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Lighting excellence in the Middle East: MELDA Awards get backing from Jonathan Speirs

Part of the successful UK-based Speirs and Major Associates partnership (with Mark Major) the architect has also praised the initiative, stating that PALME is not only recognising the convergence between entertainment and architectural lighting technologies, manifest in some of the major projects in the Gulf, but that the prestigious Lighting Design Awards also positively encourage creativity, both locally and across the world.

“PALME has shown itself to be a good business model,” says Speirs. “It is well attended and Install Middle East in particular is demonstrating the considerable crossover between the entertainment market and the rest of the industry, which you wouldn’t get in a conventional architectural lighting exhibition. There is immense opportunity for quality creative lighting design to enhance brand identity and to create fantastic destinations, and it is good that MELDA is recognising this.”

Speirs and Major Associates has itself been responsible for delivering numerous prestigious projects throughout the region, including the award-winning lighting of the Burj Al Arab. The firm is presently assisting with the development of both the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and prestigious Al Raha Beach development – the latter with Australian lead architect Esquisse.

The business of illuminating buildings in 2007, says Speirs, is all about creativity. “Designers are continually looking for the paint that goes in their paint tray, and seeking slightly more exotic equipment. What makes a project like the Grand Mosque so stimulating is that they did not want a floodlit building – they wanted an artistic response.”

But with the explosion of LED lighting, Speirs believes that too many designers today are simply using red, green and blue colour mix LEDs as an easy solution to make buildings change colour. “That’s not what it’s about – it’s just wrong! We try and advocate restraint, showing that darkness can be used equally creatively and that every light bulb has to be considered and conceived.

“This is why MELDA is such a good idea; it shows that IIR Exhibitions are trying to develop lighting excellence in the Middle East – drawing attention to the fact that not only is there a massive market but also a huge difference between average design and great design. By rewarding beautifully crafted lighting design projects they are doing precisely that.”

“These Awards celebrate quality and distinction in the Middle East and will create a benchmark of excellence which will be instantly recognisable and generate valuable publicity and marketing,” concludes group exhibitions director of IIR Exhibitions Entertainment & Installation Technology Group, Darren Brechin.