The future is now!

Visual: Speirs + Major

The future is now!

The Future of Urban Lighting – shift happens!

By Joachim Ritter

“Why should I care about what life will be like in 2053?” some may ask. “I don’t even know what to expect after the next elections”. Which is correct. What is going on right now in our society is often reason enough to wonder whether we should not be concentrating on current issues and how to overcome them before we start thinking about the year 2053. Political tension and negative developments, natural disasters, the global market, and social and religious conflicts do not make it easy for us to look towards the future with hope and optimism. The fact of the matter is that society today is faced with a number of severe challenges.

And yet with all the news and information we are inundated with daily, we should not forget that we are a part of the system, perhaps even the problem itself, and through our actions or failure to act we can be involved on a daily basis in the decision-making that will determine our future, including what our towns and cities will look like. 2053 will not simply happen overnight. The foundations for a better world can be laid today, if we make the right decisions, and define and pursue the strategy we have opted to adopt. If we know what the future could look like, we should not simply wait around for something to happen – we need to change the present now.

For sure, our world is about to undergo immense change, perhaps even a revolution – something of the scale of the industrial revolution. Digitisation is going to change and affect everything in our society that we take for normal today. New job opportunities will arise, old jobs will disappear, and cultures will mix and mingle and grow closer together on a daily basis. Our cities will be faced with opportunities and risks at the same time. It is up to us to create the environment we want to live in. And we have to start now!

That light will play a central role in all this is a known fact. That said, many people have no idea how we can make the necessary transition from our present status quo to the visionary images we have of 2053. However, we need to make sure we all know what these images might look like. What we need now are creative minds who can come up with ideas and visions of how urban life will develop – indeed, what life might look like in 2053.

We can’t afford to lose any more time. It is the designers, architects and planners practising today that bear the responsibility for the future, and not the future generations. This responsibility begins at research level, continues into the field of education, and then spreads through the practising community.

PLDC 2017 is taking place in Paris. As the first city at the beginning of the 19th century to be referred to as the “City of Light”. Nowadays every ctiy can name itselfe as a city of light. But this titel can be taken as a negative attribute in these days. Paris can now again rightfully take on a leading role: as the “City of Light 4.2”. It is the time now to make the right decisions.

Specialised lighting designers and experts can help to fullfill this task. With their designs and visions, practising designers will show at PLDC that they are willing to share their interesting approaches. The ball is now in the court of the politicians and stakeholders who shape the society we live in.

In our exhibition “The Futur of Urban Lighting” as part of PLDC we approache the topic from two angles. On the one hand, we will be presenting the visions of eight leading lighting design practices, some of whom have been working in the field for decades, and others who are heading for new shores and can already be celebrated as thought leaders. The second part of the exhibition will be showing the ten best submissions for the international design ideas competition which was open to everyone and focussed on light as a key factor of urban development. What we were looking for were human-oriented lighting design ideas in the future urban context, taking the City of Paris as an example.

The exhibition will be shown in the showrooms of Erco, Fagerhult and Zumtobel as part of the PLD week. in the city of Paris and will be open from the 20. October to the 4. November.