marino_furlan_intra_lighting
Photo credit: Intra Lighting

Industrial designer Marjeta and her husband Marino Furlan, engineer, established Intra Lighting company in 1989. Today, the Slovenian company employs 350 people in three countries, exports to 66 countries and it is considered to be the leading global niche producer of smart lighting with LED technology. Their lightning is not just good looking, it’s also smart and popular. It has been installed in Microsoft’s European headquarters, as well as in offices of Ferrari and Facebook, but also in Armani, Calvin Klein, and Adidas stores, as well as grocery stores, and even banks. Also hospitals, for example, are being lightened by this Slovenian product that has been constantly receiving awards. The founder and president of the company, Marino Furlan, is well aware that lights are important also for events. We talked to him about the success of the company, about how proper lights are important, and why the event is better when the lights are right.

Q: The concept of your lights is related to approximation towards the natural light. Why is this important?

The perfect light is natural, of course, it dictates our rhythm of life, but the fact is that we spend most of our time indoors. We try to bring the spectrum of light emitted by modern LED technology closer to the natural light spectrum. Our guideline, which we have developed over the years of experience, is ‘The light, where we need it, when we need it, and as much as we need it’. If there is no light, we do not see. If there is too much light, neither the elements in the room nor the architecture come to the fore. We need to be aware that light is not only functional but it can also affect human well-being.

Q: You often emphasize the need for sustainable development, calling for less energy consumption.

Respect for and responsible treatment of the environment is extremely important. The luminaires are made from 93% recyclable materials. For packaging we use cardboard, we heat on biomass. As much as 42% of our energy is generated from our own solar power plant, soon we intend to cover all of our own needs. Newer cars are hybrid powered, we have removed plastic bottles, plastic pots, etc. We put a lot of emphasis on health and a healthy environment.

vienna_house_warsaw_hotel_intra_lighting
Photo credit: Vienna House Warsaw Hotel / Intra Lighting

Q: Why are your lights ‘smart’? How do they work?

Today we understand under ‘smart’ something related to a smartphone – but we must manage the functions ourselves. This way we can also use smart phone for lighting control, of course, but the savings are modest. We save the most by not over-lighting, but rather only as much as needed – so we need a smart lighting solution, not a smart lamp.

Q: You also equip convention centers. Why is it important that space has the right light?

In convention halls, it is important that light has the right intensity and color and does not blink. At Intra we have developed a part of the lamp that allows the so-called ‘Dim to Warm’ control and prevents the light from flashing. While the naked eye does not detect flashing, it is very disturbing for cameras. In addition, in congress halls, which are often multifunctional (conferences as well as social receptions), the dynamics of light must be ensured – both functional light and emotional, and this is precisely what this system enables us to do. With the emotional light we can influence the atmosphere, well-being, etc.

Q: How does the light in large halls that can accommodate several thousand people differ from, for example, rooms that hold only smaller meetings?

There is no significant difference. In both cases, we need dynamic light that is adjusted to the content that takes place in the room – whether it is a normal meeting or a lecture or a more informal event.

Q: Which convention centers and hotels have you equipped with your lighting?

We equip convention centers and hotels worldwide. We have recently completed two convention halls in northern Italy – in Trento and Vicenza, the GREEN GOLD Convention Center in Zagreb, as well as hotels like the Stars’n’Bars in Dubai, the Saga Lounge in Iceland, Zhero in Austria, the Diplom-IS in Norway and many others …

laverpassage_amsterdam
Photo credit: Donald Murphy

Q: You are equipping the Australia’s tallest Grand Casino Sydney and the airport in Doha. How does that look?

Crown Sydeny is currently under construction in Sydney. The project, which combines a casino and a hotel, is expected to be completed in 2021 and, interestingly, it will be Australia’s only the second so far legal casino. The building will measure 271 meters high, 75 storeys, which means it will be the tallest building in the city and will surpass the current recorder –  Chifley Tower. In the first phase, we will equip up to the 7th floor with 2.3 km of lights, including our lamp Cove by Australian designer Mark Elliot. The 6 km long Tracker light will illuminate the Hamad International Airport in Doha.

Q: There is a rumour that you will equip the exhibition pavilions at Expo 2020 in Dubai?

We are involved in architectural projects, discussing participation in three pavilions – Slovenian, Japanese and Pakistani.

gimnazija_poljane
Photo credit: J. Marolt

Q: This year, your company is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Cogratulations! You are marking it by setting up a Light Lab or Experience Lab where visitors can fully experience the light. Can you tell us more about this project?

The Experience Center will offer the possibility of experiencing light with all five senses. We will build on sensations, because don’t only see the light, but we also feel it. The Lab brings the possibility of having a  personal experience of the light, better presentations to customers and other interested public, organization of lectures, trainings, cooperation with companies, schools, research and educational institutions … Its opening is planned for the next spring.

Q: What are your plans for your business in the future?

We are about to open a new company in America, starting a new story, and in the future also production. This increases our stability as our dependency on markets in Europe is reduced. We are trying to diversify our exports so as to become independent of the crises that are always happening in 1 to 2 of the 11 economic regions.

Q: And in what light do you personally feel best?

I feel best with emotional illumination. Having a good old candle. Which, of course, is not always functional, so it’s nice to be able to create one with a lamp.

intra_lighting
Photo credit: Intra Lighting