LED isn’t always the answer, says leading retail lighting designer

Gary Campbell, a partner at lighting design agency DPA, outlined the key issues to consider before undertaking an upgrade to LED at yesterday’s Retail Lighting and Energy Conference.

‘In retail the first layer of lighting is the ambient light,’ he said, noting a move towards lower ambient lighting levels given concerns around energy consumption.

‘Brighter isn’t always better,’ he told 200 retail lighting professionals at the event, describing how it was possible to focus on specific products with high-quality light, and to use accent lighting to bring out a finish, a fabric or a feature. ‘A layering of lighting is what we aim for, with localised pockets of light used to highlight features.’

Campbell said it was important to build in flexibility to any project and to be able to adjust the lighting according to changing displays. The idea is to create a journey in-store and to maximise dwell time, noting the importance of effective and sensitive lighting in fitting rooms, where light affects the look of skin tone as well as products. ‘The fitting room environment is very important,’ he said. ‘It’s where the deal is done.’

‘I don’t necessarily think that LED is the answer to every lighting issue,’ Campbell added, describing the need to consider each retail outlet and brand on a case-by-case basis. DPA tends not to use halogen any more, but uses metal halide, LED and fluorescent solutions wherever appropriate.

Campbell said LED products are improving every month – but he’s still not a big fan of retrofit MR16 lamps to replace halogen. He stressed the need to test products, adding, ‘I feel there’s still a bit of compromise [with LED]. We will have to see whether LED completely dominates the market.’

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