Singapore – Hangzhou – Anji – Singapore, Weekend 21-22 May 2016
Back on the road again…this week to China in the lovely hinterland of Anji, known for its lush mountains and bamboo forests. The intensity of my visits here have increased over the last few months (I was here a little over a month ago) as we are nearing final testing and commissioning. The property is about to open next month and still a lot of fine tuning is needed. Before jetting off on Wednesday I had two days in the Singapore office which I used to introduce our new director of projects to the team so that a smooth transition can be hoped for when he starts in June. At the same time I had to deal with a project where the client is looking at going for the cheapest possible option but is asking us to do “life cycle” calculations to understand the impact.
Getting in new staff and certainly one that has to lead the team is sensitive. Some of my key designers have been with me for many, many years and are used to me and my ways of doing things so introducing a new layer of authority needs careful planning and introducing, so I had decided to ask him to come into the office prior to his official work start. We both felt that a few hours spent with each individual staff would facilitate the introduction and allow familiarisation with each other. I think it worked well and I really look forward to having him in our team.
Life cycle calculations
What our client really meant was doing ROI calculations to show the impact of using more or less expensive lighting systems. While it seemed like another bit of extra work we actually appreciated the request as it allowed us to explain why a superior quality and performance cost a bit more. We had prepared three options, one that we thought being the best, one being the next best still acceptable solution and one based on their “budget”, leaving out some components of the design to meet it. They wanted to know what benefits they would get for spending more than the budget. It allowed us to explain failure rates and lumen depreciation (L90/B10 at 50,000 hrs to L70/B50 at 30,000hrs or even less). On top of that we added in the power factor to reinforce the superior energy saving performance of the higher quality. This of course combined with other performance and quality criteria such as lighting effects, visual comfort and ease of operation and maintenance. We do not often get the chance to explain this properly and hopefully this will help them step over this ever so difficult to surmount “budget” threshold…
The rest of the week was spent in Anji, China working through the lighting installation of our hotel project which had shown several issues and problems. The two main and key issues that we had to resolve were related to emergency lighting and not surprisingly dimming of LED. To start with the first, we had discovered during our last visit that for some inexplicable reason some lights in our circuits had been linked up with an emergency battery and even worse to a switch to actually switch it on or off in case of an emergency! Really? Yes really, not an automatic switch on after a power failure, no the idea was to go to the switch and switch it on! This had resulted in the odd single down light being on a separate switch and not addressable with our dimming system (great!) as well as some double headed down lights of which one was allocated to emergency lighting. I don’t have to explain the look of having some visually non-working lights (we had to switch the emergency lighting off). I am not sure which nitwit electrical contractor had dreamed this up, but obviously this had to be rectified. The simple solution agreed with the client was to locate an actual dedicated emergency light (the spitfire/UFO type) next to the current emergency light, de-connect the emergency from the architectural lighting circuits and reconnect the lighting point back into its intended circuit. Minimal work, easy fix…
The oh, so familiar LED dimming problems…and not in a sophisticated environment like Singapore or Australia, no this time deep in the heartlands of China! I have to explain that we came late into this project as originally this client did not even have a lighting designer. At the time the client had already engaged with local lighting suppliers and even though we did get a sniff at proposing suitable lighting fittings, the client moved ahead with the procurement of the lights. From there onwards it was always going to be a tough call but as we are doing several hotels with this operator we committed to help and try getting the best out of the situation. While we had never really heard of the local Chinese brand that was purchased, we did know even less about the dimming system that “appeared”. Backed with our control schedules we impressed on the need for testing the compatibility between the system and the lights, but never really got involved. Over the last visit we had already noticed the poor quality LED typical flickering and limited dimming range, with 10% measured dimmed level still looking like at least 50% or flickering occurring at the slightest dimming action. Most of us have experienced this at one point of time. While this was a typical case of “I told you so”, we had opted to help identify and rectify the problems as good as possible. The biggest handicap proving to be the at times impenetrable Chinese culture of not wanting to lose face and therefore choosing the patch up thinks rather than to speak up about the real problem. After another inexplicable flickering and dimming mal-function, I called a halt to all works and held a “war- meeting”. It was like peeling an onion, but after nearly two hours of talks and probing we got to the heart of the matter. We were dealing with a dimming system based on a leading edge protocol (no idea about what quality as the brand was unknown if any brand at all) and lights that were a mix of cut-phase and 0-10V protocols. Through trial and error they were trying to fix it…we ordered an immediate inspection of all lights in stalled to physically find out what was actually installed as it became clear that the test had been carried out on different samples! Since the lights were installed by the contractor without our involvement we only had his feedback to relay on. At least we have a fighting chance to dramatically improve and make sure we match light and dimmer protocol. Could we have avoided this? No. Could or should we have spotted this earlier? Yes, absolutely. The lesson? Never assume anything!
Despite all the challenges we are facing it is still going to be a lovely resort…
Have a great weekend.
Singapore, Weekend 14-15 May 2016
A whole week in the office without travelling! What a luxury! It gave me ample time to focus on current projects, my team and re-thinking the office operations in the wake of the departure of my project director. We reflected as a team on how we could improve and starting to look around for a new project director. As I write my blog I believe we have already found “the one”. Time will tell of course but for now he ticks all the boxes and we will work towards confirming him in the coming week. We are all excited and are looking forward to him joining the team. This will probably be the fastest turn around between a resignation and the appointment of a successor that I have experienced in my company. It is already difficult to find good, experienced and suitable people in the first place, let alone on such quick turnaround. We are advertising for the position on several platforms and received many (sometimes desperate looking) applications. People from all walks of life, some not even related to the design or a lighting world, have been applying showing that there are a lot of either unsatisfied or unemployed people around at the moment. I do need to clarify that the applications come from all sorts of backgrounds and countries, many from outside Singapore. Many of them having CV’s not even close to what we listed as requirements of what we are looking for. Ironically we found “our guy” through own research via Linked In. In this case we found him, he did not find us…a good sign? Three times lucky they say, so fingers crossed, we are certainly excited…
Is the abundance of people looking for work a sign of slowing economic times; most probably. We do see this reflected in our daily work as well. Projects are slowing down in execution speed, some even put on hold for a while, new projects taking longer time to kick off; some with a reduced scope. There is definitely a slow-down in new projects coming in which we can measure from the reduced requests for design consultancy proposals, but we are still good with most of our on-going projects with several new ones signed just recently. On this subject I do have to mention that we have now been ”kicked out” fully from the other 2 projects that we were doing with the same client. Having been released last week from one of the projects the client decided that it was probably best to push the reset button and sadly announced they had decided to terminate our services from all of our ongoing work with them. It seems to be done in a professional manner, no finger pointing, no criticism, just a commercial business decision to stream line the consultancy services with the other (locally based) consultants. We have been asked to compile an overview of all work completed and to prepare final invoices for all of the completed work as per contractual agreement. As I mentioned last week it is a shame not to be able to complete something you started with much enthusiasm and a little sting into our pride as consultants but business is business and we have to respect client decisions. We have identified our “shortcomings” and have strengthened our resolve and experience for a next time.
One of the trendy topics of recent has been lighting system quality compliance to TM30 or L90/B10. TM30-15 is the new IES standard method for evaluating colour rendition and will replace the familiar CRI, colour rendering index. Instead of the Ra and Re colour references, the new evaluation method looks at colour fidelity (Rf) and gamut (Rg) index, mostly comparable to hue and saturation. The method uses 99 different colour evaluation samples selected from the world of possible colours and from real objects, fabrics, paints, materials, skin tones measuring the distortion between the reference samples and the measured object, indicating the capability of the lighting system to render colours to the highest possible quality and consistency. The method is a good design tool specifically where colour qualities are critical.
The L/B standard is related to defining criteria to establish a product’s performance compliance to longevity and failure. Some manufacturers are starting to promote their product quality and differentiating themselves from the “cowboys” by referring specifically to their TM30 colour quality compliance (Soora for instance) or L90/B10 quality (Erco, IGuzzini, etc.). The L and B indexes are set against a life time of 50,000 or 30,000 hours and describe the amount of remaining light output (L) and failure rate (B) over time compared to new. Obviously L100 (zero lumen depreciation) is the highest light output that could technically be achieved, but realistically L90 (10% depreciation) over 50,000 hours is considered the highest achievable. Likewise B0 (zero failures) would indicate the ultimate achievable. Reality however dictates a more realistic definition with B10 (10% failure over time) being the highest quality class. So a L90/B10 quality compliance over 50,000 hours is regarded as the highest quality followed by L80/B20, L70 B30, etc. The L index ranges from 70 to 90, the B ranges from 10 to 50 with L70/B50 over 30,000 hours being the lowest quality. Manufacturers that do not indicate their L and B index are considered to be in this lowest quality class.
It is not a much used design selling tool when we specify but something we should embrace and consider each and every time. Specifying a 10,000 lumen fixture of L90/.B10 quality versus L70/B50 means that that in the first case we still have 81% of the original lighting output (considering lumen depreciation and failure) after 50,000 hours, versus the lower quality with potentially only 35% after 30,000 hours (!!!)…that is huge! I know there are different economic considerations to consider such as budget, level of sophistication and project lifespan, but at least we should educate our clients about this quality consideration. To make this picture more complete it would be interesting to get some cost figures attached to it. For instance how much does a L90/B10 fixture cost in comparison to the same one but with a L70/B50 quality label over time. If anyone has some figures to share please do! Certainly some food for thought for this weekend
Have a great weekend.
Singapore, Weekend 7-8 May 2016
My work week started on Tuesday which also happened to be my birthday. Thanks to everyone who took the time to write me a personal message or sent me good wishes, much appreciated! Since my passport is at one of the embassies for a visa renewal I was contained in my office this week, great time to catch up on projects and get some actual design done myself! In terms of project activities it was relatively quiet due to May Day holidays being celebrated in many parts of Asia Pacific. I had a bit of time to read up on non-project related emails which brought my mind to the topic of lighting magazines, awards and events. Having returned from the Lux Live event in Abu Dhabi recently I realised how much we the marketing side of lighting has progressed. Practically every country nowadays has a magazine dedicated to lighting, lighting design awards are happening all over the world and lighting fairs and events are crowding the agenda. While not that long ago you could easily manage and keep up with it, today there seems to be a fierce battle for our attention and participation. I for one, can’t keep up with it to a level I am becoming nearly uninterested…too much!
We have always had hard copy magazine’s like the Professional Lighting Design, Mondo Arc, Lux, Lighting Today, LD+A, Lighting, A-Lighting…and the list goes on. Nearly every country seems to have one and some are published world-wide. I receive many of them, some are monthly, some are quarterly. I have been a columnist in Lighting Today magazine since 2003 and over the years have written articles or had my projects showcased in many of them. In view of the onslaught of social media you would think that the hard copy magazines would slowly dwindle, but is seems the opposite is true. That, mixed with the ever increasing number of electronic magazines, today provides for an avalanche of reading. The hard copy magazines have also find their way in internet land, with many new players from lighting associations, manufacturers and media companies now crowding the airwaves. Add to that all the chat groups, social media postings, tweets and the blogs (yes I am contributing to this, I know) and you have such a massive amount of information coming to you daily that it would be a full time job to keep up with it. It is no surprise that much of this ends up in the electronic bin or just as decoration on the coffee table…my desk is bulging from the (mostly unread) magazines…
Somehow in parallel we have seen an explosive growth in lighting award competitions, mostly driven by magazines, associations and manufacturers. We used to have only a handful elite lighting design awards such as the IALD and the IES awards, now there are so many in so many parts of the world that it becomes nearly a minefield to sort out which one would apply to you or your project or not. In the recent Lux Live Lighting Design Awards in Abu Dhabi I discover to my dismay that most lighting design awards were won by manufacturers /suppliers! Was that because they so heavily sponsor these events? I would have thought (and hoped) that lighting design awards should be predominantly to promote the professional and independent lighting designers, but perhaps I live in dreamland. One of the key conditions of becoming a professional member of a lighting design association is to be independent and earn your income solely form lighting design fees…Yes there are big multi-disciplinary companies (architects, interior designers, M&E consultants and the like who have a lighting design department to support them in turnkey projects, but competing with the independent professionals I feel is not a level playing field, let alone if we start including the manufacturers participating in design competitions. No issue with them participating but it should be in the category of “best lighting design by an architectural practice or manufacturer”! Then there is the fact of who is judging the entries and whether the judges can actually personally visit the short listed project. Too often I have the feeling that judgement at times is guided by commercial or personal relationships between the judges and the nominees. I have attended many award ceremonies even have had the honour of being a judge on a few, but very often I am flabbergasted about the judging and the award decision…I just can’t escape the feeling that award competitions have become a commercial tool by the organisers exploiting the hunger for recognition by established and young and upcoming lighting design practices. I participate from time to time, have won several awards over the years, have been ignored several times only to be shocked to see who finally won…I guess the absent are always wrong, so I better start sending in some…but I do it without much enthusiasm…J
The final category are the events, the light fairs, the conventions, the seminars and now also the internet based webinars. Fresh from Lux Live Abu Dhabi, which run nearly parallel to the spring edition of the Hong Kong Light Fair, hot on the heels of Light & Build the month before and PLDC in Rome late last year. As I write this blog The Light Fair in San Diego has just ended. Ahead (in the coming months in this region alone) are the Guangzhou Light fair, The Low Carbon Energy Summit in Korea, the Shanghai Light Fair, the Bangkok Light Fair, LED+Light Asia in Singapore and the autumn edition of the Hong Kong Light Fair just to name a few. These are just the manufacturer driven events. Next to that are the numerous lighting seminars, design events and other who all have some form of lighting and lighting design involved. I have often spoken at interior design, architectural or energy forums that embrace lighting design as an important and key element of overall good design. Some of these “conventions” and “summits” however, are actually organised by commercial cowboys jumping on the popular LED trend. I have accepted speaking at one of them in the past out of curiosity and part ignorance, but the moment that you have to pay your way (!) to deliver a talk alarm bells should be ringing as established and respected designers should be paid to share their expertise. While I do not always get speaker fees, I certainly need to get my transportation, accommodation and out of pocket expenses paid. On the other side of the medallion are the manufacturers who are continuously bombarded by requests for sponsorship. In an interesting side note, the high costs of participating in major events as L&B have pushed some manufacturers to different strategies. Rather then paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a booth at such event, they organise targeted events on the fringes inviting key specifiers and clients, a classic hot missile approach. The costs may end up the same but the ROI should be many times higher because of the personal and one on one approach…
Interesting developments and food for thoughts, feel free to share yours with me…
Have a great weekend.
Singapore, Weekend 30-1 May 2016
Guaranteed no travel over the next week as I just submitted my passport for a business visa renewal! (Un)fortunately the country’s consulate here in Singapore is not that efficient when it comes to processing applications of non-Singapore residents which means that I can only collect my passport back end of next week…This will allow me to focus on my practice, my team and my ongoing projects. With my project director resigning and being booted out of one of our projects this week I have some reflection and stabilisation work to do over the coming weeks. I guess we all go through “failures” from time to time and acknowledging them, learning from them and moving on is as much part of our lives as the successes we share. This week I would like to reflect on the two types “failures” I experienced. I do emphasize that these reflections are personal and not meant as a vindictive thought towards staff or clients, but shared in the spirit of the blog of what is going on in my life as a lighting designer.
As the founder and principal of the company that bears my name I have a responsibility towards providing for the staff that form the heart and driving force of the company as well as towards our clients in the delivery of our services to the quality and professionalism expected. This, to a large degree, comes down to people skills and managing people’s expectations. The size of our practice is considered small and with an open plan office set up we see and hear everything wat is going on in the office. We are virtually a small family that (should) care for each other and in principle have each other’s back. I certainly, as the “patriarch” of the family, have a responsibility to make sure everyone behaves as a family member and look after everyone accordingly. Like every family as we grow and mature, there are new additions and departures to and from the family. New additions or departures can unsettle the existing balance and cause disruptions and adaptation problems.
But as our little family has been growing, I have been on the lookout for a suitable “number two” to make it less dependable on me with a wider base of knowledge and team responsibility. The first one I hired was young, ambitious and self-assured. Being a tight nit group it took the team a while to accept the “new arrival” at the time but it gradually sorted itself out to a smooth working balance of power, capabilities and responsibilities. However over time he grew more ambitious and not surprisingly decided after a few years to venture out on his own. A proposed partnership in the company was not in his plans…that happens and you deal with it, but it meant starting the process over again. Did I fail in growing him as a future leader and partner? Obviously yes in regards to keeping him in my own practice, but possibly not if he succeeds in establishing himself with his own venture…time will tell.
My project director who resigned this week was deliberately the opposite, of an older generation, presumed wise, knowledgeable, mature and skillful, which had generated much expectation for a long partnership. I had judged his skills from our social encounters and professional discussions but it is only once someone is put to the test under actual work conditions that you can see if projected maturity and knowledge translate in practical project and management skills. The integration in the team and the change, inspiration and leadership that I had hoped for did not show or materialise. I attributed it to issues typical to many new beginnings, adjustment to the new work environment, a different system, my own team being “hostile” (not ready for a change?) and different styles of communication. In the end I can only blame myself. Whether the sudden resignation is an admission of his own failings or the result of shortcomings of my own leadership is academic. I assessed his competence, I assumed certain leadership qualities, made the decision. But it did not materialise and the integration failed. I am sure we both learned and can only wish him well in his new “family”.
Proud and concerned about the well-being and image of my company we strive to deliver to our clients beyond expectation. While that is easily said it is a daily challenge to achieve this with at times unreasonable deadlines and budgets to comply with. Nevertheless good communication and an efficient, tight project management generally keeps our client not only well informed but also up to date with our progress. Over the years I had very little project failures, but I have had them, the notoriously unhappy client, the-my-way-or-the-highway client, the totally unreasonable client. Regardless of how far you bent over backwards, you can never satisfy them which occasionally ends in early termination from a project. Most of the time when it happens the relationship has already deteriorated to such level that the termination is actually a relief ending the “suffering”. Invariably, and proud as I am, I see that as a failure to satisfy my client. But you can’t win them all as they say. While it may just be a personality or cultural clash, a termination is always a failure from either one or both to come to a resolve.
Coincidently the project that I had fully entrusted to my project director run into such “clash” and out of left corner we were un-ceremonially booted out of the project during this week’s site visit. We can only deduce that we did not perform up to expectation, which to me is a failure of the company regardless of how you twist and turn the story. The fact is that the client viewed our team and thus the company as incompetent or unable to perform to their satisfaction. We clearly did not manage their expectation in that respect. Could we have done better, did they change the goal posts…perhaps, perhaps not? I did not get much wiser from the de-brief and hopefully we will in the weeks to come better understand what and where we went wrong so we can learn for the future. As the principal I am obviously troubled by this, but as the “boss” I can only blame myself for not having anticipated and interfered earlier.
Meanwhile in lighting world…
To end on a brighter note I was proud to be named along my peers and shown on a large billboard at the ongoing San Diego Light Fair amongst as one of the past keynote speakers…proud to be named among some of the perceived leading lighting designers of this time…
In other news a little German town unveiled floor recessed traffic lights at a pedestrian crossing going with the times where many people today are so busy social app-ing that they look down to their phone rather then up around them! Another manufacturer used the same argument for integrating LED signage and emergency exit lighting into carpets as well…
Finally and following in the steps of the car emission scandals (Volkswagen, Mitsubishi) lighting manufacturers have been caught out on overstating performance and efficiency! It seems a worldwide epidemic for companies in all product sectors to misreport all in the name of money I dare say…
Have a great (long) weekend.
Singapore – Perth, Weekend 23/24 April 2016
Finally a week in Perth with the weather down under slowly moving to autumn. Day temperatures are still lovely in their twenties during the day, beaches still very worth of a visit, but night times cool down quickly…the sunsets remain as magical as ever… I had a “royal” week with a visit to His Majesty and a visit to The Palace…
A project I have been reporting about for years (since 2012!) is finally moving into its final stages with installation started and a big media launch scheduled sometimes towards July. His Majesty’s Theatre (HMT) in Perth is a 110 year old theatre venue where some of the greatest actors like Geoffrey Rush, Kathrine Hepburn, Sir John Gilgud, Yehudi Mehunin and Margot Fonteyn amongst others have performed. The building, by all accounts one of the oldest theatres in Australia, is an architectural icon in Perth and validating its architecture and ornamental features at night has been on the to-do list for years, but for some reason bureaucracy and budget priorities prevent it from happening. About 5 years ago the city’s Heritage Perth organisation got a state grant to apply to heritage buildings in the city and HMT was back on the radar. I was asked to develop a lighting concept which was received with great enthusiasm. Then followed literally “years” of tossing and turning the concept and execution to be within budget, operational safety and security standards, heritage restrictions and possible implementation schedules all spiced up with city and state bureaucracy…a great recipe for “success” J. But we are finally there. The final budget was approved late last year, the implementation procedures agreed and the installation contractor appointed. All light fittings have been delivered to site and this time I went through all lighting positions with the contractor so that cabling works can be undertaken to the exact positions of the lights to minimise any possible damage to the heritage building fabric. This test and review was initiated by the contractor (!) and I have to say kudos to him for understanding the critical nature of (façade) lighting and wanting to make sure he got it right! Not many contractors take this level of pride in their work. He was all prepared with prewired fixtures when we showed up making the final confirmation of the lighting positions through visual mocking up a fast and efficient affair. Can’t wait for the project to finally come to light after more than 5 year in the making!
The other “royal” project I had to attend to this week was the Palace Hotel, another historic building from the glory gold rush days that was recently renovated and restored. While it was a hotel formerly as its name indicates, it has had several other uses over the years, lastly as an office space for Bank West. Attached to the heritage building is what is known as the Bank West Tower a near 200m high building. Bank West has meanwhile moved to other premises and the new owners (a mining conglomerate) have plans to develop the heritage building as a social hub. However so far no operators have been found and the building is still in process of being finished. Because of the heritage restrictions the interior lighting was confined to the re-use existing lighting point but reconditioned to modern (LED) technology. There had been some concerns about the lighting levels on the old heritage stairs leading up to the first floor and therefore we decide to audit the installation on the lighting performance. Australian Standards indicate that lighting levels between 40 to 80 lux should be achieved as a minimum average depending on the application. The standards to indicate that in hospitality, restaurant or bar environments, lighting levels can be a bit lower due to the nature of the spaces. Initial readings on an earlier visit had indicated levels below 20 lux, but that was with some scaffolding and building materials partly obstructing the light. With the space now mostly cleaned up and free of obstructions it felt much brighter and we measured levels from 20 to 50 lux in the most critical areas. With these results we felt comfortable to advise the client that until the final usage of the spaces was confirmed the lighting was performing as desired. We did review and suggest options for lighting level improvement should this be necessary in the future, but for now we left the Palace with the recommendation that all was fine for now and the satisfaction that we had done a good job…
Have a great weekend.
Singapore – Dubai – Abu Dhabi – Singapore, Weekend 16-17 April 2016
Just one and a half day in the office in Singapore before I left for Abu Dhabi. Got some last minute project issues resolved with my team before leaving but otherwise this week was pretty much about the first ever Lux Live Event in the Middle East. I am not totally sure how I ended up as speaker there as I found that most participants were either based in the Middle East or had projects over there. While I have done a few projects in the Middle East area, it is not my prime focus, having already my hands full in Asia Pacific. Considering that previously all other Lux Live events were held in the UK, it was no surprise the UK presence was very strong. Gordon Routledge and Ray Molony have been the driving force of the Lux team and have managed to build a strong name and reputation in just a few years, both with the magazine as well as with these events. This was their first outing outside the UK and with the success of this event I am sure more will follow over time. Lux Live Middle East 2017 has already been announced…
Lux Live Concept
The event is spread over 2 days and if I understand it correctly (I never had the opportunity to attend a Lux Live event before), this event was pretty much build on the UK format. Two “speakers corners” called arena’s where people can wander at their leisure to listen to expert speakers or participate in panel discussions on specific subjects of interests. The Fagurhult sponsored Lux Arena was a more open town hall concept, while the Iguzzini sponsored Light Space Arena was a more intimate semi enclosed space. I felt the latter to be more intimate and conducive to engaging the audience then the more open Lux Arena where the actual exhibition activities impacted on focus and attention. While the Lux Arena was generally well attended, it had its lull moments, while the Light Space Arena was nearly continuously packed. The larger Lux Arena was mostly used for technical and manufacturer driven presentations, while the Light Space was more lighting design focussed. John Bullock and Ray Molony did a great job in master ceremony-ing the speaker presentations and panel discussions which followed each other one after another in rapid fire without breaks. From the feedback it seems that participating manufacturers (sponsors) were happy as they had high quality and focussed access to lighting designers and local authorities and organisations visiting to the event. Despite some little hick-ups depriving some quality speakers from presenting their papers as they had not received their government clearance, the overall quality of the presentations was of high standing. With, amongst others, established names such as Paul Nulty, Sally Storey, Courtney Mark, Regina Santos, Martin Valentine, Zeki Kadirbeyoglu, Michael Grubb and Amir el Sobky, sharing their expertise on stage there was plenty to choose from. Well done to all.
My presentation, “The 10 things I would have loved to have known before I started to use LED lighting”, was a jam-packed overview (we were only given 30 min presentation slots to keep the action high paced) of the typical and real life lighting application issues that have plagued us (and at times still are!) since LED became main stream in lighting design, including dimming and color quality issues. The presentations were interlaced with panel discussions on relevant topics meant to involve and allow the audience to participate. Later on after my presentation I joined Sally Storey, Courtney Mark and Mark Vowles in a lively discussion about trends in hospitality lighting. I find it always enriching when experts in the field combine to share their experiences. Though not scheduled I was asked to join in on two more panel discussions. One on “What clients need to know about lighting designers” (a slam-dunk opportunity to promote our profession!) with Paul Nulty and Amir el Sobky and moderated by John Bullock. The other with the heading: “What they don’t tell you about LED’s” about the issues, challenges and opportunities in the LED lighting market with fellow panelists Ray Molony, Gordon Routledge and Neil Salt a specialist in lighting control technologies. Both panel discussions offered great depth and insight and it was an honor to be asked to participate and contribute. As a sign of the times reactions and comments were tweeted and retweeted live on social media as the event progressed during the two days…
The event ended with the Lux Awards Middle East 2016, the inaugural awards in celebration and reward for project excellence in the Middle East region. I don’t want to comment too much on the awards as it was not really clear on what judging criteria some of the awards were based, but what struck me is the very few lighting designers that received an award in comparison with manufacturers and local organisations. I understand the awards are open to anyone but in celebration and nurturing of the lighting design profession I would have loved to see more actual lighting designers in the shortlists. But that is just a small personal comment. There was no doubt though that the award as Lux person of the year being conferred to Martin Valentine for his outstanding work in Abu Dhabi was unanimously cheered! Well done to all, the award winners, the key note speakers, the panelists, the sponsors and last but not least the organisers. Thanks for having me.
Have a great weekend.
Singapore – Shanghai – Hangzhou – Anji – Singapore, Weekend 9-10 April 2016
What was initially planned to be a “quiet” week in the office turned out to be only 2 days with the rest travelling and anything but quiet and peaceful. A rescue 101 mission had to be urgently undertaken to the inlands of China where one of our projects, a resort deep into the Anji hinterland in the middle of bamboo forests, is now planning to open in the first week of May. The unfortunate thing is, as with so many projects in China and Asia around, that panic only strikes when opening date nears. The dates where seemingly decided just last month (about time though…) and now all issues highlighted and already previously apparent but not actioned on become an “emergency”. People previously not really involved, but concerned with future operation of the property are seeing these issues, but not knowing the history and inaction and incapability of the site contractor only see that as “poor design”. We had indicated the desired plan of action to remedy unapproved light fittings, wrong installation and poor workmanship about a year ago, but the client had shown little to no commitment to action. Now that time presses and operators are moving in it suddenly becomes urgent. I think we have all been there and rather than blame them (which is generally a useless exercise anyhow) I felt it better to use the momentum and their willingness to action and go to site. Rather then write my blog yesterday spent most of the day writing my site visit report so that there is no excuse and action can start right away on Monday. We will be on site weekly till opening to help and assist them as good as possible.
The client’s prerogative
The interesting thing is that their “reluctance” to action was probably driven by trying to minimise any additional costs for the suggested rectifications (assumingly to minimise any additional costs). They also ignored our light fitting specifications and purchased what was in their eyes good “local” alternatives. Their argument being that these fittings were used a lot in many of the local hotels so they must be ok…we were give some samples for review but were unable to approve any except one or two and had sent our feedback accordingly. They went ahead regardless. Not surprisingly therefore we have poor beam control, inconsistent colour quality (some so-called 2700K being 3800K measured on site with Ra’s of only 70’s!). The dimming system was also purchased and installed without our knowledge probably based on the same reasoning. When confronted with the system we discovered a brand we had never heard off (though that does not necessarily mean it is not good, there are many new players in the market). Further internet research learned that though the website is Chinese (.cn), the introduction claims they are from NSW, Australia, specialists in building management systems. Anyone heard of the brand Hysine? Our on-site testing revealed all the typical hallmarks of a dimming system with little affinity to LED dimming if I may say diplomatically; unable to do time fade dimming, dimming only possible in steps of 10% (!), lowest dimming level about 20% (looks like 50%), sometimes going into auto cut-off and totally unreliable switch responses. We observed several times that activating a scene did not consistently result in the same scene! Note they do not have a scene set control panel, only switches that are “programmed” to be a scene. Anyhow you can see the helpless situation we found ourselves in. Admittedly the quality of the light fittings does not help. Some of the decorative fixtures where discovered to have non-dimmable light bulbs, no wonder, but that can be resolved. But most of all the compatibility testing that we have requested for nearly a year between light fittings and dimming manufacturers was never done. I suspect that the dimming modules and the drivers (leading, trailing edge, etc) are also not really aligned. How long is a piece of string…
Good, cheap or fast
There is this long held adagio that you can only have two out of these three, but most of the clients want all three. If you want it good and cheap it won’t be fast, if you want it good and fast it won’t be cheap, if you want it fast and cheap (what most want) it won’t be good. The irony is that we found ourselves with an installation that is neither good, nor cheap nor fast. I suspect though that the client believes they got a good deal. Our “intelligence sources” however informed us that the prices paid where at least the same as the original if not more expensive! How is that possible you may ask? Simple. The whole purchasing process is played through the appointed installation contractor who not surprisingly will have his own contacts. In order to assure his “preferred” supplier gets awarded, he will price our specifications many times higher, sometimes 300-400% higher! That leaves him to quote the client his alternative at the same or slightly higher price as the originals. A price 150% higher then the original still looks so much cheaper then the one 300% higher, isn’t it! So why did we not do anything about it? Again simply because we were left out of the process, despite insisting that we should be part of it. It is a consistent mystery why many clients think they should keep us out of the evaluation and award process, specifically when it comes to evaluating specific price bids. With the experience we have, we are better placed than anyone to assess whether the price is good value for good and fast! Now we are left with the hot potato with no-one to pass it on too!
Below some mood images from the site and the project (good and bad). It is going to be a nice project and I may be very critical (as I should be), but in the end most of the guests staying at the resort will not notice a thing of all the sweat and tears that went into the project…
Have a great (rest of the) weekend.
Singapore, Weekend 2-3 April 2016
Finally a week back in the office…and what a productive week it was! A number of projects were about to issue full DD stage (2), another thre were being prepared for tender issue, another 2 have reached final site installation and a last one is due for commissioning and handover in 3 weeks for which the necessary preparations are needed. Another two who were on hold due to payment issues that had caused some frustration on both sides , now rekindled after mediation with payment on the way and even additional works on the way. Just another “ordinary” week in our practice. While all that was playing out I doggedly used my free time in between to chip away in finalising my presentation for Lux Live in Abu Dhabi mid April. The interesting thing was the different way each of these stages are being worked and the deliverables expected, due to different contract conditions, varying scope and different client expectations, let ‘s have a closer look:
Design Development stage
Two of our projects, in 2 totally different locations on the planet, are issuing for completed design development this week; one in Oman the other in Tahiti. The contrast could not be bigger. On the first one the client’s project management is keeping a very tight ship in regards to deadlines and is looking over everyone’s shoulder to keep track of progress. As a result each consultant is highly “reclusive” in order to focus on the work at hand with the aim not to be distracted and deliver “a” DD package in time. Since we depend on the input from the interior designer, architect and landscape designer, we are left with basic minimum info most of it issued last minute with communication proving to be difficult, mostly because they just don’t have the time (and are worried we will come up with things to change). Not surprisingly, because of their rush, we found many missing crucial details, non-matching plans and sections and non-updated now obsolete design in the interior and landscape DD packages issued to us. I needed to make a captain’s call on whether to move our DD package with what was issued to us or spend extra time sorting out the missing information against our own looming deadline. I decided to move with what we have but engage the consultants in parallel and see what we can integrate along the way…
The second one has a far lower level of communication and detailing for the simple reason that the foreign consultants (interiors and lighting) are engaged to provide the locally based lead architect consultant with the necessary DD info following which they will issue the final package. So this DD info is more a guideline that a full specification or recommendation. We understand that they will take our info “translate” that in their drawings and source for local equivalents.
The impact and outcomes are different. In the first case we are anxious to issue as close to reality as possible also knowing that we will need to follow up to a successful commissioning ultimately. In the second project we are more relaxed as we submit our package in the knowledge they will take what they feel they need, substitute with local alternatives and follow up themselves. We are unlikely to be involved in the final implementation or commissioning
A critical stage in every project as that is where the pedal meets the metal. That is where the final light fixtures are being selected, reviewed and approved. Hence making sure the base package with our specifications are locked in as good as possible is critical. Three projects, one in Singapore, one in Malaysia and another one in China, again each with their own characteristics. The one is Singapore (a lounge bar renovation) is pushed by a project manager doing his best to steer the project within a pre-estimated time schedule without fully comprehending the inter relationship and dependency of the various disciplines, but still requiring the packages to be complete. Each consultant is capable enough to take care and deliver in their core discipline, but where it runs short in this project is in the core inter-disciplinary areas. In this specific project we need to develop a suspended structure strong enough to span 7 to 9 meters to which standard off the shelf light fixtures are to be integrated. As we are lighting designers we feel it is the structural engineer’s responsibility to come up with the structures specs. The structural engineer does however not want to take any responsibility claiming it is a lighting fixture. The architect somehow stayed on the side line…We decided to spec as we felt was related to the lighting leaving the structure’s engineering and the finishes to the respective consultant’s. It is interesting to see that when it comes to “grey” areas some people do not step up to the plate…afraid of what? The project in Malaysia somehow sneaked straight from concept into tender stage, likely due to it’s complex nature (high end casino and mall) and quick fire completion target. The whole project is done from inside a fast running train with no stations until the end destination! Changes and adaptations are done on the fly…not surprisingly we find ourselves suddenly in tender mode. Our hotel project in China is following a more regular and normal path with all the necessary breaks and coordination along the way, all measured and controlled. The big question will be whether we will be able to hold specs…the ever occurring challenge in nearly every project.
Two projects are in commissioning stage, one golf resort in Malaysia, one hotel resort in China, both with their own little issues. My team went up their this week only to find that contractors work was not really completed, despite assurances it would, while some of the work could be completed, a second run will be needed before the end of the month, keeping the contractor in line and on track in the meantime. Our China project is a bit more harrowing as the opening date (end of April) has been officially marketed with room and events booked so there is no escaping. The coordination and consultation between site team and consultants has been rather left wanting, mostly due to the client not having appointed a real project manager and leaving architect and contractor sorting things out, each of course having their own agenda’s. Not surprisingly the feedback of the onsite condition (specifically the seemingly non-compliance between LED lights and dimmer system) is reaching panic state. Our recommendations and directions have been generally ignored so it sort of stings if the client feel you are responsible for it. Anyhow preparations were made this week to go out there and since the contractor has shown a habit of not following up the client agreed for my team to remain on site till completion as to make sure there are no excuses…All in all a bit of a pressure cooker week which showed again how important a professional and experienced project manager is to bring a project to a good end.
Banking in the new world?
As we live in a new world with continuous terrorist threats around the world, government scrutiny on the activity of every day’s man is also becoming more apparent. Yesterday I received a call from our banker questioning an inbound payment (just an ordinary fee progress payment) to our account. The amount being less then $10K I was surprised by the call, the first of its kind. We have been called before to confirm incoming or outgoing transactions but never to clarify the nature of the transaction! Perhaps the project and payment origin which is from Salalah in the South of Oman has something to do with it? Besides coming from the Middle East, Salalah is just North of the Yemen border…what bugged me most was that the questioning was camouflaged under the banner of the bank wanting to know their customers better…after banking with them for more then 15 years, they still don’t know us??? Describing the nature of your business is part of the bank application form! I can only deduce they are investigating any transactions that may potentially be linked to terrorism…don’t trust anyone, even long term customers! Where is this world going to…
Have a great weekend.
Singapore – Frankfurt -Europe, Weekend 19-20 March 2016
“The L&B 2016 Chronicles”…
It is probably fair to say that all who visited L&B in Frankfurt this past week find themselves in the same state of physical and mental exhaustion this weekend. The adrenaline of excitement both from seeing the latest product developments as well as catching up with our friends in the industry in combination with booth and dinner parties takes a considerable toll…but it is a very satisfactory one as I look back with great pleasure and memories of yet another successful edition of L&B where I caught up with so many people and found yet again much inspiration to carry me forward in the year ahead. It was a special edition for me as I multitasked my attendance between my own KLD lighting design team and a delegation of the Chinese Lighting Designers Association for which I am an international advisor.
Below I have listed my impressions from L&B 2016 which I have tried to group together in various topics (in no particular order):
Miniaturisation. There is no doubt that the lighting industry has (finally) taken a big step towards miniaturisation of lighting. While it was always expected as a result of the compact nature of LED technology, heat issues had prevented real developments till now, but it seems that we have arrived at a point where the lighting can be really miniaturised to a level that starts to defy our imagination. Many companies like IGuzzini, Flos, Aldabra, Alto, ACDC, XAL. Delta, Zumtobel, amongst others have succeeded in developing mini down lights and spots with quite an incredible light output. With fixture diameters of less than 25mm it is now really becoming a main direction forward. But the winner of all this miniaturisation for me was Viabizzuno who showed of their super mini spot light, not much bigger than your little pinkie. I love this trendy development as I am all for not seeing the light fixture…add trim-less into the equation and you can see where this is heading!
Optics. This is probably the next big thing in lighting world. Most companies have made huge steps forward in improving their optical system. With LED chip technology mostly being on even footing for all manufacturers differences are made with the sophistication of the optics. Prolicht secured the services of a former Bartenbach optics engineer and the results are there for all to see, great fixtures with great optical performances. Not surprisingly these are achieved through greatly improved reflector technologies. Several companies showed this off. On the other side there are a number of manufacturers that have improved their performances through lens technologies (Zumtobel and many others). Clever lens configurations contribute to a far more efficient light distribution with far better optical (glare) control…quite impressive.
Novelties and new concepts. As always L&B is a platform to show off (or test) new ideas, and this year was no different. A new concept is not always that easy and obvious to spot as it is not a mainstream display and is often shown only as a low key demonstration (to assess general feedback). Though not fully a novelty FLOS motorised track spot was still a very intriguing and exciting concept. Not only is the spot remotely controllable with pan and tilt angles the added linear movement along the track adds a totally new dimension to remote controlled lighting. Slated for release later this year it is bound to find many applications! FLOS’ suspended linear ceiling concept also offers many exciting opportunities for the lighting designers. Aldabra showed of their “Mikado” based linear system concept, which allows you to criss-cross connect linear lights to each other without the visual pollution of visible power cables. Artemide had a concept spot that integrates ambient white and/or RGB with a dedicated directional spot light, interesting but probably with limited application opportunities. Also seen at the Artemide booth and some others is the polarisation of glass from being either see through or illuminated. Though shown only as a pendant and wall fixture I could see great potential where daylight could be integrated as part of the lighting design concept. This of course is the sole and unique feature of Coelux a concept that was launched at PLDC in Copenhagen and never stops to amaze. The daylight qualities achieved through the artificial skylight are amazing. Motoko Ishi was back with Sumito Chemichal showing a colourful and arty display of OLEDs.
Technology There are the leaders, the innovators and then there are the followers. It was blatantly obvious that some successful concepts introduced over the last few years were being copied and accepted now as “mainstream” lighting products. IGuzzini’s Laser Blade has found many a following in various configurations and also RCL’s remote controlled lighting now have a steady number of followers with Forma lighting ( their Motolux series) probably leading the pack. Soora, with the eminent presence of Nobel Laureate Mr Nakamura on the stand (who kindly signed his book for me, and got mine in return J) launched their violet based LED lights. Having won the Nobel prize for his invention of “blue based” LED technology, Soora is now moving on from blue to violet based LED, showing the limitations of blue LED’s. While the demonstration on the stand of Soora’s violet based lighting versus the rest (blue based) was visually convincing, it was not possible to verify the authenticity of the “others”. There is no doubt that the quality of retrofit lamps has increased. Osram, Philips, Megaman and others are still full swing at developing alternative LED technology for conventional lamps. There is surely still quite a big market for it and with “filament” based LED lights there are some new opportunities for the lighting designer.
Systems and components Viabizzuno, Prolicht and Xicato were typical examples of manufacturers thinking about lighting as a toolkit. Providing an array of lighting components and systems it allows the lighting designer to build his own design. I had an really enjoyable session with Mario Nani, Viabizzuno’s creative mind and also my session with Roger and Webster from Xicato was exciting and inspirational. As lighting designers we crave the tools to design uniquely tailored solutions and I think that these manufacturers understand that and are moving into a modular system and components direction that I find very attractive and exciting. Carl Devolder delighted me with Prolicht’s latest range of modular toolkit systems. I was happy to oblige him with one of my books
Linear In the linear field we saw many interesting developments, specifically in creating tailor made lengths (or surfaces) and the continuous in line seamless connections. Companies like LED –Linear and Cooledge showed off some really nice products all who can be made to measure according to need. Big improvements have been made by many of the manufacturers in regards to inline connections, flush and seamless in-ground mounting and the high demand applications like underwater and drive-over versions. Light-Tape remains an odd one out with their flexible sheet and wrap around lighting solution but their performance has certainly improved and the demand, though very niche, has remained steady over the years.
Performance Not surprisingly the lighting performance is still skyrocketing forward. Linear T5 equivalents with 150 lumens/watt and floodlights (300W) with more than 50,000 lumens output where on displays on many booths. It is fair to say that we are closing in on the stage where we can say that for any conventional lighting technology there is now a matching or better performing LED equivalent in terms of performance. It seems just yesterday that LED announced its breakthrough in white light and look where we are already today! Specifically in the outdoor field a great improvement in performance and lighting optics has been achieved.
Outdoor applications Besides greatly improved urban lighting concepts, many with smart or solar lighting integrated, the creative ability of the outdoor lights has also greatly expanded. Focusable spot lights, toolkit floodlights with a range of handy accessories and glare free interchangeable optics are just a few of the exciting new developments. Luce & Light’s ARKO system is a great example of that. Most of all the maintenance of IP rated light fixtures has been a point of development by several manufacturers. Sealing the main core light engine to desired IP rated levels has always been a challenge when beam adjustments and cable connections are still to be done on site. Now many of the manufacturers have come out with externally adjustable beams and aiming as well as “idiot-proof” connectors to assure the integrity of the IP rating is maintained through life! WEEF and Meyer had some fine examples.
Tuneable light and controls Under this heading I am capturing the enormous progress made in the field of lighting controls and the ability to tune and dim the light. Just because we can today, nearly all manufacturers have products that have tuneable white light, not just as an option but as a standard product. With colour temperatures ranging from 1800 to 6500K there are an array of possibilities now to tune the light to desired ambiences and that over time. Eldoled is one of the recognised leaders in driver technology and at L&B they showed the world why. Potential flicker has been one of the key issues on the “to be resolved” list and companies like Eldoled and Xicato have put in a lot of effort to make sure this is a problem of the past.
The future of lighting On the side lines of the fair there where a lot of talks and presentations, some on booths of leading manufacturers (Lamp, Xicato) and some in meeting rooms (IALD etc.). I personally attended Xicato’s “Future of lighting” which gave an interesting insight on where we are going. The future role of lighting with integrated functions such as far more sophisticated lighting controls, way finding, IoT, asset tracking and Light as a Service where all part of the presentation, set against the cost of lighting and its management. It is very much the end of light as we know it…very true!
Virtual Lighting Design Even the role of a lighting designer looks like being reduced to a mere operator of a computer program. I would dare to say that the progress in technology and the progress in internet virtually is also starting to ring the death bells for the actual manual skills and experience of a lighting designer. Virtual computer programs takes all the thinking out of the designer. Everything is visualised and design decisions made for you…where are the lighting designers who still do manual calculations or use a pen and paper to design lighting…all these programs are beautiful but there is no check and counter balance. If the computer is wrong (that it is possible!) or makes wrong “decisions” (the output is as good as the operators input!) the new generation of virtual designers will have no fall back for due diligence as they will only know how to operate the program of lighting app…We need to keep training our new generation of lighting designers in the actual art of design with all these beautiful aps and programs an aid or tool rather than the “bible” of lighting design!
KLD at L&B, Luminale. Finally some images of me and my great KLD team enjoying the L&B fair in Frankfurt this week, our factory visit and some mood imagery from Frankfurt, booth party impressions (Erco, Osram, IGuzzini) , the IGuzzini light experience and the Luminale. It was a pleasure to see all my good friends and colleagues during my visit and I hope to see you all soon somewhere on the planet! Take care and till then.
PS 1: this weeks blog turned out to be a monster report and even at the end I realise I missed out on many things, still…feel free to add in through comments and feedbacks!
PS 2: Next week there won’t be a blog as I am taking a week off to re-energise here in Europe.
Singapore – Kuala Lumpur – Singapore, Weekend 12-13 March 2016
Pre-Light & Build hassles
As I write this week’s blog I am already half with my mind in Frankfurt with my flight just hours away. The world’s biggest lighting exhibition, Light & Build in Frankfurt, a bi-annual event, is again upon us and I look forward with a great measure of excitement as this time I am not just there by myself but bring my key design team with me as well as assisting a delegation of the Chinese Lighting Designers Association in their visit to the fair. I have a hectic schedule with meetings, events and VIP dinners planned with manufacturers and key players in the industry that will leave me little time to breathe…As always the last few days before the trip there are heaps of last minute project issues to resolve and these last few days were no different. I even managed to squeeze out another trip to KL on which I report below. As often the case with a small practice like ours, making sure the “cash keeps flowing” is key to survival and a lot of my activities this week was linked to making sure we rounded up stages of work for signing off to client satisfaction. Sometimes it means that you need to soften your stance, deviate from your hard line of not issuing work if prior invoices have not been settled. The world unfortunately is not that black and white and my task as the principal is to make captain’s calls about progressing work for the long term benefit of the company, rather than for short term (egoistic) gains. My patience and weighted approach this week in regards to some “slow paying” clients finally paid off and I can leave for Frankfurt with peace of mind.
My trip to Malaysia was another typical example of a “rescue” mission that we sometimes have to carry out, not only to satisfy the client and get our payment released but also to clear our name which often gets a hiding in the process, as suppliers and contractors are quick to blame the lighting designer if it all looks like a dogs breakfast. They of course did nothing wrong, they “just followed the designer’s instructions”…These are in my opinion the moments where you learn the trade, where you become hardened in your design experience and confidence of your design skills. Even after all these years, it still amazes me, to how much length people (the supplier/contractor in this case) go to blame others (us) for the poorly performing lighting installation, while in reality poor workmanship, taking shortcuts or clearly cheating are at the origin of the poor installation. It reflects bad on everybody, us as the designers (“did you specify that???”), the light fitting manufacturers (“what a poor quality!!!”) or even the project manager or client.
I am talking about the façade lighting of IB Tower in KL a Norman Foster designed building and I am not ashamed to name the project and associate myself with it. The interiors have been completed and look stunning, however the façade lighting has been a long and frustrating road for all parties involved, I assume the contractor included. I am not privy to whether the contractor was properly paid so I cannot comment whether they had a just case to delay and hold back services for that reason, but what I do know is that none of their staff that ever came to site to do the façade and exterior lighting installation works was of any impressive level of competence, on the contrary. None demonstrated any form of expertise nor understanding of the magnitude of the task at hand, which for a 300m high tower with about 150 floodlights to be installed, would be expected. It is easy to say that in hindsight but far more difficult to detect during the process as the end result can often only be seen towards the end.
My mission this trip was to assess the current façade lighting installation, report my findings on the compliance to our specifications and show the client that the installed floodlights could, with proper care, aiming and focussing, indeed achieve the design intent as shown in our renderings. You may argue why we had not done that before, to which I have to reply that we did on many occasions but excuses and a myriad of other deflective reasons (including claimed non-support from the manufacturer) had frustratingly delayed the final testing and commissioning that we had been asking for so long. For this purpose we selected a representative area close to the ground to execute the sample testing and not surprisingly we managed fairly easily to create the required lighting effects. We duly took before and after pictures which I collated in my report to the client. I was never in doubt that we could achieve it as we had done extensive computer simulations as well as a visual mock-up which all confirmed it could be done. But when after so many months (year!) it still does not come out well, even your strongest supporters’ start doubting you!
What we learned…
We learned many things from this exercise on multiple fronts. In regards to the design; when you design a façade lighting with super narrow 4 degree beams, the slightest degree off results in the lighting effect not being achieved. This holds for both the pan and tilt angles. In this case the bracket holding the floodlight was anchored straight on to the concrete below the façade panel cladding and while we had assumed it was fixed at right angles the reality was that practically none of them are because of the uneven concrete finish. In other words giving the contractor pan and tilt angles as per computer calculations did not work as some of the brackets we found on inspection were up to 5 degrees off in either pan or tilt direction!!! No wonder that the installed floodlights are looking a like a dogs breakfast. This is where experienced installation contractors would have flagged the issue as they would not have stupidly continued aiming floodlights that were clearly not doing their job, but these guys did…but this was just one of the problems. By far the biggest issues we had on the actual workmanship and installation quality. As the floodlights are dimmable they each have an address protocol (2 actually in our case), during the installation process we had found that many of the floodlights had wrong addresses, resulting in a hotch-potch of lighting outputs, with some floodlights clearly brighter than others…oh, they claimed something wrong with the fitting…hello, can someone knock on their brains? With further poor and wrong cabling and connections (some even not connected!) you get the picture of what we have been dealing with.
The main issue was that each time we went to site to explain what needed to be done and shown them how to do it, the moment we left site it seemed like their commitment and understanding “left” as well. We have now recommended the client to terminate this contractor and have spelled out a detailed plan to remedy and finalise the façade lighting properly which will probably see us on site for a week to painstakingly aim and focus each and every floodlight one by one. The client should have made this decision long ago but I guess they hoped that with outstanding money owed to the contractor as leverage they would turn around and perform. There is obviously a limit to how much juice you can squeeze out of an orange…
I did not even mention about the Chinese replacement copies we found in some parts of the exterior lighting but that is another story… J
Have a great week-end and for some of you, see you in Frankfurt!