Weekend 16-17th December 2017
An eventful week!
It was a real mixed bag of everything this for last week of the working year! We finalised the dates and venue for PLDC 2018, with the Via-Verlag team issuing the call for papers, I had a midweek trip to Hong Kong for a crucial project design meeting, two articles saw the daylight, one my long awaited interview with the now renamed Arc magazine (formerly Mondo Arc) and a feature report on our Lighting Design Agora in Shanghai that was held in September. To top of the week I presented a paper about the future of lighting and lighting design at a networking event for young tech entrepreneurs at District 6 here in Singapore and discussed the same in meeting meetings with Gooee and Philips with an eye on the Big Data revolution and the development of Light as a Service. A busy week for sure. Along the week a steady stream of customary panettone’s and Xmas hampers found our way into our office in appreciation of the collaboration with our business partners in the year gone past.
First an update on PLDC who have now listed me officially on their website as their steering committee member in Singapore: https://pld-c.com/about/steering-committee/
During the week final negotiations went on with Marina Bay Sands to log in the venue and the dates which are now officially confirmed. In the week from 23rd to 28th October 2018 we have the venue of our choice allowing for bump-in and pre-convention activities 23-25th October with the official 2-day convention scheduled for 26-27th October…mark it in your calendars! It will be a historic event and the venue could not be more iconic and representative of what we want to achieve! With the dates now fixed a call for papers was issued yesterday which can be found in this link: https://pld-c.com/call-for-papers/. The four tracks to choose from for either a presented paper or self-running poster presentation for PLDC 2018 are:
1- IoDT – the Internet of Design Things
2- Hospitality Lighting
3- Experiential Environments
4- Professional Practices issues
The Experience Room, always a crowd favourite, is also available for selection. Sponsors have been alerted and invited to link up with the Asian lighting design community in the a networking exhibition space.
My midweek trip to Hong Kong was for a design presentation to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, an institution in Hong Kong for more than a century surely, where we are involved in the lighting design of some packages of the new to build massive 8 storey club house. I remember Happy Valley from my early Philips days (Philips provide the lighting for the race course at the time) and being invited at the VIP Lounge for dinner and watching the races was a cool conclusion to an otherwise successful day of meetings with the client and project team. I could not resist taking a bet and was stunned that my pick for race 6 won! At nearly 5 to 1 a neat little win (which covered for my losses in the other races 😊)
District 6 and the future
On Thursday night I presented a paper about the future of lighting and lighting design to a group of young tech entrepreneurs here in Singapore who all operated from Singapore’s latest co-working space, District 6 in Odeon Towers. It was their annual year end networking night to which they invited me as the guest speaker of the night.
Purely coincidentally I met with Gooee and Philips the next day in separate meetings to discuss exactly this future, the control of big data using light as a host and the future outlook of light as a service. Both, in my opinion will have tremendous impact on our future (just think of the likes of Uber, AirBnB, Amazon, etc) and understanding the role of the lighting designer and crafting our place within this revolution is one of my key interests at the moment. Gone are the days of individuality, in this new interconnected service world partnerships will be the way to go…
Finally to top of the week, my long-awaited interview with (Mondo) Arc Magazine (issue 101) was published on line. Read the full article here: https://issuu.com/mondiale/docs/arc_101/72
Thanks to Paul James and Robert Such for the article. Knowing how much work goes into distilling a readable feature from all the information and pics provided, I can only appreciate the result. Well done. Coincidentally sister magazine Mondo Arc India, published by Amit Gupta and his team, featured a report on our highly successful Lighting Design Agora event in Shanghai earlier in September. Thanks for the acknowledgement of a lot of blood sweat and tears to get it organised! https://issuu.com/stirmondoarcindia/docs/mondo_arc_india_issue_17_nov_dec201/150
This will probably be the last blog of the year, as we are closing our offices and winding down our activities in the coming week and ready ourselves for a well deserved Xmas holiday.
To all our business relations and friends, thanks for your support this year, have a great Xmas and see you back in what shapes up to be an exciting 2018! All the very best! 😊
Have a great week-end
Weekend 9-10th December 2017
PLDC 2018 in Singapore!
Though I knew last week I was under embargo not to tell, but now that the Via-Verlag team has officially announced their strategy for the next few years I can share this news also via my blog.
It has always been a tradition to announce the next PLDC during the gala dinner that concludes the proceedings of the event, so it came as a bit surprise that no announcement was made during PLDC 2017 in Paris…it got tongs wagging, but I bet that very few people had seen coming that PLDC would move to a yearly event and most of all would move into the world, outside its trusted European home! Not surprisingly the proposed motto for PLDC 2018 is “move it”!
So, Asia, and more specifically Singapore, will be its first stop in 2018. It then returns to Europe in 2019 (for its regular bi-annual main event) to move onto New York in 2020…The event in Singapore is not expected to reach the same level of attendance as in Paris (more than 2000 enthusiasts attended, with more than 50 sponsors!) but it is still anticipated that around 500 people will make the journey to Singapore. Considering that many in this region did not make the journey because of the costs to get to Paris, it is likely to find great interest. In Singapore alone, there are many sizeable professional lighting design practices, who’s staff would be eager to participate. I will certainly support my staff for to attend this unique opportunity.
Steering Committee Member
With my experience in organising lighting events, preparing speaker programs and sponsor support combined with my nearly 30 years active practice in Singapore as a lighting designer, I guess it made sense for the Via Verlag team to approach me to become a steering committee member and help organise the event in Singapore. I am humbled and grateful that they thought of me to help them organise this historic event in Asia and excitingly look forward to make this a great success, setting a bench mark for the future!
Marina Bay Sands
Over the last 2 weeks we have been scouting and discussing possible venues, but there is no doubt that the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel and convention centre would be the place of choice. To be confirmed soon!
Singapore design hub and smart nation
The Singapore government has a long-term strategy to make the garden city a design hub for the region and is very supportive of design related initiatives. Singapore is also the home of many big design practices, architects, interior designers but also property developers, hotel operators and many others. Singapore is also a leading country when it comes to the application of smart technologies. The governments “smart nation” strategy can be found everywhere. New developments are all encouraged to integrate smart technologies. We recently completed a lighting master plan for Punggol, an area north of Changi Airport earmarked for future development with educational, corporate and leisure facilities. The latest smart lighting systems and network systems were included as part of the strategy. Having PLDC 2018 in Singapore with a focus on design, the IoT and smart technologies therefore makes extra sense.
To differentiate the Asian and American legs from its traditional European star event, the program will be downsized from a 3-day to a 2-day event with 2 instead of the usual 4 tracks. The event theme and program are currently being developed with the call for papers expected in the coming week. There are further plans for pre-conference activities involving the government, local associations and relevant bodies with an eye on Singapore’s desire to be the world’s leading smart nation and design hub. The traditional welcome party and gala dinner will surely be part of the proceedings! Singapore does know how to party!
Looking forward to welcome you in magical Singapore!
Have a great week ahead!
Somewhere in Europe…
New York, New York!
Weekend 2-3rd December 2017
End of the year…
We are into the last few weeks of the year and as usual they are pretty hectic as many clients and activities want to round up the year and get ready for 2018. By all accounts next year is shaping up to be a very exciting one. We are at the start of what I am perceiving as a big shake up for the lighting industry.
Light as a Service and the IoT
The two biggest emerging trends that we are noticing right now are Light as a Service and Lighting and the Internet of Things (IoT). The world around us is changing rapidly and will have a direct impact on lour lighting industry and very likely our lighting design profession. First of all, the fact that the world is moving towards a service driven economy with the likes of Uber taxi’s and AirBnB accommodation as example. Uber does not own the taxi’s nor the drivers, they provide the platform for you to get in touch and book affordable transportation. Likewise, AirBnB does not own the accommodation, they provide the platform for you to find suitable accommodation…it’s called a service and happens within the wireless world of the internet. Light as a Service combined with the Internet of Things is potentially a life changing development for lighting designers …where do we fit in, how do we remain relevant in the lighting industry as other “things” are gradually invading our lighting design space? These are questions that we will need to address, questions I present to my audience when I talk about the future of lighting design and to which I do not yet have a good answer.
The biggest question in my opinion is how do we keep lighting design profession relevant and objective in a service driven industry, who should be the provider of the services and where is the lighting designer in this structure? Lighting manufacturers like Philips are positioning themselves as the go-to company to provide these services. They have already set up Philips Capital to allow them to finance the lighting installation (as the idea of Light as a Service is that the client/ end user has zero capital investment, other than a monthly “usage fee”) and are reportedly in advanced discussions with Amazon as the service provision platform. While Philips has indicated to me that they will still use lighting designers to determine where and what lighting to propose, I see a major issue with the approach…a client would get the best Philips approach, not necessarily the best lighting solution!
With the internet of things moving up the hierarchy of importance, data collection, control and management is quickly becoming the number one priority. In other words, new buildings (or even renovations) will now first need to decide what kind of data infrastructure they will need for their building! Therefore, the question of who will design the lighting infra structure is moving further down the line! If data providers start to dictate the location of the lighting points and even what kind of lighting fixture, lighting designers will quickly become irrelevant!
But wait! This does not need to be the case…One of the fastest rising stars in this service providing lighting industries is GOOEE, in my opinion the GOOGLE of lighting (I think they may even have chosen the name for this reason…). Using the cloud and anything wireless, the GOOEE platform offers the most elaborate data infra structure that not only includes room and usage data collection, but also all relevant lighting data measurement, control and management. It is an open platform (contrary to what specific lighting manufacturers are offering) that allows any luminaire and any control protocol (DALI/ DMX/0-10V/etc.) to be used.
This sounds really good, and most of all it would provide the necessary opportunity to include the lighting designer as the gate keeper and watchdog to assure compliance to lighting standards and but most of all to provide that independent and professional lighting design advise! In my opinion therefore GOOEE is the ideal platform and company to provide Light as a Service, since it is an open platform, will allow us to connect to the internet of things as they use light-as-a-host and most of all provide our clients with the best possible professional data and lighting solution.
See for more info: www.gooee.com
Have a great weekend
Weekend 25-26th November 2017
PLDC – Paris 2017
Over the years I have attended all PLDC events, London, Berlin, Madrid, Copenhagen, Rome so I was really looking forward to attending this year’s edition in Paris, in what I consider my second home town! It was not to be for the sad reasons you know. This year however I had my senior designers to join me for this experience and being there first time attending this event, I thought it would be nice to let them report back on their experience attending PLDC.
This is my 1st time joining a PLDC event that allowed me to broaden my knowledge and open my view. The convention started with an official opening party where we had the opportunity to meet with people from different backgrounds such as lighting designers, manufacturers and suppliers from different parts of the world. Subsequently Joachim Ritter, the Convention Chair, addressed the crowd with his welcome address. As this was my first PLDC, I really looked forward to the next 3 days.
The program started with a keynote speaker for each half day session with a speech traditionally being a view on lighting from a non-lighting design perspective, I attended all of them. Among all the keynote speakers, I personally found the presentation from Kathryn Gustafson, UK, the most interesting topic. Kathryn is renowned for creating distinctive sculpture landscapes which engage at a fundamental human level. During her speech she shared her experiences and problems that she faced during her works. One of the key issues was that of minimum lighting level requirements for plants to survive in areas that do not have any exposure to sun or natural daylight at all. She pointed out that plants that grow in European countries require different minimum lighting levels than those in tropical countries like Singapore. However, these lighting level requirements remain unknown to her and no one could advise her on this issue.
The program then continued with presentations from different lighting experts. It was impossible to attend all these presentations that were divided in different categories, as they were held at the same time in different rooms. These categories were: Urban Life, Professional Practice Issues, Lighting Application/ Case Studies, Philosophy & Debate, The Challenge & Research. Each of these categories had interesting subjects. The most interesting topic to me was “Living in the colours of the colour-blind” by Zhuofei Ren. She might not be the best speaker at the convention, however her study was one of the most interesting subjects. People with defective colour vision have difficulty differentiate colours. Having a colour deficiency can greatly impact our ability to function on a daily basis. The purpose of her research was to comprehend the impact of light on persons with defective visual systems, explore lighting solution that enabled colour deficient individuals to perceive the coloured objects with more distinction. She had done many experiments comparing different lighting properties such as spectral power distribution, lighting levels, colour temperatures of light. By controlling the light reaching the human eye, she found out it was possible to help colour blind persons to distinguish between different coloured objects. She stated that with dedicated design strategies, there is indeed an opportunity for lighting professionals to provide persons with defective colour vision more perceivable colour experiences. Well said. I hope she will continue doing researches on this topic and bring more good news to people with defective colour vision.
I enjoyed being able to attend this year PLDC and hope there will opportunities in future.
This is my first time attending PLDC in my nearly 10 years of being a lighting designer. One of the reasons I have remained in this industry is because I feel that there is still so much I can learn about lighting and light remains such fascinating subject to me. This was being reinforced at the conference, with so much more to learn about lighting and its relationship and effects to human beings. As I never had the opportunity to be formally trained in lighting design at an institution, I find every opportunity to learn about the lighting design industry to be very exciting and interesting.
I had the opportunity to attend previous two Light+Building Fairs in Frankfurt, which had been great opportunities learn about the latest lighting technologies available to professional lighting designers, while listening to the excitements of the lighting manufacturers explaining their latest innovations.
The PLDC conference is a rather different event, being mostly focused on lectures sharing expert knowledge by fellow lighting designers. I find that we have so much to learn from each other and yet there are not many platforms to share and learn. PLDC is a very good platform so I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I get to hear how fellow lighting designers share about their projects, passions, ideas, findings but also their concerns about lighting design. Although I would not say all the lectures were impactful or satisfying, I attended a few good ones that were real good mind and eye-openers.
What left me the greatest impressions are the following:
1. People interested about lighting design are wide and varied! I saw a great range of age groups at the convention, from students to grey-haired people, as well as people with all kinds of skin colours!
2. Light is such an important element of life, just as water and air. Artificial lighting is becoming key in city life, yet there is so much more we need to learn about lighting the impact of light on our life. We can never assume we know enough to say we can confidently design with light to regulate human life; light can harm as well!
3. There are many people suffering from the new forms of lighting, enough people to set up an organization to create awareness for it (Light Aware). I can really relate to it since I suffer from several chronic conditions which led me to realize about some of my food intolerances such as wheat, which is such a common item everywhere; yet I can choose the food I eat, while these people cannot choose the light that is being installed everywhere in their environment.
4. Lighting design has become rather complex due to LED and the technology and possibilities that comes along with it. Designing lighting in our increasingly intelligent world with illuminated media cityscapes, requires the participation and collaboration between many experts to achieve a good integrated design. (Artificial) Light is no longer just simply a standalone device to turn on and off!
So what is the work of a lighting designer? I find that it is about education. We need to educate people about the values of light, values of lighting design and doing it right, harms and cost of doing it wrong, just as I continue to seek to be educated about lighting as it continues to evolve.
Being first time going to PLDC and also first time to Paris, I was really excited and looking forward to it. When the Convention started, it made me feel being back in school when we joined various speakers presenting talks about different subject at different timings. In addition to what my colleagues shared, I would like to share one other speaker’s presentation; “Lighting for Cities Inhabited by People, Not Cars – By Malcolm Innes/UK.
Malcolm started his presentation by comparing the role of a designer from both an owner’s point of view as well as from a designer’s point of view. It was interesting to see that all present seemed to agree that the design stage, from the designer’s point of view, is the most time-consuming phase in a project. He then brought up a project of lighting up corridors walkway around heritage building in which he had asked the help of residents staying around the area, a new way of engaging residents to team up with the designer to come up with a lighting design for an area which they are familiar with in their everyday life. With this collaboration, the resident becomes co-designers or curators of revitalized spaces, providing some interesting and meaningful ideas that the designer can incorporate to make it happen!
Enjoy the weekend!
Singapore – France – Netherlands – Bangkok – Singapore
Weekend 18-19th November 2017
It has been silent for a while for a sad reason…my Dad just passed away two weeks ago and as a result I had to cancel my attendance to PLDC to be with my Dad and with my Mum and family in the time that followed. It is important for me to take a moment to reflect on this, a stage in our lives that everyone goes through some times unfortunately early, sometimes late in life. My Dad was in his 90-iest year of life, one he lived without regret and to full satisfaction. He passed away peacefully and without pain with all of us present, which was all we could wish for. In the knowledge that he lived a good life and was still active till very recently (he had bought a new car earlier in the year at 89! and was still playing golf a month before he died!) his passing was hard but accepted with peace of mind by all of us.
I have many friends and colleagues who have lost their dad but until you experience it personally it is hard to grasp the magnitude of it. Your Dad is always in some ways your leading beacon, the one who sets the standards of your life, who leads by example. We may not always agree but very often find that he was right after all…I realise that I have taken on many things from my Dad and if others are to be believed even some of his mannerisms. I am proud of it and will do my very best to uphold his values and lead my kids (and my staff) by example. Gone forever, but for always in my heart.
Thailand Lighting Fair, Bangkok 2017
While my Dads passing away is life changing, life goes on and after having made sure that my Mum was well taken care of, I left back for Singapore last weekend to prepare for my appearance at THLF in Bangkok, were Kaoru Mende and myself were the VIP keynote speakers for the event. I value these events very much as this allows us to keep promoting the quality values of good lighting design and the opportunity to speak in front an audience estimated at between 700 and 800 people, mostly architects, designers, developers. While Kaoru shared his wide experience in city master planning, a topic very much alive in this part of the world, I had decided to lead my audience through a path of discovery in regards to the challenges we face to day as professional lighting designers. The simplicity from just a switch and an incandescent light bulb are long gone as today we have irreversibly moved to LED technology including its complex infra-structure of software, smart functions and the internet of things (IoT). Lighting design is no longer lighting design as we know it…we know have to consider a wide range of (non-lighting) options and smart functions including circadian lighting, LiFi and other mobile app based lighting control choices.
I also introduced my audience to that other major change that is about to happen, called Light as a Service (LaaS). There is no doubt that our world is moving towards a service driven circular economy (rather than the waste economy on which the lighting industry is currently based). Just like Uber and AirBnB for instance, lighting is poised to move to a service platform. In the Uber model, Uber does not own the taxis or the drivers, in AirBnB they do not own the accommodation, they just provide the service. There are already pilot projects implemented based on this service model for lighting. As the end-user you do not own the lighting, it is installed, operated and maintained for you. You just pay a fee that guarantees you an agreed amount light quality and energy consumption. In this model, like any other service model you have no upfront costs or investments and the responsibility for the lighting performance over time is shifted back to the consortium (lighting manufacturer/ investor/ contractor) that provides you the lighting.
With the world around us changing there is a strong need to re-assert the position of the lighting designer within these changes as well. A lighting designer can in my opinion no longer operate as a unique entity. While the coordinating role with architects and other design consultants will always remain, there will be a new leading role for the lighting designer integrating, guiding and managing the non-lighting functions as a cohesive proposal to our end clients. There is no doubt in my mind that regardless of the IoT, LiFi or LaaS the lighting designer will need to lead from the front, but re-think the way the services are delivered…
While I was not able to attend PLDC, my senior design team did and in next week’s blog we will review impressions from PLDC Paris…
Enjoy the weekend!
Singapore – Shanghai – Zhengzhou – Singapore
Weekend 21-22nd October 2017
The Zhengzhou trip
“U moh dlings?” I looked up at the flight stewardess, not understanding what she was trying to tell me? My quizzing look made her repeat the question: “U moh dlings? I was flying from Shanghai to Zhenzhou on a domestic flight and the Chinese attendant was doing her best to communicate with me! She then pointed to my empty glass…Ah…I got it! “You more drinks”…Whether I wanted another drink! Yes, please…
This week I am back in China to see a client, a big Chinese developer with whom we have already done some projects with our local team, but who had asked me to come in to kick start a quality drive and help convince the project team of the importance of good quality design and good quality (lighting) products. While my Shanghai team had been working with this client in Zhengzhou for a while I had not been back there since 2010 when working on the 300m high Zhengzhou Tower. It was great to see that the tower still shines in all its beauty without any noticeable LED light failure! The gold and cool white shades of dynamic light are still looking great…I am still happy we decided not to go for colour, except for the crown feature…great and powerful design, and still the major landmark in Zhengzhou!
It is hard to comprehend the culture and mindset in China if you have not experienced it first hand. Of course there is the lost in translation like described above, which at times can lead to comical situations, but that in itself is just a nice challenge and as you get used to it, you understand it better. If you throw in some Chinese like xie-xie; hen hao, mei quan xi, mei want ti, piau liang etc you quickly find yourself connecting with them.
But what surprises time and again is their lack of safety measures on work sites and their creativity to resolve problems with little means. Rather then your typical (glaring) work floodlights they had bought the cheapest of cheap linear flex light that hung as garlands from space to space. Who cares about colour or brightness consistency, or even failing light sections…! The perfect application for these $10/100m china made strip lights! Localised work lights was done with simple miners head lights…light where you need it at minimal costs! Work safety protection however, is practically non-existing.
China is still a happening place, mega projects where you look, certainly in Zhengzhou. When driving around from site to site I saw cranes and worksites wherever I looked! I added
some quick snaps of the sales office site model to give you an impression of just one of these projects…
My Zhengzhou client is into residential and hospitality projects and one part of our project work is developing a strategy to light up his high end residential carparks…in these case more than 5000 car park spaces in 4 locations. Worth developing a sensible (and smart) lighting strategy. Hence their request for me to come down to Zhengzhou to meet their team as the disconnect between the designers and contractor team is glaring. Where the architect shows beautiful renderings we only saw the cheapest of cheap suspended fluorescent look-a-like LED tubes hanging disorderly from the ceiling. Supposedly presence sensor driven the lights were all over the place, on when they were not supposed to be and vice versa…What happened to the design concept? I was re-assured and told to disregard what was installed and just “do my thing”. Though the light costs (complete fitting, LED tube and sensor) only 30 RMB (about USD 5! Who signed off on this??) it seemed still a lot of lights to scrap as I certainly am not going to use them!
Enjoy the weekend!
Video of the Zhengzhou tower
Singapore, weekend 14-15th October 2017
This week I have a special guest blogger from Vietnam, a country going through a strong economic growth with many projects on the go, some of which we are fortunate to be doing. Through my regular trips to Vietnam over the years I have learned to appreciate the culture, its people and its amazing food. An ambassador for good quality lighting, tirelessly advocating the benefits of good lighting to his (and some of our clients), Mr “Thong”, as we all call him, has become a bit of an icon in his country. I have known Mr Thong for more than 20 years and it has always been a pleasure to work with him, supported by his team and his vast lighting knowledge. These are the type of suppliers (and there are many of them around Asia) that make our lives as lighting design consultants so much easier. In this week’s blog entry below, Mr Thong will share what he calls the “hospital” concept. A concept we have discussed many times over the years, but which is now gradually taking shape…a great idea! I wish it all the success!
The lighting hospital concept, by Nguyen Quoc Thong
One day, I received a call from a lighting designer. He complained that some fixtures we supplied on a project did not work well. After a short research, we realized that the project was using LED fixtures (supplied by us) but the drivers supplied by another source were meant to be for halogen lamps and the contractor used an incandescent dimmer. No surprise then, that the lighting fixtures started to fail rapidly. This is what I explained to the designer who was in a tough position with the client because he approved all the products. “Oh! I thought they would know!!!”, he said, talking about the driver supplier and the electrical contractor.
Since LED has appeared in the lighting industry, there have been a lot of gaps in the coordination between designer, manufacturer, lighting supplier, contractor, etc. This gap has caused many troubles for the end user but no one resolves it because it is not really in their scope of works. This is how I came up with a “hospital” concept for lighting.
When you go to the hospital, you have the choice of which doctor will see you. After the doctor examines you, he will make a diagnostic and give you a prescription for drugs. From then, you can go to the pharmacy of the hospital, or you can go to another pharmacy. If you chose to go to another pharmacy, they may provide you with some alternatives drugs which may be of a slightly different formula than the actual prescription. Those may not be suitable for you and may not give the expected result. On the other hand, if you chose to go to the hospital pharmacy, they will make sure to provide you with the exact medicine which the doctor has prescribed, the purchase will be recorded and the hospital will take full responsibility for your prescription.
Once you have bought the medicine, you need to be careful with dosage and frequency and be aware of side effect. Some drugs can’t be taken before meals, others after meals. Some drugs can’t be combined with some type of food or drinks. Others will make you sleep, or stay awake, etc. If you are not careful and do not take the medicine properly, it may prevent a full recovery or generate unwanted side effects. Alternatively, you can stay at the hospital where the nurse will make sure that you will take the medicine at the right time and handle the risk of incompatibility with some foods and drinks. This would give you the best chance of recovering from your health issue fully and rapidly and would keep the hospital responsible in case of any side effect.
For lighting, my hospital concept works exactly in the same way. LED lighting is like a medicine, clients should not buy it directly from the manufacturer. They should to go through a supplier and receive advice on how to use the product and which accessories are compatible. When a client comes to us with a need, we give them a choice of lighting designers (invited by us), who could take care of their project. The lighting designers act as the doctors and the client will chose the most suitable for his purpose. After the design is finalized, the client can choose to buy the specified products or look for alternatives from other suppliers. If he prefers alternatives, he will come back to the designer cum doctor to perform the value-engineering and approve, or not, the selected products. This is the equivalent work of the pharmacy and selecting the source of supply is essential to ensure that the end-result will be true to the design.
Finally, when the time comes to install the products, the client has the possibility to use our installation team, the equivalent to the hospital nurse, or to ask for an external contractor. By using the internal installation team, you are sure that the installation will be done properly, by people who understand the project, the design and the products.
For the client, choosing a designer, products and an installation team who are working together saves time and ensures that everything will work as it is supposed to. In case of need, the “hospital” will have access to his record and will be able to understand potential issues rapidly and take the proper action. On the opposite, by selecting suppliers who have no relation to each other, the client risks incompatibilities. It is also likely that the responsibilities will be rejected or discussed between the different parties, leading to a slow resolution of problems, if any.
On the other hand, the first prescription from doctor is not the only and last solution, the patient must see the doctor again after some time, the doctor needs to review. In some cases, the prescription should be adjusted more appropriately. Similar to the lighting designer, the first lighting specification must be reviewed and adjusted to suit the reality of the project. Clients cannot rely on the first prescription to do it themselves without the designer’s opinion. Otherwise, clients will not get the results corresponding to the money that they spend!
A branded hospital needs a good doctor. The good doctor needs a good hospital to improve their reputation! Enjoy the weekend!
Below some images from Mr Thongs “hospital” 😊
Singapore, weekend 7-8th October 2017
As always, my stays in Perth provide me with that balance between lifestyle (Australia) and a driven business environment (Singapore/ Asia Pacific). The dryer, crisper and presumably healthier air of the Australian West Coast combined with the generally blue skies and sunny days give me that energy booster so badly needed to keep going for our projects around the world. But as the years are starting to count taking it easy and pacing yourself is crucial for the long run. Avoiding overnight flights whenever possible, use reasonable departure times to avoid having to get up at 4am, taking your time to go to the airport in time to avoid any form of potential stress…it’s all part of keeping sane and healthy.
The same strategy also applies towards our projects. Our main commodities are time and knowledge. Knowing how to distribute your knowledge in time is key to survival. For that you need to make sure you have enough time to research, prepare and document your work. As we are not working on just one project the net time needed is not the time you can advise your clients. There are too many variables that can influence your available time to deliver so making sure you have a comfortable time buffer to do your work is elementary in the success of your project and the appreciation you get from your client and the rest of the team in the process. When you are stressed for time, you are bound to take short cuts and the quality of your work suffers.
This in turn leads to the importance of prompt and good communication! Clarity about what a client or the rest of the team can expect from you is crucial. While in the early days we were eager to please and got easily “bullied” into delivering our design work within unreasonable time periods, we have learned how to master that by communicating and educating our clients early about the time we will need to deliver our work during the various stages of the design process.
The positive side effect of all this is that I have a happy team that does rarely slog it out till late hours to meet unreasonable deadlines. A happy family means a happy designer, a happy designer means a more motivated designer and a more motivated designer means a better quality of work delivery. It’s a win-win for all.
Just because we tell our clients that we need 3 weeks to deliver a stage of work does not mean we cannot deliver earlier, on the contrary, we love to do that as that provides our clients with a pleasant feeling that we look after them and treat their project as a priority! And if by any chance we have problems meeting the agreed timeline we will let our client know as early as possible with the reasons why, rather than keep silent. By definition people always think bad about you if they don’t know what is going on. You may as well be upfront and open about it and if there are time issues discuss together how best to resolve that with minimum impact to the project or other team members.
So after some energy boosting time in Perth where I did take some time for some hiking and outdoor activities after work, it was back to Singapore by mid-week to attend to some meetings and meet with suppliers for our project fitting selections. From natural light (life) to artificial light (life). It’s not that you cant do outdoor activities in Singapore, it’s just that the climate and life style does not really encourage you like it does in Australia…😊
While I do generally not attend all manufacturers and suppliers that come into our office, sometimes I do and this time I listened in on the latest product update from Luce & Light a company whose products we have been using regularly in our projects. It is really interesting to see how some companies find their way up in the industry from humble and modest beginnings with just a few good quality products to a leading position with innovative product features. There is no doubt that survival in this industry depends on the innovative power of your products, the novelty factors, being a step ahead of the competitions as the moment you become a me-too manufacturer it is much harder to keep your potential clients interested! Luce & Light is one of those companies that seems to have found the right balance between quality, innovation and service…
As lighting designers, we need to be in the forefront of design, show our clients that we know what is going on, and for that we need trendsetting lighting fixtures, be aware of the latest technologies. Hence the importance of keeping in touch with our manufacturers. You don’t want your clients to tell you about some new lighting innovation you are not aware off!
Below the contrast between beautiful (Perth) nature and natural light, colours and reflections versus office and artificial light
Enjoy the weekend!
Perth, weekend 30 – 1st October 2017
It’s hard to believe October is already here! This year is really flying past…In a few weeks I will be off to Paris for the PLDC and then before you know it will be Xmas! The last few months of the year will be very busy though. Work has been steady and there are many new projects in the pipeline and I got some speaking engagements too. On a personal level I have also a lot of pet projects cooking in the kitchen that I am eager to move forward with. While I am less involved in the day to day running of the company and actual project design works, I have increased my attention to some of my pet activities such as writing, knowledge sharing and since recently exploring the opportunities of Light as a Service. With the IoT and smart nation approaches that countries and project clients more and more seem to adopt there is new terrain to explore as a lighting designer. Where do we fit in, how can we remain relevant in the lighting design industry if non-lighting functions and requirements are gradually making their way into the lighting solutions? It is important to get a good understanding on how this will affect us and how we can stay ahead to make sure that quality lighting design remains the lead design priority.
Just a difficult client?
On Monday I flew to Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) to attend to a hotel mock up room review with the lead consultant and operator for a client who has been extremely difficult or perhaps I should say “ignorant” of the design process and the importance to look after your consultants to get a good result…it’s a long story…
I think we all have had these clients and moments at times…those clients who think you will do everything they ask, deliver everything they need, sometimes repeatedly because of their internal poor communication within unrealistic times and most of all without paying you. In this case it relates to a high end 5-star hotel and the project is now approaching its 10-year milestone! We are only part of the team for the last 3-4 years but the lead consultants and operator since the beginning! What keeps you in such project that creates more frustration than joy, let alone income?
Good question and quite honestly, I have contemplated a few times to call it quits, as has the lead consultant, but then you have put in so much efforts already that you do want to try and see this come to a good end.
What are the frustrations that we are dealing with?
First of all, the clients’ total ignorance about the project design process. Having only done residential projects where the consultant inputs are minimal they are now suddenly confronted with a multitude of consultants and an operator (Marriott) who all follow stringent design guidelines and standards requiring an enormous amount of coordination. The client appointed an engineering company to manage the project but with no experience in the hospitality field they are struggling to follow our lead and try time and again to implement the way of working as they were used to, to build a factory or residential unit. To show they understand the process, they just issued us with a process / organisation diagram indicating turn-around times. My experience is that the more diagrams and schedules they issue the less they really understand of the process! They also do not seem to be able to read or print from a computer as every time we are slapped with demands to send out hard copies…
Ah..and then of course there are the payments. Not once have we had an invoice “normally” accepted and paid. Every time there are excuses, the name of the project manager has changed, the company name should be different, a receipt is missing, the invoiced scope should be different, etc, etc…Then they need a hard copy to be sent before they can start the process and so on. I learned that this company has a department that does nothing else then finding ways to delay or deny payments…go figure…
Now we, the consultants and operator, who insists the client properly uses and pays its consultants, have huddled together and we will not issue or move to any issue unless all outstanding payments are cleared. This now prompted the management company to issue a payment procedure chart that they want us to sign…
The biggest challenge yet to come is when we move from the mock up room to the final “control” room, the final sample room that will serve as the reference for the contractor to implement all other 180+ rooms. We had huge difficulties to get the mock up room built to our specifications but I am sure they will want to cut (read: slash) the cost for the implementation.
In the end we did sign off on the room but with quite a list of corrections and modifications to be implemented, specifically the room controls were a mess, a bit like when the phone rings the shower starts to work…😊
Before I left for Perth we had an introduction to the new Connect Inline range, a series of modular linear lighting products that can be customised to need for both indoors and outdoors. A great initiative from Light-alive, in a market where value for money products are important to fight the cowboys that spill the market with their poor quality low price products. Good stuff!
Enjoy the weekend!
Singapore, weekend 23-24th September 2017
A little angel seems to be giving me some extra time as this week as again a planned trip was pushed back to a later date. I am not sure if the postponements are symptomatic or just a coincidence, possibly a combination of both…in both cases however it was related to the client/ contractor needing more time to properly finish preparations to avoid having the overseas consultants flying to unfinished business. I think it is a good thing because too often I have seen clients rushing in their consultants for a quick sign off or half-baked presentations only to find out that we are not going to be bullied into signing off or accepting if it is not up to standards. I like to believe the awareness to deliver good quality, even if it means taking a bit more time, is starting to be appreciated…
This week I am pleased to welcome another guest writer, a good friend and long-time collaborator on many projects over the years, Paul McNamara, regional director for the Flos Lighting Group here in Singapore. Paul happened to be in our office on the day when we were shooting material for our corporate video last year and gracefully accepted to contribute with a little testimonial…watch Paul here.
As designers, we are often stuck in our ways and breaking out of it sometimes requires inspiration. Being inspired by creative and innovative new lighting products is one of the ways…
Breaking the Mould, by Paul McNamara
I was recently talking to an Architect friend of mine, who after completing another stunning residential house here in Singapore, was complaining that he was getting tired of doing houses and wanted to design ‘something different’. The problem he faced was that the architectural practice where he works was one of the ‘go to’ companies for a high-end residence and so the circle began; the more the projects they did, the better the projects were and the more similar projects they were awarded. In many walks of life people get ‘pigeon holed’ or typecast, from film stars to musicians once you make your mark in a particular sphere it is very difficult to persuade an audience you are something different.
Flos is very well known in architectural circles for their contemporary designs and design classics including the Arco lamp and Taccia. Last year the Flos group acquired an Italian exterior company called Ares. The decision was made to maintain Ares as a stand alone brand but introduce Flos Outdoor as a new brand in this unique sector of our industry. Coming up with new interesting product designs, product performance which meets the specification requirements of the lighting designer and durability for todays harsh environment can be difficult.
Thankfully the design community has accepted Flos Outdoor with its unique designs, use of different materials such as marble and copper finishes which make the products unparalleled.
For my architect friend, and other designers who have been tagged as experts in their own field, trying to convince clients to give you a chance or bet on the unknown to create something new is a much more difficult proposition. It maybe that an architect has to offer a very low fee to get appointed for a project where they have little experience or rely on a trusted working relationship where a developer is prepared to take a calculated risk.
However, I do not think you will see James Bond appearing in a soap opera anytime soon!