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All things neon

As the niche market of neon signage glows in the glory of a resurgence over the last decade, Summer Brooks asks: “Where do you see neon in ten years’ time?”

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Ben Reynolds, director, Carousel Lights

All things bright

As long as companies like Carousel Lights are pioneering innovative designs and different ways of incorporating neon into lighting solutions, then neon’s prospects are bright and colourful. A lot of our customers in the visual display and merchandising sector only want real neon as it’s the ‘real deal’, whilst other customers, particularly in the hospitality and event production sectors are now happier to consider Neon Ultra - replica LED neon – due to it being more robust. So there may be a further shift towards Neon Ultra, but there will always be a strong market for real neon. The colours available are absolutely stunning, and when neon is incorporated into a bigger lighting feature with elements such as fairground lights, something we often get asked for, the results can be jaw-dropping.


A lot of our customers in the visual display and merchandising sector only want real neon as it’s the ‘real deal’

At the end of the day, the key driver for neon’s longevity will be maintaining customer demand and the way we do that is to propose stunning designs to our clients and then price it competitively. As a current holder of the esteemed Cool Brand accolade, and being featured in the current Cool Brands book, customers are reassured that their neon design briefs are in capable hands with Carousel Lights. On top of that, all of our neon is made in the UK, so whilst we’ll never be the cheapest as we can’t compete with the Far East prices – and we don’t want to as they’re not comparable products – our neon works well, turnaround times are fast, and if in the unusual instance of there being a problem, we’re here to fix it.

It’s important to remember that neon isn’t a fad. It’s been around for years and has had a resurgence of late due to companies such as Carousel Lights producing beautiful designs that perform the job that our clients require, whether that’s attracting customers in to their premises, building brands or spreading the word on social media with selfie lights – something we’re getting asked for a lot.

In a nutshell, I expect the profile of neon to be similar in ten years’ time to how it is now, but with a slight shift to more Neon Ultra and different design applications being used – watch this space to discover what they are!


A niche market

David Pigott, founder, Southern Neon

I got into neon sign-making by accident, actually. I was a sign-fitter and I went with a sign-making friend to pick up a piece of neon from a glass shop. I got talking with the chap, and after a few months of practising he gave me a job.

Where do I see neon in ten years’ time? Well, I’ll be retired by then! But I think it will stay the same. It will be a niche product for people who want something real. I don’t think it will stop being made but I also don’t think people will start up new [neon] businesses.

It’s difficult to say – there have been a lot of changes over the last decade and certainly over the last 30 years, especially as people’s expectations change. I serve a whole range of clients, from people looking for a bespoke piece for their home, to a company wanting something in its reception area, and then you have the nightclubs, pubs and restaurants. There is still a lot of interest in neon from a range of markets, but the issue we’re facing is that the price of materials is going up, which is disappointing.


There’s definitely been an increase for a demand in neon, but I’m generally asked for exposed neon these days

There’s definitely been an increase for a demand in neon, but I’m generally asked for exposed neon these days. Neon used to be used everywhere, it was illuminated around every corner. Business has slowed at the moment, but I think that might have something to do with the uncertainty of Brexit.

I don’t think LED can compete, but who knows. It is getting better and better, but it just doesn’t look the same. I think sometimes photographs can make it look brighter than it is. The thing about neon, is that is has been developed to be less energy consuming and it is much safer too, which a common misconception about neon.

We still do quite a lot of restoration projects and we’ve repaired quite a few old signs that people come in with. I do think that eventually, there won’t be that many people around to do it anymore, which is a shame.

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