October 3, 2022   

IALD Conference Delights Attendees

In what many describe as the “first back to normal” lighting event, Enlighten Americas delivered


PALM SPRINGS, CA – The International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) emerged from the pandemic with a well-attended and well-reviewed Enlighten Americas 2022 – the IALD’s first in-person Enlighten conference since 2019. The event took place Thursday, September 29 to Saturday, October 1 in Palm Springs, California.

Enlighten Americas events typically attract architectural lighting designers from across North America – many of whom represent design firms that are widely considered to be among the most successful or influential in the industry. IALD’s global influence was on display as professionals from South America, Europe, Asia and Australia traveled to Palm Springs to partake in the three-day conference. Event organizers informed us that the event drew approximately 430 attendees – a total that exceeded its last in-person conference, Enlighten Americas 2019 which took place in the high desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The first industry event that truly seemed “Back to Normal”

During the last 12-18 months, many in-person lighting industry trade shows and conferences have returned from the COVID-era cancellations and virtual events. For many in attendance, this was the first event – national, regional or local – that seemed to return to its pre-pandemic level of attendees and community engagement.

One common theme of Enlighten Americas was the sense of community and collegiality that the lighting designers demonstrate for one another. Architectural lighting designers are part of a very niche community and getting hundreds of lighting people together in Palm Springs seemed to create a strong and contagious professional energy that really invigorated the community.

Addressing the members, IALD President, Monica Luz Lobo, touched on how the organization continues to transition from a pre-pandemic staff of 20+ people with a physical office to six staff all working virtually. Despite the leaner team, the organization maintains a full plate of initiatives including an increased role in LightFair 2023.

IALD nudged lighting design members for increased LightFair participation:

Lobo explained to members, “IALD directly receives one-third the profits from the show. LightFair success directly impacts IALD and we would love for as many people as possible to attend the show.” In 2023, IALD will take over The Designery at LightFair to create a new type of forum. Lobo described it as “a place our members can meet, talk and engage with a range of activities – giving our community a space to come together and open a space for other interest groups to join us.”

Also for new for LightFair 2023, IALD will be offering design studios to collaborate with IALD’s manufacturing partners to create a series of installations at the show.

Community Platform

Next year, the IALD will be launching a new community platform website. As part of the association restructuring taking place, the IALD will update the current member database with a new platform. The new integrated database and website is expected to give space to local regions and chapters to coordinate events, share information and nurture their digital community.

IALD LEARN: The Lighting Education Resource Network

Developed in conjunction with the IALD’s LIRC, LEARN will be a program that connects designers with high quality education content. Peer-reviewed CEU content will be produced by manufacturer partners through the IALD LEARN platform. There is ongoing debate in lighting design circles about LEARN CEUs becoming a prerequisite for members to maintain membership status on an annual basis.

Conference Program

The IALD selected approximately 20 presentations from 78 submissions to be part of the program. The presentations touched on a myriad of lighting and lighting related topics, including multiple presentations that highlighted sustainability-related issues, each with unique approaches to the topic. Keynote speaker, Janet Echelman, delighted the crowd with stories of how her artistry encompasses light and is positively impacting humans across the world.

Many other topics inspired dialogue that could not be replicated in a Zoom webinar. The lighting controls forum put some controls manufacturers in a hotseat while being interviewed by designers. The GUV program examined many things including the balance of dosage & liability – with no consensus best practices seemingly on the horizon. And the recently formed Business of Light is off to a fast start by selling out all seats in its inaugural in-person training seminar.

Acuity Brands  IALD Drone show.gifLight-Chella

While sitting out LightFair the last two years, Acuity Brands has been criticized by some for not adequately supporting LightFair-dependent industry organizations, including IALD. But the company is living up to its pledge to support the industry in other ways. Friday night’s Coachella-themed party, Light-Chella, was a spectacular event that seemed to delight the IALD members and others in attendance. Taking place on the well-manicured grounds of the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, the event provided food, music, interactive games, LED flower crowns, a gourmet ice cream truck, DJ, dancing, LED rave batons and an over-the-top LED drone show. Some guests speculated that the event may have cost in the range of $150,000 – $200,000.

Looking ahead

While the IALD Enlighten Americas Conference is among the smaller conferences in the industry, the high caliber attendees from a diverse cross-section of lighting design practices and geographic areas brings together the community in an intimate setting that promotes learning, collaboration and collegiality. The next Enlighten Americas conference is scheduled for November 2-4, 2023 in Banff, Alberta, Canada.