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The IES Portland Section had a blast participating in the 2019 IES LIGHTEN UP! Luminaire Competition for the second year in a row. Fourteen IES sections participated across the U.S. and Canada, all on the same day. Social media exploded (#2019LightenUp) as teams across North America tried to outdo each other, peaking with the close of online voting in June.

LIGHTEN UP! brings local IES members and colleagues together to engage, inspire and challenge one another to create a handmade luminaire made by combining technology with everyday objects. LIGHTEN UP! began as a section event in Washington, D.C. and has gone IES-wide, sponsored in 2019 by Acuity Brands, Custom Architectural Lighting Solutions and OLEDWorks. It’s exciting, fun, and just a little competitive.

Basically, each local section forms teams of four or more. These teams are given a couple hours to build a light fixture out of a lighting module (OLED-type supplied by Acuity Brands this year) and a variety of items and materials from Michaels or the dollar store. Our event included a hodgepodge of items such as tissue paper, beads, wire, glass bits, theatrical gels, glue sticks, and even the wrapping material from the lighting module!

IES Portland put together three fiercely competitive and fun-loving teams with terrific results.

Photo of the creative team named Super Luste by Pangea with luminaire.

Our super creative team was “Super Luste” by Pangea. This luminaire involved extensive drawings and planning by a lighting designer and rep combo team. The result was a precision optical system composed of broken mirrors reflecting the light source, a singular wire, and adjustable optics. It even ships flat! This team spent quite a bit of time breaking mirrors outside, so I’m not sure if just seven years of bad luck will cover it.

Photo of People's Choice winner, Ljus Punkt, by I Love Lamp.

Our People’s Choice winner was “Ljus Punkt” by I Love Lamp. This team was also comprised of reps and designers, and their triangular piece exuded a soft, elegant and almost ethereal glow. The team’s description, noting 12 sizes of dowels needed for assembly, was hysterical. I think they may spend entirely too much time assembling IKEA furniture.

Photo of D-Light by Table 3 which one the Judge's Choic Award.

Lastly, our Judge’s Choice Award went to “D-Light” by Table 3 and involved three men and a baby … and a mom. The piece includes an elaborately engineered Eiffel Tower, a handcrafted sombrero, what has to be the entrance phone booth to the Ministry of Magic, and more! This team endured many challenges over the short span of the competition, including chasing the toddler around (which this judge was supposed to do) and getting distracted by arm wrestling. But, they still went on to win the whole shebang.

Photo of biluminescent jellyfish from the District of Columbia section.

Our Judge’s Choice went “mano a mano” in the online voting with the other sections, but sadly was beaten out by an impressive bioluminescent jellyfish from the District of Columbia Section. It looks like they had as much fun as we did.

It was a great time, and we certainly look forward to participating again this spring! This judge/event coordinator thanks family, friends and colleagues for helping out, especially my peers who showed up and contributed their skill, creativity and good humor. We’ll get ’em next year!

The 2020 event is scheduled for May 28, and dozens of IES sections across the US and Canada are signed up to participate. Events on the West Coast include IES sections in Anchorage, Reno and San Diego, in addition to Portland. IES members are organizing, but all levels of tinkers, makers and lighting peeps are welcome to join a team. Check out Acuity’s LIGHTEN UP! page or the @LightenUp on Instagram for photos, updates and the link to vote. (It happens quickly!) Remember, vote #iesportland for #2020LightenUp!

Jennifer Blake

About Jennifer Blake

Jennifer Blake, LC is a sales representative with Northern Illumination Company LLC, supporting her clients as they create exceptional lighting projects. She brings 20+ years of experience in sales, marketing, utility incentive programs and illumination software to this role. Currently District 6 vice chair for the Illuminating Engineering Society, she serves the IES Portland Section as past president.

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