Is Non-standard the New Standard?
Roll the clock back 10 years with most industries and you will undoubtedly see a very different picture to that of today. When it comes to the lighting industry, and more specifically the luminaire market, this is very much the case.
Whilst it is fair to say the luminaire market has been relatively broad in the many manufacturers and products available, it was also true that there was a limited ability to modify or request ‘non-standard’ versions of their luminaires, certainly when it came to smaller quantities. Luminaire design itself was largely restricted by the physical attributes of the lamps incorporated and relatively rigid manufacturing processes meant anything ‘non-standard’ would likely require a time-consuming and costly intervention within the manufacturing process.
Move forward 10 years and the advent of the LED light source in conjunction with the ever-advancing design and manufacturing methods, like 3D printers and other flexible manufacturing processes, mean manufacturers can be far more flexible. Be it a simple request for alternative finishes, colour temperatures, specific control gear, or something greater, like changing the scale or dimensions of a product, or engineering an entirely new one, all these options are far more accessible to us as designers.
Many manufacturers that we speak to report an ever-increasing demand for ‘non-standard’ luminaires, with these now typically accounting for anywhere between 10-30% of their sales. Often, they have in-house teams who work almost exclusively on these ‘non-standard’ luminaires. Because of this, we need no longer look at manufacturer’s catalogues and websites as a selection of options but more a showcase of their capabilities.
Furthermore, there are numerous manufacturers we work with who manufacture truly bespoke luminaires, and in many instances, these contemporary processes now mean these can come at little extra cost.
As designers, it’s a great time to be a part of the industry. We can develop designs that are far more integrated within the architecture and interiors of each building than ever before, offering up some truly considered and engaging lighting designs. The flexibility of LEDs and new manufacturing techniques means our product catalogue is now a sketchbook and it’s very exciting.