Designers, builders, and owners prepare for dynamic learning at LightSPEC West

Aug. 24, 2022
Los Angeles conference will spark conversations on design for inclusion, the unification of beauty and functionality within built environments, and ways to stop siloing business and creative strategies, explains CARRIE MEADOWS.

The inaugural LightSPEC West conference and exhibition takes place Sept. 21–22, 2022 at the Magic Box @ the Reef in Los Angeles, showcasing design and innovation in lighting for the built environment. Carefully curated by top industry experts, LightSPEC West is a networking, education, and solutions platform for specifiers and buyers of commercial and residential lighting and controls.

“LightSPEC West provides a dynamic experience to meet the needs of the West coast architecture and lighting design community,” LightSPEC program director Clifton Stanley Lemon said.

With a program covering a wide range of topics vital to building designers, owners, and operators, the two-day conference and expo includes networking events, site tours, product showcases, and CEU-accredited educational material in plenary and individual sessions as well as panel discussions.

Practice and perspective drive program

The LightSPEC West program revolves around themes emerging in contemporary architecture and lighting design: views and daylight; design for operations and maintenance; beauty and delight in design; lighting and the evolution of smart buildings; dynamic emerging business and organizational models; new directions in materials, manufacturing, and product design; career paths in lighting; healthy buildings; the future of work; and the impact of equity, inclusive design, and environmental justice.

Economic, social, and environmental conditions today present a potent mix of challenges for all businesses — including the lighting, architecture, building, and construction industries.

Some of these topics can been found in other event lineups but rarely in such an integrated manner. Many LightSPEC West sessions will provide analyses of macro trends and directions in these sectors, business insights, and new perspectives that can stimulate creative thinking and inform crucial strategic decisions.

“LightSPEC West is designed to appeal to design and construction professionals as well as to building owners and operators. We have built into our program speakers who represent the audiences we serve,” Lemon said.

“Design professionals are constantly balancing rapidly changing technology; aesthetics, health, and environmental quality; evolutions in scope, design practice, and project delivery methods; changing business models; and new several industry organizations,” he continued. Building owners and operators are significantly impacted by COVID and the ensuing work-from-home trend. We have some big problems today — we need big answers and imaginative new ways of seeing the problems in the first place.”

Keynotes challenge convention

Lux Populi director Thomas Paterson will kick off the Sept. 21 program with his session “Craft and the Creativity Myth.” At Strategies in Light two years ago, he spoke to an audience comprising mainly lighting product-development and engineering professionals about leveraging the measurable qualities of light to provoke a certain perspective or experience in the built environment. At LightSPEC West, Paterson plans to offer more pragmatic insights as to how the creative process can be nurtured and developed in a team approach for project delivery.

“Aesthetic outcomes will typically be the side effect of great design that produces measurable outcomes,” Paterson said. “Designing to serve a client’s purpose — whether that’s revenue, identity, or experience — tends to produce great lighting.” He mused that on the whole, design and build professionals must accept that “creative design and engineering fundamentals aren’t in conflict. Both are the craft which together defines our results. One doesn’t ask the carpenter how the wood’s grain limits their furniture, it informs it!”

On Thursday, Sept. 22, Brooks + Scarpa Architects principal Lawrence Scarpa will present “Discover through design: A journey toward light.” Scarpa and managing principal Angela Brooks are the recipients of this year’s Gold Medal honor from The American Institute of Architects (AIA). The award-winning firm's expansive portfolio includes residential, educational, cultural, and institutional projects; urban outdoor environments; and entertainment studio facilities. Brooks + Scarpa is well known for its leadership in ecofriendly design, affordable housing, the novel use of materials, and fostering client participation in projects. Scarpa will both entertain and educate attendees in sharing the firm's dedication to blending art and construction and connecting people with places and experiences.

“Our practice of architecture is very much about seeing a building as a sequence of spaces and not primarily a form,” Scarpa said. “We think of how space is experienced first; we design from the inside out. Light for us is a primary material, an available resource of the site, and one of the most important things that shapes how we understand and inhabit a building.

“We’re constantly exploring architectural ways of having a deep conversation with light in a building, such as screens and other elements that mitigate and manage glare and strong daylight,” he continued. “We feel that since light is such an integral part of architecture, lighting people should be more involved in the dialogue about building in the future.”

Track 1: Prioritizing environmental health

LightSPEC Track 1 conference sessions and panels will address the relationship between healthy buildings and the future of work. Leading-edge research into the impact of views and daylight on both occupant health and real estate value brings these topics into focus in a compelling way, Lemon explained, and such investigation broadens the scope for lighting experts to be part of the whole building design process that is increasingly becoming part of project delivery methods.

The program calls upon designers from Mazzetti, HLB Lighting, Oculus Light Studio, and Arup, U.S. federal program representative Judith Heerwagen of the General Services Administration, and Fernhill Shopworks managing director John Arthur Wilson to define healthy lighting, qualify its value, and articulate the return on investment from integrated lighting and controls designs to facilities owners and managers.

As a “Renaissance of light quality” event keynote speaker two years past, HLB Lighting president and senior principal Teal Brogden engaged the audience with examples of projects employing layered LED lighting to express the holistic story of the built environment and its surrounding architecture. At LightSPEC West, Brogden and her colleague Venna Resurreccion will drive conversation about the dynamics of daylighting and views and discuss why these are the purview of the entire architectural and design team.

When asked how daylighting changes the designer’s approach, Resurreccion said, “Daylight is a necessity for the physiological and mental wellbeing of occupants, and electric lighting alone cannot fully replace it. ... When designing lighting for an enclosed space, we can consider the right atmosphere and meet recommended light levels with electric lighting. But through the thoughtful partnership of electric and natural light, we can create dynamic environments that are beautiful, practical, and satisfying.”

Resurreccion noted that their LightSPEC West presentation will demonstrate through case studies how architects and designers should work together on daylight strategies “at the conceptual stages of a project to help guide and inform the architectural vision and material selection process” — ensuring that issues such as glare are not overlooked.

Track 2: Designing experiences for all

Moving on to Track 2, Lemon said that there are many ways to “delight” occupants and create beautiful spaces — no matter the budget or purpose. “It’s up to the design community to break free of limits, or rather, to deliver experiences that enhance lives, and that enable all members of society to live, work, and enjoy leisure time in meaningful spaces,” he said. “Many of our LightSPEC speakers will draw attendees with presentations that cover responsible yet advanced lighting and product design and manufacturing methods; sustainable practices; and inclusion of a variety of stakeholders across the project planning and execution processes.”

Speakers from firms such as BraytonHughes Design Studios, Sean O’Connor Lighting, Oyler Wu, Cienlux, Lighting Environments, and Glint Lighting will share practical experience, integrative design techniques, and advanced software and systems expertise to reinvigorate design professionals and project planning teams.

LEDs Magazine editorial director Wanda Lau covered several concepts for community lighting and public outreach in the July/August issue's projects feature. Architects and project managers sourced in that article concurred that they could not have delivered beautiful and thoughtful illumination experiences without engaging with local citizens, municipal authorities, and environmental groups that understood the dynamics of their urban locales and inhabitants — both human and otherwise!

Inclusivity and equity will receive equal weight alongside design techniques and business models on the LightSPEC program. Cienlux’s Oriana Romero embraces an empathetic route to lighting design. “In order to generate an inclusive lighting design, we need to go back to basics by reflecting on the relevance light and lighting have in our lives,” she said. “The true practice of lighting a space is rarely simply providing the minimum light required to see.”

Romero outlined the need to shape an inclusive design process by asking key questions: “How does the lighting condition we are about to design support and boost the community that will use the space? Who comprises the community? What are the social dynamics in the space? How can the lighting improve the experience? And one key question that is often disregarded: In which ways is the space meaningful to that community?” Romero will expand upon what she called a “sociologically focused approach” during the conference.

LGBTQIA+ activist and Intangible Light principal Alana Shepherd recently wrote that day-to-day concerns about marginalization and inequality not only impact individuals on a personal level, but they also influence the prospects for modernizing lighting practice and growing business through diversified talent and perspectives. As a panel moderator for “Inclusive design as a catalyst for change,” Shepherd will lead Solus’ Mariel Taviana Acevedo, Oculus Light Studio’s Archit Jain, and Lux Populi’s Paterson in discussion on how to expand the scope of design to embrace tools, programs, and training that will broaden lighting professionals’ abilities to address health and wellbeing, safety, and climate action; drive economic accessibility in design; and frame communications to support the public’s multifaceted needs.

Track 3: Business of built environments

In Track 3, LightSPEC speakers will introduce strategies for the business and economics side of design, ranging from career development in lighting and design to the role of the lighting agency and how building systems can be commissioned, analyzed, and managed more efficiently – meaning more profitably.

“Old business models need to fall by the wayside, with lighting supply-chain management being one example, Lemon saidLightSPEC attendees will discover novel technologies, disruptive service offerings, and other advantages to working with the ‘new guard’ of lighting agencies.”

Moderated by American Association of Independent Lighting Agents cofounder Billy Hodges, “The dynamic evolution of the lighting agency today” panelists will talk about the lighting supply-chain landscape and how the last several years have influenced a shift in business models and instigated new roles for services and solutions providers.

With a panel of systems and controls experts, California Energy Alliance executive director Josh Dean will examine the future of building operations, maintenance, and risk management through analytics, software tools, evaluation processes, and professional education.

Full-spectrum design education platform

The LightSPEC West schedule has more on the program than we can cover in this space, which has focused primarily on the conference sessions due to the timing of the speaker announcements and our publication. LightSPEC will offer AIA continuing education credits for many of the presentations; and networking events and site tours will likely be announced before LEDs Magazine's September issue lands in inboxes. More than 150 exhibitors will display and demonstrate lighting products on the show floor. Visit for conference and venue details and to register.

Program for this event is subject to change. All information is up to date as of the time of publication.

CARRIE MEADOWS is managing editor of LEDs Magazine, with 20 years’ experience in business-to-business publishing across technology markets including solid-state technology manufacturing, fiberoptic communications, machine vision, lasers and photonics, and LEDs and lighting.

Many thanks to CLIFTON STANLEY LEMON, program director of LightSPEC West, for contributing to this piece.

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About the Author

Clifton Stanley Lemon | Strategies in Light Conference Co-Chair

In addition to his roles as conference program director for LightSPEC West and LightSPEC Midwest events, Clifton is a contributor to LEDs Magazine and CEO of Clifton Lemon Associates, a consultancy providing strategy, marketing, and education services to the lighting and energy industries. He was formerly business development director for the California Energy Alliance; marketing communications manager for Soraa; director of business development at Integral Group; and founder and CEO of BrandSequence. An active writer and speaker and a past president of the Illuminating Engineering Society, San Francisco section, Clifton has extensive experience in curriculum development for professional training in lighting and energy efficiency. Along with Randall Whitehead, Clifton is the co-author of Beautiful Light: An Insider’s Guide to LED Lighting in Homes and Gardens (Taylor and Francis, 2021).

About the Author

Carrie Meadows | Editor-in-Chief, LEDs Magazine

Carrie Meadows has more than 20 years of experience in the publishing and media industry. She worked with the PennWell Technology Group for more than 17 years, having been part of the editorial staff at Solid State Technology, Microlithography World, Lightwave, Portable Design, CleanRooms, Laser Focus World, and Vision Systems Design before the group was acquired by current parent company Endeavor Business Media.

Meadows has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards, and has volunteered as a judge on several B2B editorial awards committees. She received a BA in English literature from Saint Anselm College, and earned thesis honors in the college's Geisel Library. Without the patience to sit down and write a book of her own, she has gladly undertaken the role of editor for the writings of friends and family.

Meadows enjoys living in the beautiful but sometimes unpredictable four seasons of the New England region, volunteering with an animal shelter, reading (of course), and walking with friends and extended "dog family" in her spare time.