Singapore 19th June 2013
It is undeniable that within the next 5 years conventional lighting will be obliterated into nothingness and if by today you have not yet made the transition to Led as a lighting manufacturer you are unlikely to still be in business by then. It is a bit like when Bill Gates said (I believe it was him) at the start of the internet revolution that if as a business you were not on the internet (with a website for instance) you would not be in business 5 years down the road. I think that came out as a pretty correct prediction. A similar one can be made for LED lighting technology…a safe bet
In a way new start-ups into LED manufacturing (and believe me they seem to come out of the woodwork and not necessarily out of the lighting industry!) have some sort of an advantage as they are not burdened by any past. Those with semiconductor knowledge associated with LED need to learn the lighting application ropes, but can basically start from scratch with a clean slate. It is not surprising that some of the now leading LED companies were not even known before in any form in the conventional lighting world. It is the conventional lighting companies that have the greatest challenges it appears as they are dealing with massive prior investments in moulds and components for their conventional systems. It is not surprising therefore that their first step towards a transition into LED land would be with retro fit LED lamps. However many now realise that the real transition will only be successful in the long run with full system LED technology.
This basically means that all prior investments have to be made all over again and probably more on top; moreover, all previous knowledge may not be applicable anymore! So for the traditional manufacturers this transition can be very tough…we all know how difficult it is to get rid of old habits! So in this transition to the new age of LED it is very likely that some (possibly a lot) of the conventional lighting manufacturers may not be able to make it…
Light Watch 4-109: I leave you to ponder on this with one very illustrative image, open for many interpretations
(sorry, no offence intended…)
Singapore 18th June 2013
After a day of relative little excitement, also known as a fairly routine lighting design work day (but NOT a groundhog day :) ) at the office, it was time tonight to mingle with the Singapore lighting industry for the launch of one of the newer brands in town: Modulex. Risen from the Ushio ashes and grown into a full fletched brand under the patronage of Osram. Not surprisingly most, if not all, are LED driven lighting systems. The company has gradually made its advances into our project market over the last year, visiting us a few times and leaving us to play with a few of their samples. You know when a company is confident about the quality of their lighting products…they happily leave you to play and explore with it. Well researched and developed products and vetted by the reliability of the Osram brand. Having the endorsement and support of a world brand like Osram definitely helps to overcome any doubts you may have on initial recognition of the brand. But time will tell. Only once we have completed a project from start (specification) to finish (installation and handover) will we know how credible the products (and the company!) are!! As always it is not only the product but also the people behind…
For the introduction to the greater public (I believe they had the local media on call) they pulled all stops with a product application showroom, a display space and a bar/social area to meet and greet people in a more relaxed area. As a result the party stretched along the street as the 3 spaces where in 3 different units along the street. Crowd control and security was at hand to manoeuvre the local traffic safely along the socialising/ networking crowd. Always good to catch up with colleagues and friends in the business. Though you would think a Tuesday night is not necessarily your most ideal night for a launch party it was really well attended…
Light Watch 4-108: Some (Iphone) mood images from the night….
Singapore 17th June 2013
We live in an age where pollution, certainly in the big multi million people cities, is becoming a way of life rather than the exception. Today in Singapore we were hit by extreme haze that blows over from uncontrolled forest burn downs in Indonesia. With a PSI (pollution standard index) reaching way into the unhealthy levels; it had been going on the last few days but today we hit well over the 110 PSI. I cannot do much about this pollution (I already don’t drive a car in Singapore) but I can certainly contribute by minimising light pollution. Light pollution is really wasting light by having light going to unintended or useless places. Unfortunately many who call themselves lighting designers, don’t seem to either care or understand the issue of light pollution. And I am not just talking about light that is “lost” in space by uncontrolled optical systems, but even with “properly” directed light still having massive amounts of sideways spill light that cannot be classified as useful light.
I have to say that again manufacturers and sales people are partly to blame. They sell these (generally very cheap) light fittings that blasts light uncontrolled in all directions. Generally small little down lights without any optics (easily identified by their glary appearance) creates lots of wasted light. Most of the time it is pure ignorance from sales people, as I would expect that some manufacturers at least have some form of optical knowledge. But then do they care? I would say probably not otherwise why would you put these lights on the market??? The answer is probably money…
But we as lighting designers are equally responsible and hence to blame if we do not stringently apply our knowledge and understanding of lighting and lighting optics to make sure we select the right system that allows us to manipulate and control the light output to exactly where we want it. Budget restraints may pose serious challenges but then that when we need to pull out all stops to educate our client on the ill effects of light pollution! That’s why we are professional consultants…it comes with responsibilities!
Light Watch 4-107: Light pollution…see how much uncontrolled light creates pollution and affects the night sky…
Singapore 14th June 2013
Wikipedia tells me that traditionally an “agent provocateur” is an agent employed by the police or other government entity to act under cover to entice or provoke another person to commit an illegal act or to falsely implicate them to partake in an illegal act. Now this feels very much like my LED Cowboys! I am talking here about agents that represent certain lighting brands in the market. Manufacturers generally do not sell direct and use agent(s) in cities, countries or regions (depending on the geographic or cultural divide) to sell and distribute their lighting products. These agents generally take on certain sales targets when they sign on and commit to certain sales, stock and showroom facilities. Depending their success and relationship this can result in a very longstanding or a very short marriage. I know agents who have been the representative for ever and I know some who seem to change brands with the change of winds. Then there is the issue of sole distributor/ agency versus multiple agencies. In the first case of course life is simple, you know who to talk to. In the case of non-exclusive agencies there is an extra dimension where the agencies may fight amongst themselves to land the sale for a project. Different manufacturers have different strategies.
I bring this up as over the last few months we had several “agents” pop up out of the woodwork claiming (possibly truthfully) they are the agent for a new brand that has gradually been introduced to us over the last year or so. The thing with multiple agencies is that they don’t really let you know that there are others you can specify or buy from. They introduce themselves as being THE agent for that brand. Some go as far as saying they are the exclusive agent, some do say that they are not exclusive, but sort of the principal one and that others are more on a project to project basis….Anyhow, my point is that it is a ruthless (sales) world out there and that some of these agents really push the boundary as an agent (”provocateur”) to get you committed to work with them…
Light Watch 4-106: Lighting technology is still in the midst of a revolution, not only LED! Nano and molecule technology will allow to create light sources so small you can’t see them if they are not on! Tough sales for an agent! See below subsequently
1) nano lighting technology
2) a glowing molecule
3) nano scale laser technology…
4) mini light source
Singapore 13th June 2013
You can pick out clients and consultants who are streetwise. You can see it from a mile (assuming you are streetwise too J), just the way they deal with issues, with challenges. In my more than 30 years in the business I like to believe that I have become rather street smart and know my way around. Being streetwise also means that you know how the game is played and you know the challenges and hurdles that may be ahead on the path of first negotiating a project contract and then successfully negotiating the “elements” along the way to a successful completion of the project.
Over the last few weeks we have signed on a couple of new projects (I think we are lucky in this part of the world despite the state of the world economy!) and each of them I found to have very street smart and with that very professional clients. Our (new) clients seem experienced and knowing of the game with quick turnarounds for contract negotiations and most of all signing of the contract and settling the appointment fees. If you are a professional it is great to work with professionals….It makes it easier to deal with issues along the way. A quick assessment of a situation can be made and with the combines experience a satisfying solution found.
But I found not all project team members to be street smart. There are always obstacles and unforeseen situations along the road, but most of the time they are created by incompetence or plainly obvious greed (suppliers/ contractors) and self-serving interests (managers). I have had to deal with a few of these the last few days; contractors taking short cuts by purchasing their own interpretation of our specifications, a procurement manager making a deal with a lighting supplier of what we regard as insufficiently performing fittings and a QS who put together a budget that is not in line with the needs of the project. Just to name a few…but with some smart and streetwise actions you can get this back in shape, but it takes some understanding to get there as you have to make sure everybody comes out a winner! Another day at work….
Light Watch 4-105: Following on from yesterday here are some more office lighting impressions from around the world…
Singapore 12th June 2013
What is the most conducive work environment? I guess we all know the extremes from workers locked up in a factory with only one exit (we have seen what happened in Bangladesh and China recently) to the Google-esque work environments where you determine yourself how much time you spent in the office…provide works get done. The type of work naturally is of great influence and I am of course reflecting on the work environment related to our profession of being a lighting designer, a creative type of work. I have always been a great promoter of a balanced private and work life, in other words making sure that family life is in balance with work life. Work should not be a “prison” where your every move is watched and controlled and every minute has to be accounted for. Even in our lighting industry there are such bosses…they don’t trust their staff, they are paranoid about control…I know of and have worked with such people…it is not a relaxed environment and you definitely don’t get the best out of your staff, let alone yourself as you are consumed by trying to control and manage your staff. But the point is, if you don’t trust (and respect) your staff how do you want them to trust (and respect) you? Of course trust/respect has to be earned, both ways, agreed, but you can monitor and build in check points in terms of deliverables and performance along the way. You don’t need to monitor all email traffic; install cctv camera’s (no kidding I know companies who do that to monitor their staff!); ban all internet chats or access and restrict work responsibilities. Responsible staff will not abuse the system, on the contrary, you will find them great partners in building and growing your company. At least in the relatively small company set up that we have as lighting designers…Staff who take shortcuts, are found out soon enough, staff who put in the extra mile without you asking are the confirmation that you are doing things right and my personal experience is that you achieve that by giving them your trust from the outset. On top of that you will find that the ambitious ones will profile themselves automatically and those who are just happy to work with you deliver above expectation. At least that is my experience…
Light Watch 4-104: Here are some Google offices from around the world…lighting and interior ambiance play a big role
Singapore 11th June 2013
Sometimes you wonder whether people actually are really that naïve or they really don’t understand the process of design. I am talking about a project architect who expects us to deliver a design without him providing us with any details. We are looking at fast tracking an outdoor lighting design simply based on some conceptual plan approach by the architect. Really basic with some everyday mood images (the kind you see in practically every presentation) and some super conventional light fitting pictures. Overall if you look at it you can’t make out front from end to put it bluntly. It looks like something put together on a Sunday afternoon. I am harsh, but then the same guy (now that we are on board as the lighting consultants) asks us if we can come up with our lighting design concept in the next two days…really? Now I can turn around a lighting design in a very, very short time, courtesy of my years of experience, but for that I need some essential basics, like a proper layout plan, typical sections or height indications, material finishes, relevant elevations, etc., all in some readable dimensions and scale; practically no one of that was made available to us. What was made available is rather shocking considering the guy is the lead architect for the building and the site construction is in full swing.
So my conclusion is that either he has the drawings and does not want to provide them (or he has them but does not understand we need them) or he simply has not got around to produce them yet, which considering the progress on site would be really worrying. So what to do? My first action was to sent him an overview (on the only plan we have) of all the sections and details we need. I can tell you that was quite a list considering the size of the area we are to do. However I am not going to sit and wait as one thing that I have learned over my many years in practice is to be pro-active and solution oriented… a positive approach. The blame game generally does not work and only polarises a situation. So I am now sketching solutions that I anticipate will work based on the little information I have in the hope (and knowledge) that it will trigger a positive reaction so we can than actually get on to the lighting concept so needed…
Light Watch 4-103: Creativity with lighting is thinking out of the box…here is a creative installation designed for the Biennale called Arcades by Troika. Simple elements, great results!
Singapore 10th June 2013
We are quite used to clients requests to fast track projects…they always want things yesterday. Unfortunately many do not understand the design process and how one consultants work impacts on the others. As we are generally not the lead consultant, we are somewhere lower down the pecking order, so we can only get started the lead consultants have progressed with their designs. We can put in our lights if there is no building or interior to integrate the lighting in. Yet time schedules have moved beyond the design stages in a few of our projects with the contractors already slogging it away in site. They work on deadlines and penalties if they don’t deliver on time, so they chase and cry foul (of course looking for excuses to get more time). We on the contrary have just been appointed (far too late obviously) to do the lighting design so we are sort of running behind the facts as they say. It seems a recurrent issue in my blogs lately…:)
So we need to find a fine balance between satisfying clients and contractor on one hand and making sure we don’t short cut the design works by compromising the quality of our design work. A very delicate balancing act indeed…As I blog about my daily experiences as a lighting designer, this is definitely one of them today! The thing is; we don’t have not just one client, we have many to satisfy, some of them are recurrent clients, so we have to uphold our reputation with quality deliveries. It takes time to build up a reputation, but it can be destroyed in no time, so you can understand the importance of taking your clients seriously and not dismissing their demands as ridiculous. In all this respect and communication is key. We need to acknowledge the client’s needs, at the same time we have to carefully balance our manpower and resources and (re)assign or add staff to deal with the demands within reason. In our business however these demands are highly seasonal and variable, so staff planning needs careful consideration as well…
Light Watch 4-102: One of the fast ways to move in China and many other parts of the world are the high speed trains. I have taken the Maglev train in Shanghai a few times which propels you up to more than 400km/hour…talking about fast track!
Guilin 7-8th June 2013
One of those places in the world you really want to visit! I am on a short stopover to meet my client for a new project here and as it happens the project is in Yangshuo, the heart of the Guilin mountains, the backdrop and inspirations for most Chinese paintings that show those amazing mountain shapes with often low overhanging clouds or mist…It definitely is on my bucket list! My flight from Haiko was not surprisingly delayed, but still manage to arrive before night fall to enjoy the scenery. Our project is located along the river just outside Yangshuo. At night the surrounding mountains and river form the back ground for a sound and light show that can be viewed along the river banks in Yangshuo. On our site we don’t hear the sound but certainly see the light with one bank of floodlights located just next to our site plot. I counted more than 50 mega floodlights (search light types), which I can only assume are about 5KW or more. Looking back to Yangshuo I can see another 5 of these floodlight banks. Must be quite a spectacle as the scenery stretches a few kilometres around. The show has been created by one of China’s revered movie directors. While I do not have time to go see the show this trip around I certainly hope to do that on one of my future visits…the spoils of our job!
The project is an old sugar factory that has been restored and will be converted into a destination hotel.I would think its location and backdrop is a sure recipe for success. I am excited about the project and its opportunities for lighting. I came at night as I wanted to understand the night time conditions, get a feel for the place and most of all see how this light show that is happening right over the site will impact. Pictures I had seen had worried me but once on site I actually thought it brought some additional excitement. It created some extra sights that I certainly would not have been given the budget to do! Nice; I can’t wait to get my teeth into this project!
Light Watch 4-101: I snapped some images with my mobile last night, here are some impressions…
Hainan 6th June 2013
Our key task as a lighting designer is to manipulate (artificial) light into lighting effects that either create the mood or the visual performance required or conceptualised for the application. While we have computer rendering programs to visualise our intent, we also take our cues from existing projects (not necessarily ours) or inspiration from daylight effects that occur in and around the site specifically. As our project here is an extension of an existing resort development, there is plenty of daylight inspiration to appreciate. Today specifically was a very sunny (and hot!) day with lots of light and shadow.
Lighting design is not only about what to light but also about what NOT to light; bright and dark, light and shadow, accentuated and diffused lighting. In daytime lighting we are confronted with sharp and harsh contrasts when the sun shines to very soft and diffuse light when the sky is overcast. We accept that as being natural during the day, we can accept a balance manipulation of artificial light in similar ways at night. Lighting design is not simply putting a light bulb in a room to say it crudely, it is about how you package the lamps output and direct it to do what you want. This happens through optical systems, positioning, distance, aiming and manipulating the amount of light, in some occasions also the colour… Amongst all that, the key is understanding the spatial environment, the proportions, the materials, the finishes…light react and interacts with all these in a different way…and don’t forget the psychological effects of the manipulation on the human appreciation!
Light Watch 4-100: Here are some site pictures which will one day on completion show how today’s raw structure will be converted to spaces were day light and manipulated artificial light will create the mood and ambience to remember (hopefully!). To me it is the process from nothing to something that will contribute to a new memory bank of experience. I manipulate lighting for a job…these pictures from site provide inspiration…