CONFERENCE PREVIEW | LightFair prepares to bring immersive, illuminating education to NYC

April 24, 2023
CARRIE MEADOWS shares what event organizers say LightFair attendees can expect from its educational sessions and tradeshow activities under new distribution of responsibilities between IES and IALD.

Last June, professionals in the lighting industry hit the Las Vegas Convention Center's West Hall to earn continuing education units, meet with nearly 300 exhibitors, and learn what projects, trends, and research have occurred in the community in the past year. The upbeat mood at LightFair 2022 showed that the industry was ready to engage again in-person — although perhaps less frequently, in order to accommodate exhibitor and attendee budgets and structure events around longer product release cycles. Beginning with the 2023 edition, which will be held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York, LightFair will become a biennial event, organizers announced in October.

LightFair followers may also recall that last July, event owners International Market Centers (IMC), Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), and International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) revealed a new structure in which IES staff would develop the conference’s core educational program and LightFair LIVE events, while IALD representatives would manage the tradeshow's Designery, with 10 on-floor lighting design sessions and events dedicated to educational presentations and live installations.

Conference organizers recently detailed to LEDs some changes that they expect will better serve the attendee schedules, allowing them to learn new and updated standards and practices, attend workshops, and see products applied through design demonstrations.

Meeting structured and freeform needs

LightFair show director Dan Darby and IES director of education Brienne Musselman elaborated on how the shift in conference and show-floor responsibilities would leverage IES’ strengths and meet the expectations of lighting professionals.

With more than 170 hours of educational programming to manage — and more than double the class choices as compared to last year —the conference advisory committee “reached new efficiencies,” they said, by holding only one in-person meeting and relying on remote collaboration to bring ideas to fruition. Advisers have also incorporated a two-hour break in the conference schedule for lunch and tradeshow time “so attendees can build their schedule balanced between courses and the show floor,” Darby said.

LightFair 2023 attendees can also plan their experience with the help of curated “Lightineraries,” preset schedules covering professional growth, environment and sustainability, light and health, or integration sessions. Registrants can still customize their agenda by selecting individual courses and sessions across the art, business, science, technology, and process tracks.

IES is “focused on high-impact education in less time, so we’ve moved away from two-day courses completely, allowing for flexibility in attendee schedules,” Musselman said, adding that workshops will range between three-hour and one-day options. In addition, those seeking to complete the National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions (NCQLP) lighting certification exam will be able to attend LightFair's first-ever in-person LC study group, hosted by Craig Bernecker, professor of lighting design at Parsons School of Design and founder of The Lighting Education Institute.

IES has also taken on organizing the LightFair LIVE show-floor presentations, speaker networking opportunities, and the LightFair Sales Stars. The two-hour program will pit 10 lighting sales professionals against each other in a fast-paced competition that tests their skills in selling randomly assigned products within 2–3 minute pitches to panelists Shirley Coyle, Mark Lien, Randy Reid, Erik Ennen, and Bob Preston.

Keynote addresses the power of darkness

LightFair’s 2023 keynote will be presented by Karen Treviño, who serves as Natural Sounds and Night Skies division chief for the National Park Service. Treviño will explain how her division collects data to help national parks safeguard an engaging experience for visitors while maintaining the needs of the park ecosystem, preserving the sensorial landscape for future generations. She will share the challenges of turning the initially small program into a national success, as well as outlining how outdoor lighting can impact natural resources, in her presentation, “Chasing Darkness Into the Light: Preserving Night Skies in National Parks.”

Immersive experience inspires circular design

In November, IALD launched a call for Immersive Lighting Installations, which will be showcased in the Designery area (Booth 3123) on the show floor. The IALD committee asked architectural and commercial lighting manufacturers to submit a proposal of an installation concept around the theme of the “circular economy.” Entrants were narrowed down to seven finalists and partnered with New Yorkbased lighting design teams by IALD to develop a design plan, select their showcase products, and execute the installation in 400 square feet of exhibit space by opening tradeshow day, May 23.

“For the first time ever, LightFair attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by a high-design lighting competition across the show floor,” said Lea Tranakos, executive director of customer relations and tradeshow leasing at LightFair. “I have had the pleasure of working with the IALD to oversee every stage of the inaugural Immersive Lighting Installation design contest and cannot wait for LightFair attendees to see these notable brands’ and designers’ hard work deliver the ‘wow factor’ of lighting.”

A jury will assess the lighting installations “for conceptual clarity, collaborative presentation, and thematic execution,” according to a LightFair media announcement. IALD plans to evaluate the installations and announce the “Best Overall” execution by 5 p.m. EDT on May 23. The Immersive Lighting Installations will be open for visitors all three exhibition days.

The seven teams include:

  • Brian Stacy, ARUP Lighting Design, with Casambi.
  • David Ghatan, CM Kling Dynamic Architectural Lighting Design, with Boca Flasher.
  • Teal Brogden, HLB Lighting Design, with Lumenpulse.
  • Carla Ross Allen, Fisher Marantz Stone, with Focal Point Lights.
  • Suzan Tillotson, Tillotson Design Associates, with Traxon e:cue.
  • Emad Hasan, The Lighting Practice, with Cooledge Lighting.
  • Jack Bailey, One Lux Studio, with Experience Brands.

The circular economy topic has spurred a number of industry interest groups and educational efforts including the development of guidelines for life cycle assessment, products and materials transparency programs, best practices for localized sourcing and manufacturing, design for disassembly, and more. Participants at recent events from LightSPEC West to the newly launched Remanufacturing Lighting conference to LEDucation have provided updates on industry consortia, independent certification programs, and specific organizational tactics intended to relieve supply-chain concerns; reduce physical waste as well as carbon emissions; simplify product assembly, installation, and deconstruction; and minimize known toxic substances across the building and lighting sector. The installations aim to demonstrate the exciting possibilities that result when sustainability, dynamic design experience, and functional lighting products intersect in the built environment.

The LightFair 2023 conference runs May 21–25, while the tradeshow floor will be open May 23–25. Visit for the full schedule and registration details.

CARRIE MEADOWS is managing editor of LEDs Magazine, with 20-plus 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.

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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.