To make outdoor fabric structures and displays stand out, integrated lighting systems are setting new standards.
No matter what the fabric structure or whether it’s installed outdoors or inside, illumination adds the finishing touch, transforming the extraordinary into something even more unforgettable and making an ordinary tent or display much more memorable. Lighting invites people in, helps set mood and tone and directs their attention. On a more practical side, lighting keeps people safe, allowing them to linger longer in an exhibit, or work within the structure without concern they might trip over something unseen. All of this has converged to make lighting an integral component for fabric structures and tensioned fabric products, tents, canopies, displays and event backdrops.
“Lighting is super important,” says Damien Vieille, CEO of Vitabri by Ins’TenT. Located in Huntington Beach, Calif., the tent and signage manufacturer specializes in high-quality custom products to help brands stand out at events.
“No one wants to go into a dark-looking tent, unless it’s Halloween,” says Vieille. “So, we offer rechargeable LED lights that last up to eight hours and can be used to give extra light under a tent. These work well because they bring in enough light at you that you don’t have to deal with cords and so on.”
LEDs have enhanced the competiveness of specialty and custom fabricators, enabling them to more effectively partner with their clients, providing them with plenty of lighting options. Consider Air Dimensional Design (AirDD). Located in North Hollywood, Calif., the company offers an array of illuminated sculptural fabric shapes (Hi-Light™ inflatables) and other 3-D decorative inflatable elements. Recently, AirDD completed its move from incandescent lights to LEDs for all of its products, says Doron Gazit, company founder.
“For our suspended designs we offer an omnidirectional LED light, especially designed by AirDD for the Hi-Lights,” he says. “This LED light unit can be operated through a wireless DMX and provides all the ‘wow’ effects of color change and music synching. This feature is especially popular for dance floors.”
Aaron Helfman, vice president of business development for Tectonics, a Warren, Mich.-based company that provides a variety of architectural and fabric solutions, says the company’s fabric structures incorporate LED lights but utilize CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) as well. He will use those lights, often with a mogul base, in combination with acrylic globes and custom components the company produces that combine the parts into a single fixture.
According to Helfman, even when it comes to outdoor installations or displays, people are requesting more lighting, such as spotlights, edge lighting, glowing illumination or color-changing lights. He foresees these requests for lighting becoming more common.
“With so many options for fixtures and programmable controllers, we’re seeing more and more lighting incorporated into outdoor structures,” he says. “This is really the golden age for lighting.”
Pamela Mills-Senn is a freelance writer based in Long Beach, Calif.