Luminaire design under the sign of constant change
Pascal Amacker - Creative Director at RIBAG - talks in this interview about the trend towards miniaturisation of technology and its influence on the design of RIBAG luminaires.
Mr. Amacker, with the SPARK and MILUM collections, RIBAG has brought miniaturised lighting tools with high-precision light control to the market that were previously unavailable. Is this the beginning of a new era in the design of LED lights?
The fact that everything is becoming smaller and more efficient is a process that has been going on for quite some time. With technical progress, the space that technology takes up in the product is becoming smaller and smaller. This means that the product can also be miniaturised in its design.
I would not speak of a new age in the "design" of LED luminaires, but of a new age in the way we deal with light in space. Our latest product lines enable an unprecedented, precise use of light. This means a very specific control of the room effect, mood, and atmosphere. In this area, we are registering a major step forward in development. The miniaturisation of the products means that the lighting effect and the associated perception of the room for people comes to the fore, while the presence of the luminaire diminishes.
What challenges do you face in the design process when the components used change due to the miniaturisation of technology?
The changing components are a major challenge, regardless of the design language. In the lighting sector and, more fundamentally, in the electronics sector, product mutations and the length of availability are challenging. As long as the components become smaller, more efficient and more powerful, this is not a problem for the existing housings. As a matter of principle, I try to make the housings compatible with various electronic components as early as the design process, in order to be able to bridge availability bottlenecks from suppliers, or to be able to cover project-specific product options such as "Tuneable White" or other individual requirements.
The electronics industry is developing rapidly and is experiencing a noticeable increase in efficiency. Computer simulation can be used to determine light control much more precisely, so that no scattering loss occurs, and valuable light is "wasted". Working with light models becomes challenging, since with advancing miniaturization, prototypes can no longer be produced on these small scales. After the three-dimensional construction of a computer simulation I cooperate with specialized producers for the individual parts.
To what extent are the areas of application for luminaires changing?
The miniaturisation of luminaires makes the overall appearance of the room quieter. The luminaires take up less space, are optically more discreet and focus on the effect of the light. Light becomes less tangible for people, so to speak, but can be experienced even more.
For your work, you need creative design flair as well as an interest in constantly expanding your technical know-how. Where do you see a challenge in the future?
The speed of technical development is challenging. As an innovative lighting manufacturer, we are basically used to fast working processes. At the same time, however, innovation requires a lot of time and resources. To bring this into harmony is the most challenging thing for me as a designer. I am curious to see where the constant increase in efficiency in all areas will take us and what social changes this will bring along.
Let us take a closer look at design. What distinguishes RIBAG luminaires?
Our products are very well thought-out. We always aim to achieve a product result that is equivalent in technical, formal aesthetic or economic terms. We do not follow any fashion trends but look for a physical expression for timeless quality products with an innovative, sensual character. We try to bring the appearance of a product to the point, after all it should correspond to the high quality, precise lighting technology. Due to the longevity of our products, they should meet the aesthetic perception of the owner as well as his application requirements as long as possible. With timeless aesthetic optics and optimal light for all required visual tasks, any architecture can be perfected in its design.
What do you mean by "bringing the appearance of the product to the point"?
With every design I give a lot of thought to the technical concept. The fascination lies in creating a holistic appearance with character. Every component has a purpose in form and function, whether it is in the production, materialisation, shaping or in the precisely fitting interaction of the various components. Depending on the combination of materials, different component connections must be chosen until the optimum interaction is achieved and the design maintains its perfection over time.
How do you decide which components are used to create a new luminaire?
The lighting technology and the spatial effect are the key elements of our products. They are at the beginning of every design process. For new techniques and effects, we look for a new design appearance, in other words, the most aesthetic form that can exist. I think very carefully about how the form of each individual element should be designed. For this purpose, I test various variants and the respective interaction of the components and their properties. Different systems are validated in the development and design of new innovative products. The function of the luminaire and how individual elements relate to the product is decisive for the design of the design language. Then I also consider how the individual luminaire appears as an element of an entire family. So, the design of a luminaire has an influence on a whole subsequent product collection.
So, you reduce the design of new luminaires to its essential and necessary components?
Yes, formal reduction is a fundamental approach to design. The product should have a character that immediately appeals to people. The beautiful, convincing forms are concretised by reducing them to the essential. There is not a single component in our luminaires that does not have its own function. During the design process the character and thus the optical appearance of a luminaire develops. The product is reduced more and more, becoming simpler, more coherent, well thought-out, and precise. I "boil" it down to its essence, so to speak. We want to develop understandable clear forms that fit in with a clear and well-structured architecture. The form should also indicate the purpose of the luminaire, the guidance in the room, the orientation whether these are meeting or resting areas, and enable the product to be understood.
Does timeless design even exist?
Everything has its time. However, we try to generate timeless design that gives the owner pleasure for a long time. We let ourselves be inspired by trends, but do not follow them. We create classics with a long product life, which pick up certain sensual components in the materialization. For example, through a special paint, a special lens shape or the way the light is reflected on the surface of the luminaire.
What role does design play regarding the energy efficiency of RIBAG luminaires?
When it comes to environmental protection, on the one hand there is the resource efficiency of the company, on the other hand there is the efficiency of the lights themselves. The efficient use of resources plays a major role in design. In addition to new design possibilities, miniaturisation opens potential for a better ecological balance of the product - less material, fewer resources, less weight, less storage space, less packaging. Nevertheless, energy efficiency, service life and the quality of light are constantly increasing. The optimization of the value chain is being driven forward. As a designer, I deliberately choose materials that also harmonise perfectly in interaction and support energy efficiency. For example, as technology advances, LEDs are no longer as hot, and the heat sink can be made smaller. At the same time, the energy efficiency of the LEDs is increasing all the time - more light is produced with less electricity.
Our products are sustainable and are among the highest quality lighting products in the industry, with an extremely long service life. In addition to the positive energy balance, environmental protection is supported by the fact that we do not produce any disposable products. Our 5-year product guarantee illustrates this attitude. Through additional services we support the reuse of functional parts. If a luminaire no longer functions, we take it back, repair it or dismantle it for recycling. We have various spare parts for lamps in stock that have not been on sale for a long time. We also try to keep the transport distances of our suppliers as short as possible.
What distinguishes the two new collections SPARK and MILUM apart from miniaturisation and what sets them apart from competing products?
About both new families, miniaturized and high-precision lighting technology is a fundamental distinguishing feature. In addition, RIBAG has mastered congruent product design within a luminaire collection. The high-quality materialisation in different variations and the individuality of the products are unique. The consistent, very high quality, the attention to detail in the design and the customer-friendly and resource-saving installation are also decisive features. Both new collections also surprise with a wallwasher reflector, which opens additional application areas.
With MILUM we have succeeded in creating the slimmest version to date; there is no smaller, equally efficient lighting tool on the market. The opening through which the light passes, is reflected, and directed is minimal, with maximum lighting effect. Every single beam of light is directed, without scattering loss. The free combination of diffuse light with accent light allows a wide variety of lighting moods with one and the same luminaire. Thus, rooms with the most diverse areas of application can be individualised, for example a kitchen: In the area of the sideboard, accent light can be used, which brings out the colours particularly well, while right next door diffuse light takes over the basic lighting of the kitchen.
SPARK impresses with its minimum mounting height and maximum, high-precision light emission. Thanks to miniaturisation, only small holes in the ceiling are required for mounting. The compact heat sink and the various mounting options allow an extremely versatile use of the product in existing buildings as well as new construction projects. The additional individualisation options provided by the various cover frames in different materials give architects and building owners the greatest possible flexibility in design and planning.
Pascal Amacker, Creative Director
Pascal Amacker has been Creative Director at RIBAG for six years and he devises new solutions that combine high-quality technology, user-friendly application and timeless design with natural simplicity. The lighting professional spends the majority of his creative working day in the design studio. This is where convincing products originate from a plethora of ideas.