September 23, 2022
A Review of LightSPEC West, the New SoCal Lighting Event
Los Angeles lighting event leaves attendees and exhibitors satisfied
The inaugural LightSPEC West trade show and conference took place on Wednesday and Thursday September 21 & 22, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. Lighting people, mostly from the Pacific and Mountain time zones converged upon The Reef in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) to experience two days of seminars, exhibits and networking events.
Although it was the first-ever LightSPEC West event, show organizers had some major advantages in attracting partners, exhibitors and attendees as a prior event, Light Show West, had been a popular bi-annual event that usually occurred months after East Coast LightFair in odd-numbered years.
Organizers of Light Show West, Exponation, faced financial difficulties during the pandemic and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection – which led to Endeavor Business Media’s purchase of Exponation’s assets – which included databases of exhibitors and attendees of past events. Endeavor owns LightSPEC West as well as numerous publications in the buildings and technology space including LEDs Magazine and Architectural SSL.
Endeavor staff told us that 2,200 people had pre-registered for the event, but we haven’t yet received a final headcount tally of actual attendees. We would estimate that the final number is under 1,800 – possibly well-under 1,800.
Venue: Magic Box at The Reef
The second-floor event space located in Los Angeles’ Fashion and Arts District was described as “charming” and “artsy” by some and as “worn out” and “mediocre” by others. A couple of the breakout classrooms were a bit on the small side, but attendee capacity didn’t seem to be an issue. Exhibit hall ceilings were low for an event space, but their off-white color may have allowed for indirect lighting booth displays that couldn’t have been easily replicated in a hotel ballroom with 25-foot ceilings.
The local IES section held the IES Los Angeles Product Fair at the Magic Box just seven months earlier in late February which caused multiple attendees to tell us that it felt like a similar show attended by many of the same people and exhibitors.
Well-known lighting industry veteran, Clifton Stanley Lemon, led the program planning that churned out a unique and eclectic lineup of speakers and topics. LEDs Magazine Editorial Director, Wanda Lau, who was formerly the editor of ARCHITECT Magazine reached into her Rolodex to invite the esteemed Larry Scarpa, FAIA, to be one of the keynote presenters on the topic of sustainability and design.
The event seemed to attract a large base of attendees from Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Regionally, it pulled lighting people from San Diego, Central Coast and the Inland Empire, too. We saw lighting professionals from Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Francisco, Denver and Seattle who made the trek to LightSPEC West and seemed to enjoy the event.
For a show that has all-caps “SPEC” in its name, there was a notable presence of electrical distributors who traveled from near and far to attend. We chatted with folks from Walter’s Wholesale Electric, WESCO and Graybar who seemed generally pleased with LightSPEC West.
Specifiers from notable large and small firms showed up and seemed to be the attendee type that filled most of the seats in the educational programs. The event program had intentional gaps to allow for CEU-seekers to also walk the exhibit show floor.
Several local lighting agents supported the event which helped pull in 176 exhibitors and numerous attendees. Performance Lighting Systems, PLP SoCal and Forman & Associates occupied the high-traffic middle aisles which brought their large anchor brands, Acuity Brands, Current and Signify to the event as exhibitors. Other agent sponsors included LIGHT, Western Lighting & Energy Controls and Light Build Design.
Conspicuous by its absence was lighting agent SCI Lighting Solutions, which reportedly prefers to host its own high-quality lighting events as it did in June to celebrate its 30-year milestone. SCI’s absence caused leading brands like Cooper Lighting Solutions and Focal Point to sit out LightSPEC West.
Most people with whom we spoke seemed to range between satisfied and pleased with the first-ever LightSPEC West event. We didn’t receive any strong negative feedback, but there were some areas of improvement relating to low-traffic fringe aisles and other minor concerns about the “unappealing” city neighborhood, coffee availability and smaller-than-usual freight elevator size that stymied some exhibitors’ plans.
In the end, this was the Endeavor team’s first swing at a regional lighting trade show and conference, so with that context, it can be viewed as a very positive building block for the next iteration. Endeavor is planning to host a 2023 LightSPEC West event and expects to announce 2023 dates soon.