18. Dec 2014

1600 attendees

Text: Joachim Ritter

Towards the end of the autumn this year the lighting world was spoilt for choice when it came to deciding which of the numerous lighting conferences and events to sign up for. Seldom have so many lighting designers and planners gathered on an international scale to talk about trends, the profession, and new potential in the field of lighting design. The community is increasing, both in numbers and in self-confidence. But who would have imagined that the largest of all conferences on the future of light and lighting would be the one that took place in Teheran, Iran?

The 1600 attendees registered for the second Iran Lighting Design Conference numbered 500 more than those who attended the conference in Shiraz a year ago. That is an international record! And it does not include those who only registered to visit the accompanying exhibition. The interest in the development of modern lighting concepts and solutions in Iran is part of the general positive attitude of the young, present-day society, where design plays a key role in the movement towards becoming a modern state. Iran is a large country with an even greater cultural and historic heritage. The fast-changing communications world we live in opens up whole new insights into life beyond one’s own borders. Wireless networks are difficult to undermine – or ban – which probably explains why the proportion of Facebook and LinkedIn users from Iran is remarkably high. Also in the lighting field.

The attendees at the ILDC conference in Teheran were thirsty for knowledge and very open to learn more about the application of state-of-the-art lighting technologies for the design of lighting projects in modern-day Iran with all its cultural awareness. That does not mean to say that modern Iranian architecture and lighting design is not built on a sound basis. On the contrary. The society in Iran is extremely well prepared and has already undertaken measures to develop in the field of lighting – much more so than in many western nations.

Roger Narboni headed a workshop with Architecture students which involved developing a basis for a lighting master plan for the historic centre of Teheran. Budgets for realising an urban lighting strategy have been defined: the process has been initiated. A work group comprising political decision-makers and key market players are coordinating further steps in a highly professional manner. Mashhad, the second largest city in Iran with deep cultural and religious roots, has already embarked on the implementation of a lighting master plan. The first projects that have been realised clearly show that modern lighting philosophies have not passed Iran by. With all due respect, I know plenty of industrial nations in Europe or North America, or new industrial nations in Asia, that have neither a lighting master plan in place nor a coordinated approach to come up with one.

As is so often the case, the development of a society often comes down to the initiative and commitment of a few creative minds that are prepared to bear responsibility and set processes in motion. Kaveh Ahmadian is a practising lighting designer from Iran, but also known in international circles. He is the one who has been investing so much effort in establishing contact between the international lighting design community and lighting professionals in Iran over the last few years. In December 2013 he invited a group of international designers to give presentations at the first conference in Iran in the holiday resort Shiraz. This event triggered a wave of interest in the modern approach to lighting design in Iran.

The lighting industry is also moving in a positive direction. The second conference in 2014 was a further milestone for the market as well as for the community as a whole. Besides companies from the domestic market, the recent conference in Tehran also attracted some international protagonists. Along with Delta Light and iGuzzini, Flos also had a generously proportioned exhibition space. Iranian suppliers were also presenting their own developments and new products, which are also very likely to be of interest to international markets. In the meantime, Kaveh Ahmadian has a whole team working with him to develop professional structures and to link up with different market players and institutions. The general set-up has been defined and is looking extremely stable.

Besides lighting projects in the public realm, we will also be seeing a number of shopping centres and administration buildings being realised in the coming years. The final signal for sound economic development to commence is without doubt when an agreement has been met between Iran and the international community with respect to the lifting of economic sanctions. A meeting in this regard took place in Vienna at practically the same time as ILDC was being staged. The final decision has been postponed for another six months, however.

The next conference is due to take place in 2016, alternating with PLDC, with whom a partnership exists. This is why we are expecting a substantial group of designers from Iran to attend the event in Rome. Papers that address conservation issues and light, and digital light, are sure to be of interest to Iranian designers, who by that time will be in a good position to share their experience in the field.

More information about Iran: Perception

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