Whitehead is advocating for energy-efficient yet beautiful fixtures. “We as lighting designers are pushing the energy-efficient manufacturers to give us something that’s closer to the feel, look and color of dimmed incandescent light. That’s what people want,” he says.
Although Title 24 excludes the other 49 states, energy costs are rising everywhere and Whitehead asserts changing light bulbs is an easy task people can do to save energy. “There’s a transitional period to using these products,” Whitehead says. “Look at the auto industry. People transition to hybrid cars because of the cost of gas. It’s not always their first choice, but they’re going to do it because they need to look at the bottom line.” Similarly, people will transition to CFLs and LEDs as energy costs rise and these light sources prove to reduce the bottom line. “As we see regulation and standardization of the amount of light they emit, the color, color consistency and dimmability, then people, including contractors, will be more confident in purchasing these products,” Whitehead continues.
Dross predicts light-switch mechanisms will communicate with smart meters to affect energy efficiency. (For more information about smart meters, see “Technology Trends,” March issue, page 46.) “The switch guys are a lot further ahead of the light-bulb people in that technology,” he says. “I’m sitting in my office and I have a photo sensor with a little switch on it so if I wanted to I could switch it, but I haven’t touched the switch for three years. When I’m at my desk it doesn’t shut my office lights off, but if it senses inactivity for about 10 minutes, it turns my lights off. This is the kind of thing I suspect you’ll see more of in residences. Parents have been yelling at children since light bulbs came into a house to shut the lights off. Now this photo sensor will do the job for them. Connecting that into a whole smart home will become the way to go.” Dross also anticipates more lights that measure the amount of daylight coming into a room and automatically adjust accordingly.
Getting the Right Look
Furniture design drives lighting design, and Dross comments about how furniture companies are selling more contemporary products. “Lighting, because we are subservient to the aesthetics of the room, is now trending more contemporary,” he says. “Even the folks who call themselves more traditional are actually moving toward what I call transitional. It’s not contemporary but not as hard traditional. Instead of having 80 pieces of crystal on a chandelier, maybe you have only six or 12 and you might have one scroll on an arm as opposed to four or five. The edges are a lot straighter and designs are cleaner.”
Mini pendants are also gaining in popularity, particularly in the bathroom and kitchen. “The best way to light a bathroom mirror is to have one light on each side of the mirror,” Dross explains. “Most of us live in a world where the lighting in the bathroom isn’t very good. The move now is to put mini pendants on each side of the mirror. Having light on either side reduces glare and is better for aging eyes.” Some kitchens also employ mini pendants, particularly over islands in kitchens that have more than one island. “The multiple island concept in newer kitchens allows for some interested, varied aesthetic choices for lighting,” Dross says.
Tall ceilings require taller lighting fixtures to fill the vertical space. “In some cases the room they’re going into is shrinking so the fixture is taller but more compact in width,” Dross says. “You almost have these little silo shapes instead of the rectangular shape we’re accustomed to.”
Dross, a 38-year veteran in the lighting industry, observes when the economy is in a slump, designs change more rapidly. “I’ve been in lighting my whole life and, assuming I retire at a normal time, the last 10 years of my career are going to be the most interesting, exciting and relevant of what ultimately will turn out to be a nearly 50-year career,” he says. “Buckle your seat belts because it’s going to be fun.”