a project. It would appear top be difficult for many players, however, to define exactly what their role was on a given project. I would not go so far as to say that people deliberately provide false information, but it seems to be too much to ask for someone to describe what their specific contribution to the success of the project was.

Maybe it is simply a question of understanding or interpretation, or just the wrong choice of words. The headline: “Company X lights the new office building in Y” does not necessarily mean that company X actually designed the lighting for the office building in Y. It is more likely that they manufactured the luminaires specified by the designer and that those luminaries were supplied by yet another company, installed by a team of electricians, and finally focussed by the lighting designer.

Since it is often the case that luminaires are specified from more than one company, it may well be that press releases from two or more companies claim that those respective companies lit that project. This happens a lot when it comes to football stadiums or administration /office buildings, where one manufacturer supplied products for interior application and another the equipment for the façade lighting.

What the lighting companies are claiming only goes to show how proud they are of the results. And this is what they desperately want to communicate. It is not enough to have manufactured and supplied products that do the job perfectly. They want to underline the fact that they were involved in the project. Correctly formulated, they should be saying: ‘We supplied the products that were specified to illuminate the building’. Well, some of the products at least. As a rule, that is already a “good job done”, but obviously not good enough to warrant feeling proud.

Of course, some manufacturers do indeed have design departments that design the lighting schemes for certain projects. In that case, they should be communicating that it was their own design team who worked on the project and helped make it the success it is. Let’s be honest … we all know that lighting is not always designed by individual lighting designers, or light planner, or whatever they call themselves. There are manufacturers who offer these services. The focus may be a little different. And it may well be that the designers are employed directly by the manufacturer. But they are still human beings with the skill to create.

It reminds me of when people talk about intelligent buildings. No building is intelligent as it stands. It requires human beings with skills and know-how to design systems comprising highly technical components that allow the building to function in an intelligent way. What we are really talking about at the most is intelligent planning performed by one or more intelligent employees.

To sum up, let’s return to the project team involved in the creation of a building. Human development as a whole, and the basic conception that we need specialists, means that every building has a team of specialists behind it who collaborate at a professional level to realise a common project. The final success is therefore the result of teamwork – each player needs acknowledging and each player must be honest about what his/her role was. It’s high time we revived the notion of “mutual respect”.

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An awe-inspiring mass of know-how and knowledge

More than 220 papers were submitted by lighting specialists from all around the world, and it was again a huge challenge to decide which presentations were to fill the PLDC programme, which this year comprises 71 slots.
All submissions were peer reviewed by an independent jury of international lighting designers and specialists and evaluated for quality and professionalism, suitability for the declared track, the innovative character of the submission, and the importance of the topic. Each paper received three evaluations and the allocated points accrued. Based on the evaluation of the Paper Reviewing Committee, the Steering Committee compiled the conference programme – again overwhelmed by the high quality, variety and international character of the submissions!

Dr. Merete Madsen

Merete Madsen, Steering Committee Member of PLDC 2013 says:
”Upon reviewing all the selected abstracts during the weekend, I truly look forward to an inspiring conference in Copenhagen. The variety, quality and importance of the selected papers are great and I wish I could hear them all during the conference! Selecting papers was of course a lot of work, but I would like to express my gratitude to all the reviewers who did an enormous amount of work assessing all the abstracts and commenting on them, so we had a ‘relatively easy’ job to do – thank you. See you all in Copenhagen.”

The full programme is now available at and registration is open as of now!

The organizers advise attendees to book tickets in the early registration phase to guarantee the best available rate! After London, Berlin and Madrid, the organizers are again expecting a record number of attendees – demonstrating how the market is changing, bringing together “seasoned practitioners” as well as newcomers from all fields related to light and lighting.

It is becoming more and more evident, that the market is changing direction. Professions that first seem to have no link to the market are suddenly becoming players and key-clients who are introducing new requests, posing new challenges and asking for more education on light and lighting!
PLDC is the platform where all these professionals can meet, discuss and exchange ideas and expertise.

Joachim Ritter

Joachim Ritter, Chair of the Steering Committee and initiator of the event explains: “The letters PLDC have come to mean more than Professional Lighting design Convention. The “C” also stands for Community – with all its facets and sub-groups. The network that is evolving is not subject to any practical constraints inherent to fixed structures. It is simply a unique concentration of like-minded individuals from all over the world, who belong together – even if they only have the chance to meet every two years (!) – and are seriously interested in developing lighting design to the status it deserves, accepting the challenges along the way, and continually expanding their knowledge and skills in the process.”

The Steering Committee is also happy to see that architects are becoming increasingly more involved in actively changing the architect’s attitude towards lighting. The conference programme also comprises keynotes and presentations by major architects.

The team of organisers look forward to publishing further exciting updates and developments over the coming months, all of which will be communicated regularly through the official PLDC website and the PLDC countdown blog.

Louise Ritter

“It is overwhelming to see how PLDC is used as a platform and meeting point for different working groups and initiatives and how the convention has developed naturally to what it was created for: a professional network and stage for all players in the market to meet, educate and learn, and further the topic of architectural lighting design” concludes Louise Ritter, Project Manager of PLDC 2013.

See the full programme here and register to ensure being part of yet another milestone event!

PLDC 2013 is definitely the point of no return.

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Zumtobel Group Award


Award winners demonstrate impressive holistic and participatory approach to architecture

The Zumtobel Group Award was presented at a ceremony in a former power station in Berlin/D. This architectural award for the promotion of sustainability and humanity in the built environment carries a total purse of EUR 140,000. This year, the Zumtobel Group Award went to Michael Murphy and David Saladik from US-based architecture practice Mass Design Group for the Butaro Hospital project in Rwanda, and to Doina Petrescu and Constantin Petcou of atelier d’architecture autogérée (AAA) in France for their R-URBAN initiative in Colombes, a socially deprived suburb in the Greater Paris area.

Butaro Hospital project in Rwanda by Michael Murphy and David Saladik from US-based architecture practice Mass Design Group.

Both projects impressed the jury and the invited guests with their holistic view of architecture, their collaboration with other disciplines and non-profit organisations, and their participatory approach to involving the local people in both the planning and execution phases. “Tonight we are delighted to honour two young architectural practices serving as a role model for sustainability and humanity,” said Zumtobel Group CEO Harald Sommerer in his congratulatory address to the award winners. “They have developed pioneering solutions for solving especially social issues in the developing as well as the Western world. They have arrived at very innovative approaches when working together with other disciplines.”
The laudation for Mass Design was given by Kunlé Adeyemi, founder of NLÉ Architects, Amsterdam and a member of the jury: “We came to the conclusion largely because this project demonstrated a lot of sensitivity in their approach in architecture and in the methodology of working and, of course, the result is still quite beautiful.” The transparent trophy, designed by Sawaya & Moroni, was presented by Dale Tasharski, Senior Commercial Officer at the US Embassy in Berlin. “Thank you so much, this is just an unbelievable honour,” said a delighted Michael Murphy from Mass Design. “When we were told about this award, we went back to Rwanda and met with the Minister of Health and we told her about this award, and they were so overjoyed to imagine that the building that they had supported would now be recognized internationally for its design and its commitment to health that they have gone on to suggest how we can improve all of their infrastructure of health in their country and how we can bring architects and designers to Rwanda.” Mass Design will be using the prize money to set up their own Mass Design Lab for the development of new strategies for the improvement of buildings and communities through design.

Butaro Hospital project in Rwanda by Michael Murphy and David Saladik from US-based architecture practice Mass Design Group.

The award winners in the second category, Research & Initiative, were presented with their trophy by Johann Krausl, Commercial Counsellor at the Austrian Embassy in Berlin. In her laudation, Ute Meta Bauer, member of the jury and Dean of the Fine Arts Department at the Royal College of Art in London, underlined the exceptionally well thought-out concept behind the project. “What makes this project so robust is its complexity. Although R-Urban is specific to its locale – it can be adapted to various contexts – in short: to almost everywhere. The project might be small in scale compared with urban master plans – but it’s great in its ambition.” In an emotional acceptance speech, the two award winners related what it was like “to start in 2003 from zero and just from desire and hope to do something to be important for all the people, to offer the possibility to act, to create local jobs, etc. It opens strategies; everyone can be a partner on the projects,” said Doina Petrescu and Constantin Petcou. The two architects and activists will be using the prize money to further the realisation of the project, in particular to foster concepts that promote the dissemination of knowledge.





R-URBAN initiative in Colombes, a socially deprived suburb in the Greater Paris area by Constantin Petcou of atelier d’architecture autogérée (AAA) in France.















Zumtobel sustainability award
Buzz word “sustainability” – projects and beliefs

By Joachim Ritter

Ecologically sustainable construction should be a matter of course. The fact that society in general as well as experts spend so much time discussing the issue is indication enough that mistakes have been made in the past – either architecture was regarded as some kind of luxury commodity or the built results were not good enough to warrant declared satisfaction. The kind of architecture presented today as state-of-the-art does not demonstrate that we are living in structures that are in harmony with nature, however. On the contrary, many exist at the expense of nature. Why are we now focussing so much attention on this topic? Should it not be an integral part of the quality of the structures we design and build to conserve natural resources and keep costs as low as possible without ignoring the needs and requirements of the people living or working in them?

There are quite obviously many professionals who do not consider it part of their daily routine to constantly think about eco-friendly or cost-efficient building. This does not mean to say that every architectural project should be subject to the same criteria. That would be tantamount to squeezing all human beings into the same format, which would restrict their freedom on all levels. Not even societies that only two decades ago prided themselves on structuring classless societies would view this point of departure as applicable to architecture.

The winners of the Zumtobel sustainability award are not the kind of projects that appeal to the wide majority of architects, let alone reflect actual practice. This was also reflected in the number of guests attending the awards ceremony. Not because it is not necessary or sensible to be more cautious and responsible when designing buildings, but because there is not a sufficiently sized lobby at present, and intelligent building concepts are simply more complex than the norm – too complex for many. The importance of the Zumtobel Group Award does not relate to realities marked by unrestrained capitalism and careless extravagance. This Award draws attention to the fact that there are not enough truly sustainable projects to justify them being the norm, but that they do demonstrate professional and successful design.

What does that mean for the lighting design community? Sustainability is one of the main topics driving change in the lighting world. Many clients, architects and designers wrongly see energy saving and light quality as being contradictory. For decades now efficiency has been a prime goal of lighting technology. For some it is the only issue that comes to mind when they are thinking or talking about light. And yet light and lighting are predestined to be part of sustainable design and the creative ideas that can enhance our quality of life. What we must not do is fool ourselves into believing that sustainability is the equivalent of replacing all conventional light sources with LEDs. As strange as it might sound for some people, even solid state lighting solutions can be applied wrongly.

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