RED LIGHTS, BLUE PLANETS AND SMART ROADS – PLDC COPENHAGEN 2013

It’s been a hectic run up to Christmas so I thought I would take a breath and use the time to update you on my recent trip to Denmark.

In November, I travelled to Copenhagen to attend the 4th Professional Lighting Design Convention and after a tricky start I had a wonderful few days.

So to the tricky beginning…

Imagine the scene, it’s 10pm, I’m alone, it’s raining and my taxi driver has dropped me in Copenhagen’s red light district, nowhere near my hotel!


Thankfully, with the help of some very nice Copenhageners, I found my accommodation, 30 minutes later. The welcome I received was more in line with my expectations, and the rest of my trip was a breeze.

After a good night sleep and a hot shower I was ready to take in all the conference had to offer with some excellent Lighting Designers, Architects and Engineers speaking and attending the event.

It was an amazing experience and I learned so much over the few days, especially on the technical side of lighting.

I fell in love with the art of Stage Design. The idea of taking a dark room, such as a theatre, and creating with light the emotion of a scene or play. This notion translates so well into the commercial world. One such Stage Lighting designer that has made the move into main stream projects is Jesper Garde Kongshaug.

Jesper spoke of the challenge and experience he enjoyed working on the Blue Planet Aquarium. Just like on a stage, the focus with this project was not the lighting but the fish life. It was a difficult task as the reflective nature of the glass tanks had to be taken into consideration. So much of what they did was trial and error, and Jespers honesty in this respect was great to hear.


He managed to create an experience that is not only atmospheric but compliments the fish on display.


Sustainability is a large part of Danish life and listening to the Bjarke Ingels Group, I realised just how important it is.

BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) is an award winning architectural firm focusing on sustainable projects. The company has worked on a number of high profile projects around the world including the World Village of Women Sports in Malmo, the Rose Rock International Finance Centre in China and the Phoenix Observation Tower in Arizona as well as my favourite Superkilen Urban Park, Copenhagan.


One of their latest clients is none other than German car manufacturer Audi.

Audi approached BIG to work on a sustainable design for their cars. BIG turned down the opportunity as they did not believe Audi to be sustainable but Audi persisted.

Eventually BIG succumbed but instead of focusing on car design. They wanted the car giant to think differently. How could Audi give back? The thought process began with driverless cars, then dug deeper. How could cars generate energy on road surfaces? ‘Smarter Streets’ was born, an energy source harnessed from our streets that could power road lighting and buildings.

Such has been their progress that they are currently testing a road in New York.


It was also great to hear these schemes are being backed by local authorities and Governments, with left of center ideas encouraged just as much as everyday solutions.

The conference was not all about stage designers and sustainability. There was so much covered in the few days, it was hard to take it all in. A good complaint.

Listening to a talk on Chinese lighting design, it was interesting to hear that they are slowly moving away from the big, brash lighting approach to a more subtle European style. There were also advancements in technology, the new Osram LED lamp which works on AC was exciting, perhaps a blog post for another day! As was the push to tear up lighting standards as we know them and start again. The lighting industry is changing so rapidly that our standards are now totally outdated.

To sum it up everything at the conference was geared to doing things cleverly. What stuck with me as I made my way home to Ireland?

Simple ideas have the greatest impact.

Monica Duggan was in Copenhagen representing Willie Duggan Lighting at the 2013 Professional Lighting and Design Convention. To learn more about Willie Duggan Lighting’s range of exciting products visit the online store. To learn more about the Professional Lighting and Design Convention visit their website.
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