Glamox: A publication for our times

When is a product catalogue not a product catalogue? When it doubles as a lighting monograph.

There may still be a few designers and engineers out there not using computers. Maybe some of them are still measuring in cubits. But most of us now see the world through the window of our computer monitor – that place from whence all information flows.

Which makes the lighting catalogue something of an anachronism. Doesn’t it? Can we trust printed information that may be months, even years, old, when the informational world moves so very quickly?

The truth of the matter is that the print catalogue has been replaced by PDF datasheets, and manufacturers tend to be measured by the accessibility of their websites (which makes the clunkiness of some of the big industry beasts’ efforts all the more surprising). But it has left the manufacturers (and their sales teams) with a bit of a problem.

Many of us cut our professional teeth facing down the steely-eyed glare of the studio receptionist: ‘Just here to drop off our latest catalogue. Perhaps I could have a chat with your librarian?’ But those days are long gone, along with the cubit measuring stick.

So what’s this that’s just dropped with a meaningful thump onto the mat? It’s got a manufacturer’s name on the cover, so it must be a catalogue. But it’s offering me articles and features; insights into recent projects and explanatory pieces on new technology. And I can’t find the products. So what is Glamox up to?

Actually, this is very clever. The catalogue is the size of a coffee table book, printed on good quality paper and with excellent photography. And the content supports the conceit – this is definitely a book to have lying around, for the inspiration it provides. Of course, the products are there, just not where you expect them to be. And certainly not in the format we’ve been taught to expect.

Product information is pared down to the essential: a small image, basic technical information, but NO photometric data. Why waste all that paper when you can visit www.glamox.com for that level of detail? (And, by the by, the website is an easy place to while away a little time in search of that ideal fixture for your project.)

Glamox has a bit of form in this area. Lux & Lumen has claimed space on the coffee table next to an earlier publication, Welcome to our World of Light! Almost 300 pages of project images, providing the hungry designer with any number of examples of Glamox installations across the architectural sectors. I, for one, am more than happy to see on-trend office interiors cheek-by-jowl with heavy industrial environments. Eye of the beholder and all that.

Perhaps Lux & Lumen is the first example of the lighting catalogue as monograph. It’s a concept that the architectural community understands well – the bookshop at RIBA HQ in London is heaving with architectural monographs from all sorts of companies on all sorts of projects. Perhaps it’s time that we claimed some of the higher ground for the quality of our imagination and realisation of Good Lighting.