It's great to see manufacturers continuing to challenge specifiers' imaginations, as the glamorous range of products recently launched at the Salone del Mobile Euroluce lighting fair shows (pages 28-30). But what is equally vital is that product designers find new ways to get their architect friends on side, by helping and, more importantly, protecting their specification.
And that is precisely the adventure on which lighting company Zumtobel is about to embark. Under its new company-wide training scheme, all customer-facing staff will undergo a rigorous two to three year training course, comprising nine modules and at a cost to the company of up to £15,000 per person.
The golden egg, the qualification and title 'lighting solutions consultant', will apparently allow Zumtobel reps to speak an 'architectural language' to specifiers, thus making for better, more intelligent communication all around. And Zumtobel hopes the rewards may be more commercially quantifiable than simply that warm fuzzy feeling one gets from a job well done.
For example, part of one module involves the fi ner points of integrating interior lighting components with solar control by using sophisticated measuring devices, but all under the banner of lighting design.
The benefi ts of natural daylight in offices, healthcare buildings and schools have been proved time and again, so why not take this one step further?
An intelligent control system could monitor the level of light entering a building and activate blinds and artificial lighting accordingly. Add automatic temperature-change detection and natural ventilation and your sustainable building could essentially run itself - a possibility that Zumtobel will talk to its customers about in more depth than it does at present.
The other carrot for both manufacturers and architects is that, if all the elements are integrated, it may be more difficult for a contractor to break the specification of individual products - an interesting proposition with the growth of design-and-build projects.
In the future, there may be scope for training to move outside, with companies like Zumtobel offering architectural customers specific qualifications across a number of areas. But that certainly won't make the role of the lighting designer redundant. In our Lighting theme on pages 19-26, Jonathan Morrish looks at how lighting schemes are borrowing heavily from the theatre environment to create dramatic effects, inside and out. It's a whole new level of complexity and one for which there is no substitute for the lighting designer's expertise.