Interview with lighting designer Michael Rahr

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Michael Rahr

Lighting designer Michael Rahr takes on the exhibition design for SGM’s large-scale stand of 210 sqm at Prolight+Sound 2014.


SGM News interviews Michael about his approach when engaged in the specific task of designing both a stand concept and light show for a lighting manufacturer — as well as his take on where the lighting market Is heading.

Why and how did you become a part of SGM’s exhibition design?

“Last year I had the opportunity to use a number of SGM’s products at Roskilde Festival in Denmark. Later I met with Peter Johansen at LDI in Las Vegas, where we talked in depth about products and design. I must have enticed him with some ideas, as he asked if I would like to come up with a design concept, which I of course thought could be cool.”

What type of design work do you normally engage in?

“I work on a variety of projects from lighting design to content creation, 3D drawings to holograms; the list is long but it’s the variety of the work that drives me.”

What is the idea behind your design for the SGM stand at Prolight+Sound 2014?

“Harmony. I want to combine colours, beams, pixels and light into a beautiful harmony. It is important to me that it all plays together. I want to use the products to light up the entire area – more than just showing features and random colours and effects.”

What is interesting to you in designing the SGM stand? What has been your challenge?

“I like what SGM stands for – not just the quality of the products, but the vision behind it, and where they want to go. The biggest challenge has definitely been to display as many products as possible and at the same time keep the harmony to make a perfect picture. And then afterwards being able to take a step back and think ‘yeah that looked quite nice, but I can still do do more!’”

From where do you draw inspiration for your designs?

“From everyday life actually. I tend not to search for inspiration — you know it when you see it and if that doesn’t work I jump into my car and drive around for hours. Amazing things can happen when you have nothing to do other than drive.”

How do you characterise your design work in five words?

“Innovative, harmonic, trustworthy, playful, daring to be crazy.”

How does that correspond to working with SGM?

“Quite well I think. SGM know what they want and where they are going, and I like that. It’s important to have an open mind and not to be afraid to throw ideas up in the air. At our concept meetings, SGM has been very open to that approach.”

Where do the challenges of designing light shows for a lighting manufacturer lie?

This was actually one of the biggest challenges. For trade shows you normally use lighting fixtures to enhance products or services and the lighting fixtures in most cases should preferably not be seen or take focus from the object you want to enhance. I went around this in two ways: the products on display should be treated not just as lighting fixtures but as products on display … just as if you are doing a car show. The products themselves should look good! Secondly I needed to treat the SGM lighting fixtures as products showing off what they can produce lighting-wise.”

What is the most important thing for you to consider when choosing a lighting fixture?

“That’s simple; what are you going to use it for? I always select some key fixtures where I can be very specific and demanding to their features and specifications. The key fixtures must always be of a certain standard and work flawlessly. For the secondary fixture, I look into availability and make it work.”

What does SGM’s product range offer you as lighting designer?

“I think SGM have a range of versatile products that can be used for different applications. For one thing, you know that you will get a lot of light output. Moreover, the colours look really good and most importantly they’re reliable! For many of my designs I need to consider what equipment the lighting company can supply, but I quite often request the SGM P-5 — another product from the range.

“Something else that is important for me as a designer is the support I can get from the manufacturer or distributor. Some designs are straightforward while others are a bit more demanding in respect of the products. I like the fact that I can get a straight answer from SGM.”

Looking towards the future with your experience, how do you see the lighting industry evolving?

“That is a quite tricky question actually. There’s no doubt that LED technology will move forward as will the integration with lighting and motion graphics. I think we will see the basic lighting fixtures as we have now with more features, lower weight, more light output, weather-proof qualities, low power consumption, etc. But in order to make new ground-breaking products, you have to play…think differently; for example to create a moving light ‘drone’ that can hover above the audience. This may not be possible or safe at the moment, but thinking outside the box does lead to new innovations.”


Michael Rahr is a conceptual designer who for the past 20 years has been making lighting, video and concept designs for entertainment/performances and corporate events and exhibitions on the global arena.

Apart from designing the SGM booth at Prolight+Sound 2014 in Frankfurt, Michael is currently in the design process for the Danish Roskilde Festival and the new ground-breaking experience Corabelle, a haven for fans of electronic music, in Denmark.

SGM Light A/S · Sommervej 23 · 8210 Aarhus V · Denmark · Phone: +45 70 20 74 00 · E·mail: