Philips Selecon

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Philips Selecon love theatre.  “It’s the only industry where wishing a person good luck is considered bad luck.”

From research and development to the factory floor, what drives the team is the show. The show is always on. Philips Selecon make light to direct attention, cause an effect, paint a picture and give form to ideas.

Where our light falls experiences are made. For us, backstage has always been centre stage. Here’s to the magicians who make theatre happen.”

Company History

The passion for performance that was responsible for the formation of the company over twenty years ago continues to fuel the desire to listen, understand and respond to our colleagues in order to deliver better tools to light the ‘theatre of life’ – stages, retail, museums and galleries of the world; wherever creative lighting is being applied.

Selecon luminaires can be found in places as disparate as the Opera Bastille, Paris; the Royal Tyrell Museum, AB, Canada; Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre, Ukraine; the Grand Theatre, Blackpool, UK; the Sydney Opera House, Australia and the Hong Kong Science Museum. The broad range of products we produce includes families of Fresnels, PC spots, fixed and zoom ellipsoidals, stage, cyclorama and groundrow floods, followspots and display luminaires.

“A company like us, with short runs of a diverse range of products is well suited to a country like NZ,” explains Managing Director, Jeremy Collins. “We have very good precision extrusion and pressure die casting industries in New Zealand, and the scales of production that we require; regular short runs can generally be easily accommodated.” This strategy allows Selecon to get the materials it requires, without carrying the overhead of large quantities of stock.

It is that wide range of specialised products that differentiates Selecon from the rest of the field. Over the past decade, Selecon has produced more new products than any other luminaire manufacturer: possibly as many as the all of the other major players combined. The range of profile spots for example, includes both the world’s narrowest zoom (5.5° to 13°) and the world’s widest (90°) spots – both available with a choice of four discharge and incandescent light sources. Its Pacific cool beam profiles are demonstrably cooler than anything else available, and have spawned a whole new industry in the production of low-cost, disposable gobos, printed with the office printer on cheap overhead transparency film.

Selecon was started in 1969 by Walter Coleman who developed a 6″ Fresnel using a P28 based lamp to meet the needs of the New Zealand education market. When Jeremy Collins and Andrew Nichols bought the company in 1985 they had already decided to focus on the export market, and it continues to be a point of pride that since that time, Selecon have not only never copied anyone else’s product, they have been at the forefront of innovation. The company’s initial export market was Australia, and later South-East Asia. This was followed by moves into Europe and more recently North America. Today Europe is Selecon’s largest territory, with the UK as its single largest market.

Selecon’s philosophy is that by working in-house, rather than contracting out the design of each product, they will build up a coherent design philosophy and a good knowledge and understanding of the underlying technologies. This in turn has brought synergies in the design of subsequent products, and eventually led to the development of the architectural product range.

The Product Development team’s record of outside-the-square solutions to design problems is notable. A patent on the dichroic-coated glass reflector system used in some other manufacturer’s cool beam profile spots led Selecon’s team to seek a different heat management solution for their Pacific luminaires. Their approach has proved to have several advantages. Aside from the fact that Selecon’s design filters the heat from the entire output of the light collection system (as compared with about 70% in the patented design), the simpler reflector used, is inherently better suited to dichroic coating. The Pacific’s flat reflector exhibits substantially smaller variations in colour output than that found in curved or multifaceted shapes. An additional benefit is that the lamp base can be kept much cooler than in other designs, thereby prolonging the lives of both the lamp and the lamp base, and thus reducing the total cost of owning the luminaire. This is has also enabled Selecon to confidently offer a three year warranty on the luminaires.

The future for Selecon is about expanding product range rather than marketplaces, especially for the architectural display range. “We are not interested in making downlights or fluorescent fixtures” states Collins. “We have developed a lot of optical expertise in light collection systems, and will continue to develop products that can take advantage of that expertise.”

Our thanks to Andy Ciddor, the writer of this text which originally appeared in a Selecon profile article for Lighting & Sound International magazine (UK) in 2003.