Bright Lights, Big City

by | Dec 22, 2021 | News

BDNY Heads Back to NYC as New Lighting Exhibitors Illuminate Our Hopes for Hospitality

November was a big month in New York City. Not only did the holiday season get under way with some well-needed festive sights and sounds, but Boutique Design New York (BDNY) returned to the Javits Center for this year’s iteration; and it’s safe to say from the good vibes on the show floor that attendees were ready to celebrate its triumphant return. As the leading trade fair and conference for hospitality’s boutique and lifestyle design community, the event brings together architects, designers, developers, hoteliers, purchasing agents, and owners with manufacturers to discover new products in lighting, furniture, flooring, fabrics, art & accessories, wall coverings, and more. Taking place over two days each November (save for 2020), this year BDNY was co-located with ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) + WantedDesign Manhattan as well as HX: The Hotel Experience Powered by AAHOA. There was much to take in, but we were able to catch up with two first-time exhibitors to get their take on the experience, industry trends, and what they think the lighting sector will look like in a post-pandemic world.

As a first-time exhibitor, experiencing a tradeshow like BDNY is an exhilarating experience. The Javits Center is a sight to behold, and with all Covid protocols in place, the buzz inside was (pardon the pun) electric. “We were particularly excited to participate in the 2021 BDNY show for several reasons, starting with the absence of an in-person hospitality event in NYC for several years and the excitement for clients to finally see products and connect with vendors in person,” says Frank Leyon, principal at BEACON Custom Lighting. “Having ICFF + WantedDesign at the Javits simultaneously was an added bonus as it diversified the audience. Beacon Custom Lighting is a great example that high-end product design must be experienced in person. Even with the greatest photography and digital collateral, pictures never fully capture our product’s unique artistry and vibe.”

In fact, speaking of BEACON products, the company was a Finalist as a Best of BDNY Product Design Competition Honoree for its Pond Pendant, which prompted us to wonder what trends the company is seeing in the market. “More so than ever, better hospitality companies and high-end interior design/architecture firms are looking for one-of-a-kind, customizable, high-end products,” notes Leyon. “We believe the main reason why our focused introduction— Pond—had such a big response at BDNY was that we presented a design nobody had ever seen before. It isn’t any longer just about functionality and USB ports in lamp bases but beauty, functionality, and quality equally contributing to the design.”

The Pond Pendant Photo courtesy of BEACON Custom Lighting

Now that we are living in a post-pandemic world, we were also curious if the demand for custom lighting requests is rising with so many people in work-from-home and/or hybrid-work situations. “Since 1997, the majority of our business has been custom work. The biggest change we have been observing is that our customer base used to be 80% pure, high-end hospitality and is now steadily shifting towards A&D clients leveraging their access and ability to effectively use custom manufacturing to expand their business,” reveals Leyon. With the majority of BEACON’s clients not purchasing anything mass-produced or off-the shelf, he continues, they recently added several electrical engineers and graphics employees to help with turnaround and response time for custom drawings. “We do not believe that demand for high-quality, unique designs will wane anytime soon!”

Also excited about making its big debut at BDNY was Zafferano America, a winner among the Best of BDNY Product Design Competition Honorees for its Pina Pro Lamp – Black. “This is our first year of doing BDNY, so my boss is pretty pleased about that—we were really excited,” David M. Bryant, Lighting Sales Manager. “I had been at BDNY three years ago with another company, so I told him that it’s a good show for hospitality—heavy hitters from the hotel industry are there and restaurant groups—and he was convinced. We did get good foot traffic, a lot of good people, and good leads. It was a good quality show.”

Pina Pro Lamp Photo courtesy of Zafferano America

BDNY was actually among three tradeshows the company participated in this past year, and they have no intention of slowing down come 2022. “My boss loves great tradeshows, so we did Dallas Market in June, NY Now in August, and then BDNY in November,” notes Bryant. “We’re planning to do about six next year; 2020 obviously knocked us out, but in 2021 we weren’t sitting idle at all. Because we don’t have a showroom in New York City yet—we’re opening one next fall—this is one way we do business. These trade shows really pay off well for us.”

As far as trends Bryant is seeing in the market, he does see the impact of Covid having an effect on customer interest and needs. “I think cordless is taking off because with the pandemic, people were building all of these outside structures—whether it be restaurants, hotels, or bars—and you need lighting outside,” explains Bryant. “One of the ways I pitch my lighting is I go to a restaurant, I have a drink or a bite to eat, and I put the lamp on a table that clearly doesn’t have tabletop lighting outdoors. It’s an instant hit. Outdoor spaces need outdoor lighting, and of course it has to be cordless. People seem to like portables, LED, and no cords.”

“I think a lot of people wherever they’re working—whether it’s a mix of hybrid or at home—want to make their space as comfortable as possible, so these table lights are being used in a lot of offices as well. ”

― David M. Bryant

Bryant also believes everyone he’s met in the hotel and restaurant industries could use Zafferano America lamps everywhere. “It’s a very versatile product and something everyone is needing right now,” he notes. “They didn’t realize they needed it, but they know it when they see it. They say, ‘yes, we could use that,’ and it’s fun to see.” That’s not just the case with consumer interest at home or hospitality venues either. New clients are emerging in the commercial and contract space, too. “I think a lot of people wherever they’re working—whether it’s a mix of hybrid or at home—want to make their space as comfortable as possible,” concludes Bryant, “so these table lights are being used in a lot of offices as well. We recently did a WeWork a project and they bought a bunch of lights and put them in the waiting areas and some desks because it just looks more inviting.”

This article was originally featured in the December issue of designing lighting (dl)