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Seeing the light: a round-up

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Designers can be forgiven for thinking that LEDs are the most commonly specified lighting equipment available. But their predominance in terms of coverage far outweighs their current penetration of the market. It is quite possible that in a decade's time they will be all pervasive, with manufacturers such as Color Kenetics, Crescent Lighting's CL Optic and ACDC Lighting leading the way in product design (but remember, anyone quoting a 100,000 hour lamp life for LED technology should be viewed with suspicion. Most manufacturers have scaled their claims back to about 40,000 hours, in optimum conditions). However, designers should ensure that they keep up to date with relatively standard technology that is being designed intelligently now.

Unobtrusive style Whitegoods has a new range of light fittings designed to virtually disappear into the architecture of a space. A clever plaster-in housing system has been combined with a 'push click' tool-free installation method. The finished result is a featureless lightsource, seeming to emanate from the architecture itself.

Crucially, all the fittings conform to either a 100mm or 150mm size, whether square, round or linear, and regardless of the lamp type. They even have matching wall-recessed ceiling or floor wash lights. Designers could use a single unobtrusive style to light every space within a building - even the WCs. The range has been thought through in painstaking detail, with simplicity of specification an important factor. All linear fluorescent fittings are, as standard, switchable or dimmable by 1-10V, DSI, or DALI. If the function of the space changes, many of the fittings can be interchanged by simply clicking out one type of light source and clicking the new one back in.

Encapsulite's improved MT50 luminaire is a simple but useful linear fluorescent light for tough environments. It is a 50mm diameter tube with all components housed internally, and is suitable for exterior use, or for example in swimming baths (although not underwater) where chlorine will corrode many fittings. The frosted-tube option (MT50SC) provides instant techno chic.

Also from Encapsulite, the well-known Sticklite now comes in a waterproof version. It allows designers to have a stick of light barely larger than the fluorescent tube itself, with the control gear mounted in a separate box up to a metre away. The gearbox can be waterproof too. The T5 SLB (Staggered Link Batten) is useful for the ubiquitous lighting cove detail, and if the cove is properly detailed, can help achieve continuous light with no unsightly gaps. The battens are paired up and attached at one end in such a way that they can be swivelled out to form a fitting nearly double the length, but with a 100mm overlap. They can then be used in conjunction with further units to create a continuous run.

Of all iGuzzini's recent products, the most useful is the Systema Easy MH-HAL range of wall-wash fittings. They have all the right ingredients: a fixed angled reflector, a spread lens diffuser, and a good range of light sources to choose from. If you have spent much time looking for simple, surface-mounted fittings that have little or no visual affectations, you will appreciate the Vision luminaire. In two sizes - 120mm diameter (40Wt halogen) or 270mm (22W circular fluorescent) - they are only 110mm deep. Their only distinguishing feature is a 'high-thickness' pressed glass diffuser, which is less obtrusive than it sounds.

Getting the balance right Concord: Marlin's new catalogue is a veritable door stop but has produced a real rarity:

a genuine product innovation. The Kometa luminaire is a response to the changing theory of best practice in office lighting.

It addresses the importance of a balance between light falling on ceilings and walls as well as on the horizontal plane, and combines indirect light with diffused ambient light and direct downlight. The manufacturer claims it improves conditions to such an extent that 30 per cent fewer fittings are required, against a standard approach.

In theory, it should eliminate the need for separate downlights, uplights and wall-wash fittings to be used in the same space.

Artemide's mostly decorative range is designed with performance in mind. One has to bear in mind that on the continent, even non-designers buy what many of us would consider exotic lighting for their homes. One of Artemide's more curious offerings is a. l. s. o. , a range of objects that aims to provide total control over the environment by controlling light and sound, and even has electrostatic filters to cleanse the air. Any colour can be emitted as a static or changing colour, sound can be linked to a stereo and the whole thing can be controlled with a presence detector.

Slightly more straightforward, Artemide's beautiful new pendant fitting, NUR, is available with some sensible lamp options, including a 70W compact fluorescent, and a colour filter can also be incorporated. Cleverly, the colour fills the pendant, but 'white' light is still emitted downwards.

Douglas James is director at Minds Eye 3D Lighting Design

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