SPARC International Lighting Event is a biennial affair that invites companies from around the world to showcase their latest in lighting technology. SPARC 2013; the Southern Hemisphere’s leading exhibition for lighting professionals and industry stakeholders alike, was held in Sydney from June 4-6. The exhibition displays the latest innovations, both in products and technology, achieved in interior, exterior, retail and commercial lighting, along with lighting controls.
SPARC International Lighting Event Chairman, Russell Loane, explains that SPARC was an idea that arose through observation of a similar exhibition, held during the early 2000’s at the Design Center in Islington, London. The appeal to Russell Loane was that the event displayed an “egalitarian approach” since there was no dollar competition amongst exhibitors, and thus all had the same sized pods. This event in the U.K was happening in conjunction with the release of a series of papers written by lighting practitioners and experts in the field, which provided valuable industry insight. The event resonated extremely well with the design community within the U.K. Unlike other major exhibitions, it was pitched at a price level and scheduled at a time that provided students in their final years of study, or young practitioners, the ability to interface with experienced industry members, and Russell Loane believes “that’s really what SPARC International Lighting Event is about.”
The ownership of SPARC International Lighting Event is a joint venture between Lighting Council Australia and the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand. Russell Loane finds that “lighting is both art and science.” The art portion deals with many aspects that are a part of Vivid, such as the facade lighting displays throughout the city, which include the immersive light installations and projections at the Sydney Opera House. The science portion involves realizing a product that will deliver that art effect, among many other crucial aspects.
Russell Loane finds that SPARC “endeavors to have only the state of the art lighting technologies on display.” One of the “prerequisites” for an exhibitor is that the item they wish to put on display, whether it be a product or service offered, cannot be older than 18 months. This ensures that visitors are only subject to the “latest and greatest” of lighting technologies and services.
SPARC is scheduled in the off-year of Light+Building, a premier lighting event held on a biennial basis in Frankfurt, Germany. “Timing was not an accident, we’re not looking to go head to head, we’re providing industry players with the opportunity to test and release new technologies in this part of the world”, says Russell Loane. SPARC 2013 hosted nine speakers, including four well known international speakers. For instance; John Johnson, who is responsible for the re-lighting of the Tate Gallery in the U.K, along with Emmanuel Clair, a French practitioner who heads a vibrant practice with its headquarters in Singapore. These individuals were supplemented by five national speakers, ranging from university academics to leading practitioners in the design capacity.
With the age of digitalization, lighting technologies are becoming very dynamic. The industry has shifted from a focus that was built around lamps and light fixtures, and transitioned in to the age of complex systems. Consumers will no longer have a recurrent expenditure associated with the replacement of defunct lamps, industry members are now looking at developing technologies with a life span of at least ten years. Russell Loane highlights an entirely new dynamic in commerce and design, along with navigating the future of Australia’s lighting industry.
Russell Loane chairs Lighting Council Australia, and finds that his journey to SPARC International Lighting Event began when he was dealt the task of convincing his colleagues to come on board with the idea. Russell Loane attributes the success of SPARC to the fact that the two main industry bodies in Australia, Lighting Council and Illuminating Engineering Society, were able to harness their resources and assemble a dedicated organizing team that “have more then delivered on our expectations for SPARC International Lighting Event.” This is evident in the results of SPARC International Lighting Event’s first affair in 2011, where the actual attendance was more than double the predicted forecast.
Russell Loane has been a practitioner in the lighting industry for over 30 years, as a designer but also as a manufacturer for a number of companies involved in architectural, commercial and industrial lighting in the country. He finds that “one of the most common concerns consumers are plagued with is their uncertainty when determining whether a product they are buying is of quality. We live in an age of heightened counterfeiting, we’re seeing a lot of asymmetrical selling, particularly with LEDs, since the vast majority of the population have not yet been exposed to this new technology and thus do not know much about it. The underlying message that we would like to convey is that if you stick with the known brands, including the member companies of Lighting Council or other like associations, you will avoid many of these pitfalls…and there are a great deal of pitfalls with the unknown brands.”