We are simply captivated by a space’s luminosity and brightness, which is critical for the success of any home interiors, commercial, public, monuments, or any building. Good lighting makes your space more comfortable and functional, as well as directing us to our destination. Proper lighting is critical to the success of any architectural marvel.
Design Middle East presents the Lighting Powerlist 2022 and honours the leading suppliers, distributors, designers, manufacturers, and experts for providing the perfect harmony and composition of lights, layers, direction, and flow. We have not ranked this list because everyone is doing an outstanding job of brightening our lives and deserves a standing ovation.
Guzzini illuminazione was founded in 1959, and is an international leading group in the architectural lighting industry, with 1,243 employees concentrated on researching, designing, and producing internal and external lighting systems. It is headquartered in Recanati, Italy, and has operations in more than 20 countries across five continents. iGuzzini uses light to improve the relationship between humans and the environment through research, industry, technology, and awareness in cultural, work, retail, cities, infrastructures, hospitality, and living environments. The culture of light as a social innovation aspect is iGuzzini’s distinguishing feature. It has been working with the best architects, lighting designers and engineering firms for over seventy years to create innovative, high-performance lighting projects capable of enhancing architecture and spaces.
For iGuzzini, light allows for the creation of safe, aggregate and comfortable places, and defines a person’s mood, the colours and shapes of nature and works of art. This is why its vision is Social Innovation Through Lighting developed along four guidelines: light culture, design, connectivity and sustainability. In 2021, iGuzzini’s turnover was €203.4 million, selling 82% of its own production abroad and 18% in Italy, proof of its leading position on the domestic market and primary position in Europe and the most dynamic international markets. iGuzzini illuminazione S.p.A. is operational in Italy and abroad with 41 functioning offices on all five continents. The parent company, iGuzzini illuminazione S.p.A. performs staff and management duties, has a capillary presence worldwide and devises internationally renowned projects. Over the years, iGuzzini has expanded and consolidated its production capacity to meet the constantly growing demands from the market, establishing iGuzzini Lighting China Ltd, in 2006 and the subsidiary company, Shanghai iGuzzini Trading China – respectively for production and sales work on the Asia Pacific markets.
In 2018, iGuzzini bought over the company under Canadian law, Sistemalux Inc. with its production plant in Montreal, further strengthening its presence on the North American market and completing its range of products. The production plants in Recanati, Shanghai and Montreal integrate perfectly into a global, logistics network capable of optimising overheads and production capacity usage.
iGuzzini has an interesting history. In a room in 1959, Giovanni Guzzini’s home, in the centre of Recanati, Harvey Creazioni was founded, later to become iGuzzini illuminazione. The name Harvey comes from a film starring James Stewart. At the end of the 1970s, iGuzzini brought lighting to Italy. It promoted a series of institutional campaigns and launched an intense training programme for specialists, acting as pioneer in the expansion of light culture around the world. The shift from the decorative to technical sector was marked by a range of innovative luminaires. In 1980s, the company consolidated its identity with the “Industria Illuminotecnica” payoff. Simultaneously, it launched the “Illuminare gli italiani” (Enlightening the Italians) institutional communication campaign that continued until 1992. In addition to this, iGuzzini further innovated the international business model, by transforming its foreign branches into key hubs capable of generating cultural and professional relationships in the respective countries. Near the end of the 1980s, the company conducted the first tests in the field of bio-dynamic light in collaboration with the Lighting Research Center of Troy in New York, which became international guidelines thirty years later (current day Human Centric Lighting). In 1990, the official presentation of the experimental prototype of SIVRA (Sistema di Illuminazione Variabile a Regolazione Automatica) – Automatically Controlled Variable Lighting System – the first bio-dynamic light luminaire, was held at the Science and Technology Museum in Milan.
In 1994, iGuzzini was the first company to support the fight against light pollution: with its campaign “con iGuzzini contro l’inquinamento luminoso” (Combating lighting pollution with iGuzzini), the topic of energy-saving and protecting a star-studded sky was introduced. In 1998, with the inauguration of the new lighting at the Borghese Gallery in Rome, iGuzzini launched a programme to support and enhance cultural heritage in Italy and around the world. A few years later, the programme would adopt the name of Light is Back. During 2000-2010, iGuzzini launched the “Partners for Better Light” campaign to promote the role of light in an architectural project with the collaboration of professionals. With the opening of the Russian branch in 2003, iGuzzini continued its international expansion. In 2006, it was one of the first companies to adopt LED technology.
In order to build a corporate ecosystem capable of fostering well-being and providing a serene, stimulating work environment, iGuzzini created World Class Manufacturing in 2014. The program’s goal was to have zero faults, breakages, and stockpiles. The first IoT-based intelligent lighting apps were created in 2015 by iGuzzini. In 2018, iGuzzini acquired Sistemalux, a Canadian company.
The results of the three-year research project (2014- 2017) Social Lightscapes Workshops were presented the same year. Some of their most notable honours are the Compasso d’Oro ADI (Nuvola, 1998; Shuttle, 1989); Compasso d’Oro ADI award to the Group’s enterprises (1991); National Innovation Prize – Prize of all Prizes 2018 (Palco LV); Top Employers Italy (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021); and EcoVadis silver medal (2021), among others. Additionally, the company has received recognition for its creative products from iF Design, Red Dot Design, ADI Design Index, German Design Award, Lighting Design Awards, and Lux Awards.
Light & Lives
Light & Lives is a Dubai-based ambience consultant and distributor specialising in lighting, furniture, acoustics, and decorative objects. Since its founding in 2019, the company has completed over 250 design-centric projects in the region, spanning multiple disciplines such as residential, hospitality, and commercial spaces. With over 90 globally renowned brands, including 60+ specialist lighting manufacturers, the product range provides a well-balanced solution between quality, design, functionality, and budget. As a homegrown company established during the COVID-19 era, challenging the norm has always been at the heart of everything they do.
The firm’s primary approach to collection curation is to have a product line that is aligned with every design philosophy. It is one thing to fill a room with beautiful furniture and finishes, but it takes a special skill to create the right atmosphere. The Light & Lives offer strives to bring forth products and services that hit every note with the expert knowledge brought to the table with a diverse portfolio and technical insight. “We always advise our clients to opt for authenticity,” says Light & Lives founder Afsal Mohamed. He further explains: “The current business environment of ‘value engineering’ is restricting design. Prioritising an original thought process doesn’t have to mean it’s expensive – especially when new manufacturers are popping up across the world with unique designs, and competitive price tags. With the right kind of specialist advice, there is always a possibility of not compromising the integrity of the project as a result of opting for sub-standard products. The design has always taken precedence in everything we do at Light & Lives, and as such; the company’s focus this year has been to bring forth products by designers from diverse backgrounds. This, along with strategic partnerships with high-quality architectural lighting manufacturers, helped the company to develop a more holistic portfolio which works as the perfect tool for its lighting design team to tackle any design and budget brief without compromising on aesthetics or performance. Our constant effort is to work with manufacturers that share the same ethos, to provide ‘affordable authenticity’, as we truly believe the magic lies in being able to elevate any design story with the right products and service.”
“Some of our recently completed projects include Izil Spa, a private villa in Dubai Hills, a high-end private office in Downtown Dubai, and Next 50 office in Etihad Towers among others and we’re actively involved in some exciting large-scale F&B and commercial projects. Being able to work across multiple sectors has provided us with a more holistic approach – to be able to address any lighting scenario with the right selections. It’s been a good year in terms of the projects and designers we’ve gotten to work with and we’re quite excited for what lies ahead,” adds Mohamed.
Guided by a passion for design, performance and service excellence, Light & Lives collaborated with brands such as Flos, Marset, Masiero, Lodes etc, covering a wide spectrum of decorative and architectural lighting design philosophies who have been manufacturing products with ingenuity and originality for almost half a century. The Light & Lives portfolio insists on a strict diet of authentic aesthetics, quintessential qualities, high-quality materials, perfect workmanship and exceptional organisation. Every piece of design element, whether it’s a lamp, furniture or decorative object is a product of constant dialogue with designers all over the world. “By working together with brands such as UnoNovesette, Brokis, Olivelab, Slamp, Karman Italia etc we are constantly expanding our collection to ensure we stay much ahead of the curve,” says Afsal.
With the need of the hour being ever-changing, the firm’s offbeat and design-driven approach has a lot to offer the region in terms of quality and aesthetics. Its online presence has been designed with an e-commerce store featuring a mood board tool to aid any designer with putting together selections based on their design story – making it a seamless experience. With a one-of-a-kind physical platform in the works to showcase their design collection, Light & Lives are here to be unapologetically unconventional.
Light Link was founded in 2019 by Jaspal Bal on the values summed up in the acronym LINK – Listen, Integrity, Network, and Knowledge. Jaspal’s vision was to establish a company that goes the extra mile for its customers and become the best lighting design and supply firm in the UAE and wider region, using everything he learned from a 13-year career in the GCC. Light Link strikes the ideal balance between art and engineering, with a strong emphasis on design.
Jaspal leveraged his trusted relationships and extensive market networks to achieve continued rapid growth over the last three years, more than doubling turnover year on year. The team expanded in tandem with its high-profile clientele. Nathan Delaney joined as Operations Director in 2020, followed by Jonathan Brown as Commercial Director in 2021, forming a well-rounded senior management team with expertise in lighting, commercial, project management, and construction. Light Link now employs 19 people across departments. Light Link was named ‘Lighting Company of the Year 2021’ by Design Middle East as it entered its second full year of operation.
The team has completed projects in all sectors and have been involved in some of the region’s largest office fit-outs, including PWC, the multi-award-winning Early Childhood Authority, and the new home of TwoFour54, and Yas Creative Hub. Working on the iconic Museum of the Future with Al Tayer Stocks, Atelier Bruckner, and Belzner Holmes was a definite highlight for the company. The team has also had great success supporting and delivering projects alongside design powerhouses such as Say Studio, Roar, Gensler, 2106, Ochre, and Broadway, and looks to expand these relationships as it continues to be known for increasingly innovative lighting projects across the region. Light Link has developed strong synergies with well-known brands such as Future Designs, iGuzzini, Lamp, Marset, and Vibia as the company has grown. Furthermore, it is in the process of signing a premium partner agreement with acoustic brand Impact Acoustic as part of a strategy to generate new revenue streams. Building on its initial success, Light Link has recently expanded into other regions, delivering projects in Qatar and now Saudi Arabia, where it has already secured two large-scale projects for blue-chip clients. Going forward, the company plans to capitalise on the opportunities in this market by replicating its setup and delivery model from the UAE and establishing a permanent team in the Kingdom. Future growth will also include Light Link’s new experience centre and academy, a dedicated multi-use space with unique ways of showcasing new products and technologies to its clients, as well as a platform for educating customers.
Light Link has always demonstrated a commitment to wellbeing and sustainability, creating a reputation for handling multiple LEED and WELL certified and accredited projects. The team collaborates closely with designers and consultants to ensure that these criteria are met in accordance with the strict guidelines, all while keeping end-user needs in mind. True to its expertise, Light Link’s offices are designed in accordance with WELL and LEED standards. Light Link aimed to be a force for good by supporting a variety of causes in which it believes. It was a key sponsor of Surge for Water’s “Design, Dine, Make a Difference” event in Dubai in 2021.
The goal is to continue working with Surge while also becoming involved in a broader range of charitable initiatives. ISG Jaspal Bal, managing director and founder of Light Link, comments: The immediate future of the lighting industry will be challenging for everyone. Supply chain issues are likely to continue throughout 2022, and unfortunately, we expect some further inflation prompting more price increases. In this context, it is crucial to stick with trusted manufacturers and companies to maintain quality, and who have a solid strategy in place to support their customers. It’s also important to educate and encourage clients to appreciate the long-term value of lighting over short-term cost-cutting.” Jaspal elaborates the lighting trends: “One of the biggest trends for the design industry as a whole will be about people and efficiency. In the area of lighting, this means much more than changing lamps to LEDs. Lighting can be the driving force at the forefront of efficiency, going beyond simply conserving energy with lighting control being a tool to create inspirational and atmospheric environments, not just to reduce energy costs. With expert lighting solutions, we can live smarter, happier and healthier lives, all while having less impact on the planet. Tuneable lighting, which mimics daylight rhythms and simulates nature, is proven to improve employees’ wellbeing, motivation and productivity significantly. Testament to its belief in the value of this technology, Light Link’s own office incorporates adjustable human-centric lighting and embodies the same sustainable, eco-friendly credentials it advises for clients.”
No Grey Area
No Grey Area are quickly becoming known in the design market for their hybrid approach. They specialise in lighting and have developed a onestop- shop approach to meet the needs and desires of architects, designers, and contractors. No Grey Area has become a go-to resource for designers in the area, expanding their portfolio from lighting to stretch ceilings, acoustics, and metal works. “Our initial idea was to adopt a more direct component procurement approach, reducing the number of middlemen and providing better value to our clients,” explains partner Elliot Barron at No Grey Area. “Our goal is to provide designers in the market with all they need to complete their project with ease and optimal quality. We assemble as many of our products in-country and try to deal as directly as possible with the end user. We think our approach is one the market needs.”
So far, he has been proven correct. Barron moved to the UAE in 2009, and was one of the founding partners of No Grey Area, the fledgling Middle Eastern arm of a small UK lighting company, in 2016. Over the last six years, the firm has quickly progressed through the gears, expanding globally to nearly 60 employees, pushing the boundaries of design quality and value, and working on some of the region’s most high-profile projects. “There’s a real buzz around the whole of the Middle East,” Barron says. “In the UAE, but especially for us in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where the markets are growing at an exponential rate.” To cope with this new demand, No Grey Area has opened an office in Egypt and will shortly open a production facility in Saudi Arabia, where they will be able to produce and assemble light fixtures, acoustic products and stretch fabric ceilings. “The next few years are going to be an exciting time,” Barron adds. One of the firm’s strengths is its versatility. Recent projects include the Google office in Dubai, and the covid-delayed Dubai Expo 2020, for which NGA delivered designs for 11 Best of The Best restaurants, and two food courts, including the African Food Court, which had another ten restaurants concepts inside. “The challenges there were that we had an unusually short turnaround, and we were dealing with many different stakeholders,” Barron says.
The hospitality sector is a real driving force for our business and thanks to our loyal supplier base, we were able to complete the project efficiently. The Grand Egyptian Museum, which will open in October, presented a different set of hurdles, namely more than 20,000 metres of LED on the facade. Next on the list is the VOV e-sports venue in Saudi Arabia, as well as the new Saudi branch of the Sushi Samba restaurant, which will feature more than 1,000 units of custom-made decorative light fixtures. “A real passion of mine is that each of our projects is different,” says Barron. “I love custom-made projects, delivering a designer’s vision, taking something on paper and making it a reality. One of our USPs is that we’ll take on the challenge of something unique and tricky to make and deliver it on time.”
No Grey Area’s broad range of work means their staff includes many different specialisms, allowing them to do everything in-house when a competitor might have to seek outside expertise. “We have people with backgrounds in stretch fabrics, people from lighting backgrounds, guys who came from construction, guys with a metalwork background,” Barron says. “We have a turnkey approach, which lets us do things other companies would shy away from.” This approach has led to repeat work with some of the biggest names in design, including The Bluehaus Group and Gensler. “We work with interior designers from the start of the project,” Barron says. “We enjoy the challenges they set for us, and they enjoy the way we deliver.” They work with lighting design firms, such as Studio N, as well as main contractors. “There is no denying that the last few years have been far from the norm,” Barron says. “But as life gets back to normal, construction and design are moving ahead at full speed, bigger and better than ever. Pre-covid, lighting would often fall to the bottom of priorities in the design. That perception is changing. Clients are understanding the value of lighting and developing exceptional bespoke pieces that become the centrepiece of their designs.”
No Grey Area’s focus is to bring these concepts to reality while maintaining the firm’s reputation for superior quality at the right price. “For us, ultimately, it’s about delivery, delivery, delivery,” he says. “We test everything in real-world situations, not just in a lab, so the customer gets the design they had in mind. Our turnover has increased year on year because people are seeing the value in what we do. We’re a family-like business that delivers on our promises. It has been a real pleasure seeing the business and our staff grow over the years. Our ambition is to become a household name: not just locally and in the UK, but internationally. “We are looking to redefine notions of the lighting industry,” he adds. “To raise awareness that lighting is not a product of functionality, but an art form in its own right.
SoMA Lighting is a boutique, multi-faceted brand agency and lighting solutions supplier based in Dubai. The company was formed in 2019, by Rich Semple, drawing inspiration from independent record labels and innovative lighting design studios. As a proud advocate for diversity and equal opportunities, SoMA has a multicultural workforce with a majority female-led management team. SoMA has curated a portfolio of innovative and cutting-edge lighting brands for the region, including British brands Orluna, Buster and Punch, and Tala, as well as Scandinavian brands Zero Lighting, Nuura, Pholc, Northern, and Rakumba. Each brand was carefully selected for its unique offering, and through SoMA’s extensive network of designers and specifiers, can showcase its products throughout the growing Middle East Design industry.
SoMA has become the region’s most trusted turnkey lighting supplier over the last three years. SoMA’s creative flair, meticulous attention to detail, and professional approach to on-site project management are responsible for this. Collaborations with Bishop Design, Mitchell and Eades, Bluehaus, Sagrada, and INC Solutions have resulted in several flagship commercial and F&B projects completed to critical acclaim throughout the UAE. These include a façade lighting scheme for the new Dubai Harbour, a new office for NewBridge Pharmaceuticals in Healthcare City, and two very special custom chandeliers for The Burj Al Arab. SoMA have also become the lighting partner for some of the region’s top hospitality companies. For Bulldozer Group, they recently completed the design and supply of lighting for local Dubai celebrity Chef Izu Ani’s new concept, La Maison Ani, located in Dubai Mall’s fashion avenue.
SoMA is also collaborating with EAT X, the new hospitality group of local restauranteur Tom Arnell, on several exciting new F&B venues across the city, all due to open in 2022; Byron Bathers Club, Encounter Coffee, Splendour Fields, Frankie’s of Florence, Common Grounds, and The Guild.
Speaking on the future of the lighting industry, founder Rich Semple is passionate about sustainability and helping create a circular economy within the lighting industry. He says: “The Lighting Industry currently operates in a linear, single-use, throwaway environment. We all need to move beyond the philosophy of single-use. Lighting products should be sourced and designed to be repairable and renewable. Manufacturers such as Orluna are paving the way by creating sustainable, circular lighting products that come with a 20-year repair and reuse guarantee, meaning no longer will light simply be thrown in landfills when they reach the end of their life. New publications such as TM66 will help bring more structure and rigour to this process and encourage designers to select products not only based on their aesthetics and performance but on their manufacturing process and commitment to creating a more circular economy.”
Following the completion of a few exciting projects in the country, such as Sofitel the Obelisk, St. Regis the Palm, and W hotel Mena Seyahi, all during the difficult COVID period that Dubai and the rest of the world has experienced in the last two years, the team at Murano Lighting is energised to scale up and provide our services to a broader hotel industry clientele in the region.
Kush Suneja, design manager at Murano Lighting says: “Over the years, our Murano Lighting team has honed its skills to take on the most difficult design and execution challenges in the world’s most ambitious city. We take the approach of shifting from a know-it-all to a learn-it all mindset, drawing inspiration from Satya Nadella, the amazing transformation Guru.
Working closely with interior designers such as HBA, WA International, and MMAC, we help weave the final layers of space by being as involved in every step of the job as possible, ensuring the required intensity and depth of final touches that the market expects in their beloved spaces.” Suneja further explains: “For example, if you look closely, you will notice that the award-winning Brasserie Boulud Specialty Restaurant at Sofitel the Obelisk, which will open in November 2020, was prepared structurally and electrically by our dedicated team of designers, engineers, and technicians in close collaboration with Khansaheb Interior Division. The parametric flow design of the 21m-long spiral-shaped chandelier with 550 glass elements captures the imagination of all restaurant guests, making its presence felt in the room. The detailing, right down to the fixing of the glass elements to the antique mirror ceiling, is what makes this piece unique. Khansaheb and Murano worked together to ensure the suspension went as smoothly as possible. This one-of-a-kind chandelier received compliments from all corners of the design industry, much to our delight.”
Murano Lighting’s team is constantly striving to improve, learning everything it takes to go above and beyond stipulated design. They have also implemented a cuttingedge design validation system that uses mathematical scatter plots to visualise parametric designs and understand where there is room for improvement to take the idea to the next level of wow and intrigue. “This unique opportunity to work at the crossroads of technology and art inspires us to create deeply inspired craftmanship work. We are improving our product design skills through online learning in order to provide more value and design versatility to our valued clients,” Suneja adds. Moving forward, Suneja’s sights are set on the entire region to provide quality service to spaces that want to stand out. They are currently looking to deliver 5-star hotel lighting projects in the MENA region with the assistance of their industry partners in order to keep the new roaring twenties decade on track.
Acoulite is the Middle East’s leading distributor of lighting and acoustic solutions. Since its humble beginnings in 2005, its unique approach to understanding exactly what its clients want has established it as the “go-to” authority on lighting and acoustic products. Acoulite began with commercial offices and has since expanded to supply multinational corporations such as Visa, LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook, as well as well-known local companies such as Aldar HQ and DU. The next sector which started to use Acoulite’s services was F&B and hospitality which led to some iconic landmarks such as Zuma, LPM, Mint Leaf and even hotels like the Fairmont, Premier Inn, and Holiday Inn.
Since then, Acoulite has increased its presence in almost every Gulf nation and the majority of the fit-out business, whether it be for commercial projects like Bloomingdales in Kuwait or educational ones like the Mohammed bin Rashid Library or Herriot Watt University in DIFC. Acoulite opened offices in Qatar, Riyadh, and Kuwait in their first 10 years and supplied their biggest project to date in 2015 – The \ ACOULITE Doha Festival City. Acoulite has continued to expand and have now 60 employees and a turnover of AED50mn per year with a real focus on expanding its KSA business, which has done well in procuring PIF HQ recently. The brand attributes its success to its partners, who assisted us in developing their offering. Acoulite collaborates with interior designers such as Bluehaus, Gensler, AAID SAY Studio, JLL, and DWP. Light Touch, Umaya, and Studio Nulty are examples of lighting designers. They work with ATS, KPS, BW, INC, Summertown, and Khansaheb as well as FLOS, XAL, LED Linear, Intra, NEKO, and many other manufacturers. They still have some very distinctive products, such as Coelux, which simulates the sun and the sky.
Managing director, Terry Woodley believes: “We need to be focussed on lighting that supports human-centric spaces and that means the people in the areas have control of the lighting they use. There need to be daylight sensors, so that the light levels change with light that comes from the outside, also lighting temperature shifts with people’s moods throughout the day and finally different types of lights for different areas even in the facility, i.e. break out spaces, quiet spaces, innovation, and collaboration rooms. Also, we need to take account of the environment, so we need to support companies that are environmentally friendly and have a real focus on products that are sustainable and energy conservative. The manufacturing process should be looked at to reduce co2 emissions, use materials that are biodegradable and low energy manufacturing processes.” Woodley further adds: “I would like to create a group of like-minded professionals from different areas within the fit-out industry, such as partitioning, MEP, flooring, designers lighting, acoustics, furniture, etc. to develop best practices in the design of human-centric facilities.”.
Nulty is an award-winning lighting design consultancy working with some of the world’s foremost architects and interior designers. Collaboration and teamwork are at the heart of the practice. Improving life through light, no matter what the scale, is the goal.
Nulty, the region’s leading independent lighting design practice, is dedicated to using light to transform architecture and spaces in a sustainable and aesthetic manner. As a result, the team is constantly striving to redefine how lighting is used, and each design is scrutinised in terms of sustainability, buildability, maintainability, longevity, and affordability.
Nulty has expanded its project portfolio across MENA in recent years, and is now involved in several of the region’s most prominent giga projects. Working on projects with ambitious scope and vision has allowed the team to deliver lighting design innovation and creativity on a significantly larger scale than ever before.