As you will know by now, we regularly maintain that IP44.de is the best outdoor lighting company. The evidence we provide is usually images and information on their lights.
But, as with any organization, the quality and character are determined, well or badly, from the top. So this post is, untypically, more words than images, because we want you to hear from Bernd Schmalhorst, the managing director, in his own words, what he stands for.
? Mr. Schmalhorst, a luminaire is simply a luminaire, surely. Or is it?
! Yes, at first glance you're right. Every luminaire gives light. But this is where the similarities come to an end. Particularly where outside lights are concerned, there is a huge range of industrially produced models that reveal a lack of aesthetic ambition with dubious technical features while showing functional problems. Some LED outside lights produce far less light, or even no light at all, after only a few months, to say nothing of their unattractive appearance.
? As an SME company which also produces solely in Germany, today you are a real outsider on the luminaire market.
! That's exactly why we've been so successful. As an independent SME business, we can remain true to our creed of aesthetically outstanding and technologically pioneering outside lights. We can afford to develop technologies such as WavePipe and IvyLight because they raise outside lights to a completely new level of quality. And we can offer our customers a highly labour-intensive yet aesthetic material such as stainless steel.
? You are one of the first to discover this fascinating material for outside use.
! When I started 20 years ago, outside lights were black or white, or made of copper. I found that very boring. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is a wonderful material with a very special radiance and, when looked after properly, practically infinite durability. However, painstaking manual labour is required for edging, welding and brushing stainless steel, which is where you need a manufactory like ours. This is why you won't find top quality stainless steel luminaires for outside use from any major industrial manufacturer. They just can't do it.
? However, your quality also has its price.
! Henry Royce once said: "Quality will remain long after the price is forgotten". He's quite right. Even so, the prices for our contract models are absolutely on a par with those of our competitors. Furthermore, we offer architects and planners a huge added value. They will find that our portfolio contains the right luminaire for every task and every requirement. Our Scap and Quantum models, for example, are available in two designs, fitted with a discharge lamp, low-voltage or LED system, and in a range of different surface finishes and sizes. This means that there is no longer any need to run around from one manufacturer to the next when planning a building: instead, all necessary solutions can be found in one and the same portfolio. In other words, we help planners to save time and money.
? You have also launched many models fitted with LED systems in recent years. And yet LED technology is being increasingly criticised.
! Yes, this is because there are huge differences here too. At IP44.de, we don't simply stuff LEDs into conventional luminaires. Instead, we design our LED outside lights as products that have gone through a holistic optimization process in terms of thermal, technological and functional attributes. Thanks to our IvyLight technology, they can operate for more than two decades without having to change the lamps. It's important to remember one thing: every time you open an outside light and handle the sealing gasket and housing, this reduces its suitability for outdoor use.
? And in the LED outside lights, it's not even possible for the customer to replace the light module.
! That's right. In many technically immature LED luminaires, the performance of the lamp starts to decline in next to no time. But replacing the LED module is not an easy task and particularly not one to be done by the customer. This is why every customer is well advised to pay attention to top quality when purchasing an LED outside light. Otherwise there will be trouble ahead.
? One thing that's immediately apparent: your outside lights don't look at all like outside lights at first glance.
! That's because they are aesthetically as perfect as the excellent interior lights - at least, that's our claim. And so today you'll find our luminaires in many unusually attractive locations in Europe, the USA and Asia. Actually, that's the greatest compliment we can receive.
? Which luminaire designs do you like personally?
! One of my first childhood memories is the Globe by Verner Panton, a wonderful acrylic luminaire that my parents had in their house. Today I am particularly fond of the artistic approach taken by Ingo Maurer. I am also a great fan of Axel Meise, whose Occhio has managed to introduce a systematic approach to internal lighting.
? Your mission statement says: "Every space deserves great light". What does that actually mean?
! It's quite simple. There are lots of aesthetic, imaginative and fascinating luminaires. But, strangely enough, scarcely any for outside. And yet it is the outside of a home, prestigious building or company headquarters that a visitor sees first of all. Outside is where we spend many of the happiest hours of the year. Reason enough, we think, to give the outside a few really unusual bright spots.
The picture at the head of this post is of Base, a new introduction.
It is their first in-ground luminaire...
...and uses their innovative Ivylight LED technology. It is topped by a frameless housing of black glass, over which a bollard can be mounted: