PLDC 2015 in Rome Was Well Worth The Trip

Sistine Chapel LED lighting Sistine Chapel28th October 2015 marked the official opening of the Professional Lighting Design Convention (PLDC) in Rome.

We were lucky enough to be invited for a special event before the official opening party. A big thanks goes to Osram for an amazing private tour of the Sistine Chapel. We were allowed to take pictures and video and were shown the two levels of lighting via the motorized units, which move to illuminate the lower half of the chapel. The chapel is about 40 meters (131 feet) long by 13 meters (43 feet) wide and the uniformity of the LED lighting was incredible given the mounting restrictions posed by the Vatican.

The conference program was full of leading edge research, design and application insights in four parallel tracks. Although far too numerous to mention, two which stood out were Neil Harisson, who was born colour blind, and Veronika Mayerböck who uses light as a theraputic tool.
Neil wowed his audience with his explanation of his ‘third eye’ which allows him to hear colour. He had a chip and antennae implanted into his head and is a real life cyborg that also has receptors for ultra-violet and infra-red. This allows him for example to know when its okay to sunbathe or if an alarm is activated in a bank. He chooses clothes depending on his mood or the occasion; so if attending a funeral, he would choose an outfit that sounded sad. You can view his Ted talk here.
Veronika has developed ‘Lightscores’, an interactive multi-sensory device that enables blind, visually impaired and severely disabled children to move around and develop complex motor skills. Many of these children sit in their chairs and are afraid to explore the world around them. Many have no sense of ‘place’ and ‘space’. By using light and sound which changes as they move, the children were stimulated to reach out, try new things, coordinate arms and legs into movements and even interact with each other. The look on one of the mothers’ faces as she saw her child move by herself for the first time was priceless. The animation of the children after exposure to this therapy was amazing. You can find out more here.

There was also a lot of discussion around gaining official recognition of Lighting Design as a profession at EU level by introducing a licensing procedure. This is an ongoing activity, supported by Lighting Europe and other bodies. More news on this topic will follow as it unfolds.

Designed by Consuline and hosted by Reggiani, the exhibition of luminaires through the ages was quite fascinating. From AD 79 oil lamps to 1860’s ‘Electric Candle Holders‘ and modern era table lamps, the evolution of design and technology showed how far we have leapt forwards since entering the electronic age.

During the event, we saw some incredible building interiors around Rome – both ancient & modern. Thanks to Cooledge for sharing this beautiful pictorial review of Rome’s luminous rotundas.

The Gala Dinner and PLD Recognition Awards was held in the Cinecittà film studios in Rome, where parts of the latest Bond movie were filmed. During the closing event it was announced that PLDC 2017 will be held in Paris.

EdisonReport Grades PLDC Rome

Attendees:  A

This show was very well attended with an eclectic and interesting mix of attendees.  I spoke to many researchers, teachers and students who demonstrated that the lighting world is an exciting place to be. The exhibit halls were consistently filled which must have pleased the manufacturers. One source told me, “The show has grown each time and is attractive to researchers and designers that continue to learn of new insights and issues relevant to their work.”

Exhibitors:  A

This year, the exhibit hall was upgraded to a “professional grade” show with robust display booths and not simple table tops as in previous years.  A couple of visitors told me that they felt it was much more commercialized than in the past; although when questioned further, none seemed to mind but a few commented that they wouldn’t want it to get too much bigger. It is always a fine line between having a conference with some supporting exhibitors, and having a tradeshow with a conference program. I think PLDC did a great job in getting the balance right and not being too greedy. This is definitely a lighting conference that people go to, to learn, be inspired, intrigued and network.

Content:  A

The educational seminars and papers were of a very high standard and were relevant, interesting and thought provoking. I was the moderator for the application track on the last day and found that all of the presentations were fascinating. My only problem was that I missed some presentations in the other tracks that were given rave reviews by other attendees.

Show Management: A+

One source said, “The PLDC people have impressed me with their running of the show and their ability to make improvements along the way.  Attendance was very strong and people are networking and making new connections.” Another attendee told me that they never miss PLDC because they learn so much and meet amazing people.
It was certainly a very professionally ran show that was ‘by lighting people, for lighting people’.

The only thing that I didn’t like was the food. The quality was pretty good but it became monotonous. I know we were in Italy but we had pasta at every meal. A bit more variety would have been nice.

Overall I rate it at an A and would highly recommend it.

Written by Julie Allen

15 Dec