November 15, 2023   

NYControlled Marks Stellar Debut in NYC

With a turnout surpassing that of some national lighting events, the inaugural controls trade show was widely praised


On Tuesday, New York City hosted the first edition of NYControlled, a trade show organized by the New York City Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IESNYC) and the Designers Lighting Forum of New York (DLFNY). NYControlled showcased the latest in lighting controls technology and provided valuable insights through technical lectures from industry experts. It offered a unique opportunity for attendees to engage directly with leading manufacturers and influential figures in the field.

The event was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street in Manhattan. This venue is known among local lighting people for hosting biennial lighting events separately organized by Enterprise Lighting Sales and SDA Lighting & Controls. However, in this instance, NYControlled took over the Pavilion's fourth floor, unlike the agent-organized events, which typically occur on the first floor.


Marking its debut, NYControlled emerged as a consensus success, garnering positive feedback from a broad spectrum of the lighting community, including lighting designers, engineers, integrators, commercial real estate professionals, manufacturers and lighting agents. The initial plans for NYControlled were conceived in Spring 2023, with plans solidifying in August and full-throttle promotional efforts commencing in September. Despite the tight timeline, the organizers executed the event with remarkable efficiency and professionalism.


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Above: Michael Toolis (L) and Bob Bazan (R) both of Chelsea Lighting catch up with Inside Lighting’s Al Uszynski
Attendance and Industry Response

One of the key questions surrounding NYControlled was its potential to attract a significant number of industry professionals. This concern mirrored the doubts one exhibitor had, comparing the event's appeal to that of an auto parts show versus the more mainstream New York Auto Show. However, the industry's response for the first iteration of NYControlled was overwhelmingly positive, with a strong turnout that underscored the event's relevance and importance.

All exhibitors interviewed reported an excellent turnout for the trade show. David Brooks, head of Traxon e:cue in North America, expressed his satisfaction with the attendance, particularly noting the presence of lighting designers, engineers and integrators.


A Good Vibe but Slightly Surreal

In a departure from the norm seen in traditional lighting and controls trade shows, NYControlled presented a unique layout where commercial rivals were positioned in close proximity. This arrangement, featuring two long aisles of 40+ exhibitors, unavoidably placed competitors right next to one other. Despite the potential for tension, the atmosphere remained positive.


The Numbers

Pre-registration figures were impressive, with over 800 individuals signing up before the event, excluding exhibitors. A visit to the registration desk towards the end of the event revealed dozens, possibly well over 100 unclaimed pre-printed badges, suggesting numerous no-shows. However, this was seemingly offset by a significant number of walk-in attendees. While the show organizers excelled in managing the myriad details of the event, capturing complete data on walk-in registrants proved challenging, introducing a margin of error in whatever final attendee count may be communicated.


Education Track

NYControlled offered an educational component with a dedicated breakout room for sessions throughout the day. Attendees had the option to participate in a variety of Continuing Education Unit (CEU) accredited courses, each available for a $20 fee. Additionally, free Tech Talks, though not accredited, provided valuable insights, albeit with a commercial perspective. These educational seminars were well-received, with most of the 40-plus seats filled for each session. The presence of prominent controls manufacturers and the high attendance from influential New York metro area lighting design firms, as reported by lighting agents, underscored the event's importance to the community.


Seeing the Product

The trade show featured a comprehensive array of products from both established and emerging brands in the lighting controls industry. High-profile brands showcased their latest offerings, each receiving positive feedback from attendees. Lutron’s Athena, Crestron’s ZUM and Casambi’s wireless lighting control systems were particular standouts. Additionally, smaller and niche control makers also made a strong impression. Products such as Lumos Controls’ Catron Rechargeable Smart Desk Switch and JDRF Electromag's self-commissioning lighting controls system demonstrated the diversity and innovation present in the industry.


Specifier Reaction

The response from specifiers attending NYControlled was consistently positive. For some, the event provided clarity and insights into their design scope, enhancing their collaboration with engineering teams on various projects. Others took the opportunity for comparison shopping among the different booths, deepening their understanding of available options. Lighting designer Kara Anne O’Grady’s experience highlighted the value of the event, particularly in understanding the integration of products like Acuity Brands’ nLight system and Pathway Connectivity’s DMX capabilities within the larger Acuity Brands controls framework.


Excess & Obsolete: Mediterranean Veggie

In a move reminiscent of LEDucation, NYControlled organizers provided boxed lunches to all attendees, featuring popular choices like Deli Turkey and Deli Ham. The Inside Lighting staff particularly enjoyed the Napa Almond Chicken Salad. However, the Mediterranean Veggie option emerged as the least favored choice, with catering staff ultimately removing dozens of untouched boxes of the zesty sandwich. The event also featured a cash bar and appetizers, starting from 5:30 PM, adding a social element to the professional gathering.


Event’s Bright Future

The success of NYControlled's inaugural event hints at its potential for growth in the coming years. The event's fast start and positive reception suggest it could become a significant annual fixture in the lighting industry calendar.

IES New York Section President, Shoshanna Siegel, shared optimistic future aspirations for NYControlled. She anticipates the event will not only return next year but also attract a wider audience, drawing from up-and-down I-95 from Boston to Washington DC. Siegel commended the efforts of committee members and numerous volunteers who, despite being competitors in the commercial marketplace in many cases, demonstrated remarkable collaboration and teamwork. This collective effort was pivotal in organizing the event on short notice and ultimately in its successful execution.