In the spotlight: in-store illumination

In the spotlight: in-store illumination brings a dramatic touch to retail

One of the focal themes at the upcoming edition of EuroShop will be lighting, as this is one of the key areas for investment in shopfitting today. For the first time at the retail industry’s biggest event, lighting will be allocated a platform of its own in Düsseldorf. There, lighting’s many facets from its role as a promotional instrument and as a tool for heightening emotion in store design to corporate lighting and new benchmarks in efficiency and cost effectiveness will be showcased. In Hall 11 of the Düsseldorf Trade Fair Center, trade visitors will be able to peruse all the latest trends and innovative solutions for illumination in a concentrated format.

For years now, store lighting has been climbing up agendas across all retail segments. Already, every second retail company ranks it above all else as the area of highest investment priority. According to the Lighting unit at Philips GmbH in Hamburg the various retail environments ranging from the purely functional to those in which shopping is presented as an inspiring leisure activity or social gathering of consumers in individual sections of the store are posing new challenges for businesses and lighting designers. Distinctive lighting concepts are called for not only to make the products clearly visible and sufficiently illuminate sales areas but also to create an atmosphere, evoke a mood, influence purchasing decisions and highlight the individual identity of the retail company.

Over the past few years, clear, brilliant illumination, warm colour-enhancing lighting moods and dramatic accents have become the key ingredients in contemporary store lighting design. “Brightness appears to have reached a new high,” commented Ansorg GmbH, based in Mülheim, Germany. The very latest trends, however, indicate a shift towards scenes characterised by more powerful contrasts that call attention to the many subtle light colours. This development is associated with the abundance of new lighting innovations that run the gamut of colour temperatures. “At the moment, more emphasis is being placed on illuminated surfaces that draw the eye to the store interior, making it appear more vibrant and exciting, as well as intentionally concentrating luminance in the ceiling area in order to heighten the interplay of light and shadow and focus attention,” pointed out the Dornbirn-based Austrian company, Zumtobel Lighting GmbH. The opinion at Erco Leuchten GmbH of Lüdenscheidt, Germany is that retailers are very serious about creating an attention-grabbing and distinctive brand presentation (e.g. with flagships or a proprietary chain of stores) especially with professional lighting design, referred to as corporate lighting. Lighting effects, lamp designs and types as well as wattages each play their part in the overall corporate lighting design.

Regardless of where a retailer’s interests may lie – on injecting visual emotion into a scene, spotlighting a product as the star of the show or developing brand-specific worlds of experience – at EuroShop 2008, a host of innovations will be unveiled, spanning highly efficient, energy-saving mini lights to electronic lighting control systems, which lend themselves to stage-managing customised lighting designs. Take lamps for instance: Emotionally charged lighting concepts call for the use of diverse shapes and sizes in luminaires. In this regard, EuroShop promises to reveal a continuation of the trend favouring small, almost indiscernible lamps with a powerful illuminating effect. But making a statement with light fittings is also en vogue, especially when they take on a decorative function such as innovative pendant light fixtures with an adaptable exterior design. New series of matching spots, pendants and wall lights create visual harmony and continuity throughout interiors. Previously, projectors and the accompanying lighting technologies were seen exclusively in theatres but now retail architects have also added them to their palettes. Since trends in shop design in turn impact luminaire design, manufacturers are increasingly turning to transparent materials, iridescent colours and chrome surfaces. What’s more, environmental awareness is swaying decisions in the choice of materials and production methods.
When it comes to the light source itself, exhibitors see metal halides as continuing their run of success – they offer optimal luminous efficacy, are constantly advancing in terms of rendering colour, lifespan as well as colour stability and are making the production of compact, high-performance recessed ceiling lights and spots possible.

One thing sure to create a buzz among visitors to the trade fair will be the further developments in LED technology. Progress in this field has been attracting retailers’ interest for quite some time already in view of the tremendous potential for the future attributed to this light source. The long life, low power consumption, minimal amount of heat released and absence of UV rays make these a very attractive solution for sales areas dedicated to heat-sensitive products such as fragrances, cosmetics and food. Today already, high-performance LEDs with significant improvements to light colour are making their initial appearance in lighting concepts. Many companies, including Swiss grocer Migros, are at present experimenting with this technology. It is however still perceived as being in its infancy because LEDs’ too limited colour brilliance and rather weak luminous efficacy mean that they are not yet suited to replacing conventional light technologies in general applications. For this reason, users are pinning high expectations on manufacturers for technical progress. The general consensus is, however, that the brilliant colour saturation of coloured LEDs make them perfect for use in RGB colour-changing lights and consequently for creating atmospheric effects. With luminaires that correspond to the performance of a 100-watt bulb already available, Zumtobel sees nothing to stop LEDs brightening display windows.

Cost effectiveness remains one of the pivotal issues in store lighting. “Every watt of power saved counts double in stores because it also translates into a drop in heat input and consequently in air-conditioning costs, too,” explained Erco, emphasising the importance of energy-saving lighting concepts in retail. The combination of high-performance, long-lasting lamps and reflectors, electronic operation devices and lighting management systems ensure not only optimal illumination but also cuts back on the number of light sources required. The result is a reduction in the frequency of replacements and in the associated operating costs.

What’s more, professionals visiting the lighting technology section will be greeted with another new development at EuroShop 2008 – for the first time, exhibitors in this segment will have a hall to themselves. From the manufacturers’ perspective, Messe Düsseldorf’s decision is the natural and appropriate way of doing justice to the latest trends and advances in store lighting as well as to the priority lighting is given in retailers’ investment decisions. Exhibitors want to harness the status of the world’s No. 1 trade fair for retail investment as the top industry event and platform for innovative store lighting solutions to showcase their businesses in an immediate and tangible fashion.