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The ARC Show 2011 - Back to Business

15 January 2011 11.00 BST

(UK) - The move back to Islington’s Business Design Centre proved a welcome return for many visitors and exhibitors at The ARC Show 2011


As part of a growing international programme of urban nighttime walks, lighting designer Leni Schwendinger brought her new NightSeeing™ concept to the streets of London – proving itself a popular companion to the IALD’s Enlighten Europe conference.

Debuted in Washington, D.C., NightSeeing™ aims to raise awareness of light - and shadow - in nighttime environments, as well as to provide an overview of lighting theory to the general public and design professionals alike.

The London outing took place after the first day of the show. Protected from the sporadic London drizzle by LED illuminated umbrellas (provided by event sponsors Alliance Lighting), Schwendinger led an international crowd from the Business Design Centre to explore the borough of Islington, using sights and scenes discovered along the route as a starting point for anecdotal, technical and sometimes philosophical discourse.

Among the significant features, Schwendinger focused on the distinctions between two of the district’s retail sites: the N1 Centre, with the glare of stark white-metal surfaces and shopfronts, and Camden Passage, with its hand-painted signs and window displays, reflecting high-pressure sodium light to create the illusion of gleaming gold leaf.
Along the route, Schwendinger encouraged participants to really look at the everyday world: “Identifying – in our own way – what we see, so that when we get to work we have a store that we can draw on,” she told attendees. “As you become more incisive in your observations you’ll begin to find applications for what you see.”

Whilst many passers-by may have been bemused by the American-led crowd of international characters as they took in the streetlight shadows and reflections, for Schwendinger this was a return to old ground. “I lived in London, Hackney, for a number of years in the 1970s. Bicycling to Camden Passage, Chapel Market, the Angel and riding the 73 bus and the Northern Line are reference points in my memory of London,” she says. “I attended London Film School in Covent Garden, and learned to be very observant of a fully sensorial London with its familiarly welcoming sounds, sights and smells. What a privilege and pleasure, then, so many years later, to be in the Angel as an interpreter of the after-dark streets.”

Schwendinger plans to return to the UK with a canal walk as part of next year’s London Architectural Festival.


Once again, The ARC Show hosted the finals of the SLL Young Lighter of the Year with this year’s top prize going to Christopher Knowlton from Design International. Knowlton impressed the judges – who watched presentations alongside a sizable crowd of industry folk - with his research on user-controlled environments.

“I am really pleased to have been given the chance to showcase my research to so many leading people from the lighting industry.
Technology is being woven into the very fabric of the spaces in which we live, work and play and is opening new possibilities for the way in which we communicate with the world and environment around us,” said Knowlton. “Using this as my starting point, I set up an office space where a temporary lighting installation offered users the ability to control their lit environment through the use of their iPhone.”

It was clear from the early stages of his research that there was a diverse range of acceptance levels and user preferences. He set out to look at what effect this would have on the overall composition of the lit environment, whether there would be substantial energy savings and whether users favoured interactive control over a fully automatic system.

“The user controlled lighting system provided a substantial energy saving of well over 60% compared to a fully automated model of control. However the most important conclusion was that participants were more comfortable and user engagement was considerably higher,” said Christopher Knowlton. “I’m thrilled to have won the award of Young Lighter of the Year and to have the opportunity to share my work with the lighting community.”

“I was impressed with the depth of research carried out by the finalists and their confidence of presenting their findings to a large audience,” said Kevin Theobald, one of the SLL judges at the event. “A broad range of topics were covered by the finalists including pure innovation, technical studies and in depth practical research.”


Many visitors passing the Enlightening Zone on the upper gallery level at the Business Design Centre were drawn by an electronic crackle into a special preview of the Kinetica Art Fair. Here they found three installations by leading international kinetic artists. The throbbing electronic audio was part of Alex Posada’s Particle – a globe of light created by spinning LEDs.

In one corner or the room, a mirror lined booth contained the undulating glow of Jun Ga Young’s Whistling Sea, while in another a web of white light stretch between the space to form Carlo Bernardini’s Light works. 

Kinetica Art Fair is the UK’s only art fair dedicated to kinetic, robotic, new media, electronic, sound, light and time-based art. The even itself took place in London Ambika P3 space from 3 - 6 February - displaying art under the theme ‘evolution of body, brain, mind and consciousness’.


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