Euroluce is so big, and by far the most important event for decorative lighting, that it is a bellwether for the state of the industry, helped by the fact that it only takes place once every two years – it is easier to see trends over the longer timescale.
So what were the trends this year?
Customers are back!
By the weekend, exhibitors were buoyant. After a quiet Tuesday, Wednesday to Friday had been exceptionally busy. Who with? Well, obviously not Europeans, thanks to the continuing destructive effect of the EU on their economies. No, it was the Russians who were back, supplemented by substantial contingents from the Far East and, to an unprecedented level, the Indians. To those of us who are involved in international luxury projects, this is fantastic news and is backed up by the levels of activity we have all seen since the beginning of the year.
Changes of Ownership
Most well-known lighting companies were created by a married couple or a small team of individuals. The brand is a direct reflection of who they are. Therefore we greet news that a brand has been sold with interest (and some trepidation). This year’s Euroluce was a chance to catch up with the stories behind the many recent changes of ownership, and to see what effect there has been on production.
Erik at Tekna is still fully involved, and fizzing with ideas. It is difficult to see him spending the rest of his days on the beach, whatever Véronique may have in mind! He has introduced the modular pendant light of which you can see a pink version of on their stand, below. (Note that most of the new lights on most of the stands are not yet on the market, so I will not be going into them in detail yet.)
Also fizzing was Andrea Citterio, the new owner of Penta. He has great plans for the company – there were sixteen new introductions on the stand! This is a version of Clip:
The most interesting change, because it is so subtle, is to Art et Floritude. Sophie and her husband are away enjoying the fruit of their labours. The stand looked superficially familiar from a distance but, close up, it is as if the designs have acquired a new depth, a clarity, an elegance…thanks to Virginie Kompalitch, the charming new owner, who brings the perfect background: an engineer, who has also been, since 2010, a partner in the oh-so-cool Wuhao Curated Shop in Peking – according to Wallpaper*, “one of the 20 terrific reasons to visit China”!
There are companies, some of them very well-known, that are in financial difficulties. They are not paying their suppliers, which means it will be difficult for them to fulfil orders – a serious problem if you’ve paid for goods in advance. But they had found the funds for a stand in Milan, so you’d assume that everything is as normal. This demonstrates the danger of specifying something from a company that you don’t know much about (and why our deep knowledge of the industry is so important to you).
Euroluce is a chance to discover new brands – or, more typically, to experience for the first time products only previously seen online. Two relative newcomers that we had been particularly looking forward to meeting, and which exceeded our expectations, were Lambert et Fils from Montreal:
and the extraordinary Danish-Italian brand Astep. They have made a flying start, with very strong mid-century revivals, and innovative cordless technology. This is Gino Sarfatti’s Model 2065 from 1950:
You are going to hear a lot more about Astep, and not only from me. The Model 2065 above was a Wallpaper* Design Awards 2017 winner, and Candela an Elle Deco International Design Awards 2017 winner.
The established Czech glass company, Bomma, has introduced lighting collections, including Phenomena from one of our favourite glass design studios, Dechem. The surprise was how big they are (and this is shaming—you’d think we’d been at this long enough not make that mistake. Again….)
(Ballsonsticks® is our humorous way of referring to the trend started in 2006 by Lindsay Adelman with her Branching Bubble chandelier.) Well, they haven’t yet gone away. The balls are getting smaller, they are frosted, they are closed at the end, and they are not necessarily on the ends of the sticks. You’ve already seen above one of Lambert et Fils’ contributions to the genre. The most endearing – and useful, and clever – are Neri & Hu’s Yanzi for Artemide that reflect the influence of the Areti sisters. Like birds on a wire. Here’s just a few:
We like cones. The proportions have to be right, though, and the materials – often galvanized aluminium, which is also a Good Thing. Some are upside down now. Penta showed this, and the biggest cone at the Fair, as part of their new Narciso collection:
Some rings now hang vertically, and even interlock. Here is the wonderful rattan Double Orbit form Ango demonstrating both these characteristics:
There was hardly a stand that did not have a cordless light on it, whether it was a re-engineering of an existing design, such as Santa & Cole’s Cestita, with its proper glass diffuser:
or a new typology, a striking example of which is Davide Groppi’s Quiquoqua. The light is like a puck which attaches itself magnetically to a reflector plate. This means that you can hang the light wherever you like – it does not need a power feed:
Almost everybody uses mobile phone technology and plugs, with all the attendant disadvantages. The exception was Astep, that had on their stand not one, but two, different forms of charging – one of them truly revolutionary! See Candela on their web site.
This is the best thing that has happened to decorative lighting: there is no point continually producing mediocre new designs whilst letting the great designs of the past go out of production, so that they are only available through galleries and 1st Dibs. We were therefore thrilled to see Astep very active in this area, and that Santa & Cole have bought the rights to Gira, originally made by Mobles 114. They have re-engineered it to suit easily available lamp shapes, which is good. The base is not now so satisfying, though. But it is still, in its simplicity, one of the great light designs:
Best of all, though, from our point of view, is the rediscovery of Carlo Nason, the Murano designer arguably one most the most significant figures in the development of contemporary light design. His most influential work was done for Kalmar and Mazzega, the latter of which announced the re-issue of several of his models, such as the LT338 in various typologies:
Then, to our surprise, Venini have brought into their catalogue his iconic curved triedri pendant:
Finally, one mark of British cultural superiority is our understanding that every single light in a residential property, inside or out, even just 1W, must be dimmable by a central control system that is programmed by a professional before the property is occupied. Amazingly, in other countries, they think that the light levels should be set by the people in the room, to the level they want, at that moment. As a result, there were lots of remote control systems, mostly operated from smartphones. The Flos system even changed the direction spot lights point in. Though many used Casambi, others had developed their own software (meaning that it is incompatible with products from any other brand). From the UK’s perspective, it is a disaster, because none of them will be compatible with the preprogrammed scenes of legacy domotic systems. Whither 1-10V? Whither DALI…? At least all that extra wiring will no longer be needed. Of course, this should not be a surprise: we’ve been reading about the Internet of Things for some time now: Euroluce showed us what this means in action.
I plan discrete posts about ballsonsticks®, cones, cordless and mid-century so that you can see more examples. But this is enough trends news for now.