A Tale of Two Cities
Laura Van Zeyl

Just returning from the High Point Market in North Carolina and Lightfair in Philadelphia back-to-back, my brain is processing a range of trends, from highly technological and purely aesthetic. There's plenty happening on both fronts, which will all be covered in upcoming issues of Residential Lighting. But for some immediate takeaways, I can group many of the directions I saw at each show under a single umbrella.

For High Point, a recurring theme -- for both lighting and furniture (always a good indicator of longevity) -- was The New Traditional. The main idea behind these looks, which were even serendipitously given that same title across several showrooms where it was on display, is to provide fresh designs for a new generation of consumers while still providing recognizable touchstones of traditional forms. The need for traditional roots either stems from personal preferences, with the reassurance of its tried-and-true pedigree as a safe selection, or simply because the majority of homes still incorporate traditional architecture, where modern (or even transitional) designs can appear incongruous.

The most common way to update was to pare down a traditional silhouette to its essence, removing any extraneous details that would otherwise encumber it with fussiness. Another angle was to give it an unexpected color or material, or incorporate a clever combination of materials. These looks were both irreverent in their relaxed approach and respectful in their homage to the past. In other words: just right.

At Lightfair, the dominant story centered around warmer color temperatures for LED. In both bulbs and fixtures, new options emerged at 2700K or below. And in recessed lighting — both retrofit and new construction — many more companies followed Juno Lighting’s lead from last Lightfair and created LED fixtures that changed color temperature as they were dimmed by shifting power from white to amber LEDs, similar to the “candelight” effect that naturally occurs with incandescent lighting when it is dimmed.

Allowing a single LED bulb or fixture (or a harmonious group) to be “tuned” to a preferred color temperature was another major direction at the show. This range included warmer temperatures as well as cooler ones or even colored light, allowing an end-user to set a desired mood or appropriate light for a particular task. The gimmick of a clever control (or being able to control from mobile devices) will likely be the big draw as these products hit the market.

Perhaps the most important trend, though, at both of these events was their high attendance. I haven’t seen official figures for either one yet, but it was visibility apparent that traffic was up. And, just as significant, the enthusiasm and positive energy present was palpable.

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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