PaperCity Magazine

January 2018- Houston

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the full collection retail to the public. Circa Lighting has eight additional showrooms across the country, including one in Houston, and sells online. In February 2017, Visual Comfort was acquired by AEA Investors LP, a venerable global firm founded in 1968 to invest on behalf of such blue-chip families as the Rockefellers, Mellons, and Harrimans. The partnership infused the company with $630 million, and Singer became chairman of Visual Comfort, as well as its largest single investor. Visual Comfort also became the umbrella over Generation Brands, which AEA purchased last year. Its portfolio includes companies with more popularly priced lighting, along with a premium architectural lighting company that makes down lights, low lights, and voltage track systems. Singer now oversees Generation Brands as chairman as well. The landmark deal made Visual Comfort the largest and most powerful decorative-lighting company in the world. "It was a very big moment," Singer says. "It's exciting. It's humbling, for sure." Even though 2017 was a banner year for Visual Comfort, Singer is busy preparing for the next decade, where he says the future of decorative lighting is in LEDs. Peter Bristol, whom Visual Comfort brought on board in 2017, is helping lead the way with cutting-edge design and innovation. Bristol — who is also director of industrial design at virtual reality company Oculus — is creating minimalist lighting for Visual Comfort that's both futuristic and beautiful, sometimes nothing more than an illuminated circle or a slip of beautifully patinated brass from which a light source emanates. LEDs will ultimately change how lighting looks, Singer points out, just as the flame defined the candlestick and light bulbs have driven the design of the electric lamp. "Once LED technology is fully there and we know it's reliable, we'll use our expertise to create beauty around it," he says. "It's a really exciting time." Future innovations aside, Visual Comfort's stellar design partnerships remain Singer's driving force. The company is seeking collaborations with important designers in Asia and Europe, and he is also working his magic with Visual Comfort's sister company, Generation Brands. His first collaboration with Generation Brands is a pretty big deal — one he's not made public until now. "I've just signed Ellen DeGeneres," says Singer, who plans to launch her collection in October 2018. "Ellen has a phenomenal eye and great taste. She loves home and already has a great collection of furniture with Thomasville, so she's perfectly aligned with what we want to create with Generation Brands." The association with DeGeneres is already buzzing through the industry. Meanwhile, Singer plans to keep growing Visual Comfort, with the goal of obtaining a huge chunk of the global decorative-lighting pie. "We are aiming for 25 percent of the worldwide market share over the next 30 years — and if we attain just half that, we'll be very, very happy," he says. Given his extraordinary track record, there's no reason to think the company won't. And Singer is already visualizing it: "If we keep our heads down, focus on that 25 percent, and continue to build on the reputation we've built, good things should happen." Keeping up with orders, Singer's desk HAPPY NewYear FROM PAPERCITY MAGAZINE

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