A Fireside Chat with Charles Stone

by | Jan 16, 2024 | News

In a candid fireside chat on the first day of Light Middle East 2024, the focus shifted to the role of luminaire design when Martin Lupton surprised Charles Stone with the news that FMS’ Vader luminaire, produced in collaboration with Targetti, had been shortlisted for Outdoor Product of the Year by Light + Intelligent Buildings.

It is somewhat unusual for US lighting designers to be involved in designing luminaires—a practice that is quite commone in Europe.

Charles, curious about the number of fellow lighting designers in attendance, discovered that a third of the audience identified as such. He detailed FMS’ history of designing bespoke luminaires, noting that despite creating over a thousand designs, FMS had historically never received royalties for any sales by manufacturers. To address this, FMS created an internal product design team, including Charles, a few long-time associates and a few new employees.  

He recounted the group’s initial challenge: their first Lightolier fixture design saw no orders after six months on the market, a fact Charles described with the wry observation that they couldn’t do “worse than zero.” Despite this setback, the team persisted in refining their designs.

Martin’s announcement of the Vader luminaire’s accolade marked a significant turn for FMS, as Charles acknowledged, “Being shortlisted signals that we are moving in the right direction.”

Charles Stone and Martin Lupton

Charles Stone and Martin Lupton pose for a picture after their fireside chat

Charles explained that designing these luminaires is good for the industry but is a minuscule portion of their revenue. But he is genuinely excited about the Vader and challenged me to learn more.

The industry awaits the 10th annual Light Middle East Awards, to be held on Thursday, 18 January at the Palazzo Versace Hotel, where the Vader luminaire’s nomination will be amongst those honored.