Shenzhen – Hong Kong – Singapore, weekend 25-26 March
As I prepare this blog I am in transit in Hong Kong on my way back from Shenzhen to Singapore after an intensive design workshop with the interior design for one of our projects in China. While it was full on, we did have time for a “light” moment, see one of the pics below :). While in Shenzhen I also took the opportunity to revisit one of our earlier projects, the Shangri-la Futian, that was complete about 9 years ago. It is always educational to revisit your own projects just to see how they stand the test of time…and I must say I was pleased with what I saw…pretty much the same as then, though it now clearly looks a bit dated. The lighting still functions well and some of the early day LED linear lights that we installed were still working and had never been replaced! How do I know… because we had a chat with the GM and did the rounds with the chief engineer who had been there since the opening! But what we did see is what we see happening all over the world, engineering departments asking the help of lighting suppliers to replace conventional lighting with LED lights…with disastrous results (poor color temperature, bright and glary, etc). The coincidence of our visit was timely as we agreed to prepare a proposal for the LED conversion…we look forward to help the hotel move into the new age of LED lighting…see some pics below.
This week is the turn of Siew Mei, my trusted personal assistant and the one who manages our office as our office manager. While she is not a lighting designer her role in our company cannot be underestimated; she is the glue that holds us all together! For a SME like ours, people with Siew Mei’s skills and administrative experience are vital. She plans, she organises and make things happen while not hesitating to tell us all off (me included!) if we err from our responsibilities to keep our company successful! So here she is…have a great weekend.
Martin asked me to share my perspective as an office manager working in a lighting design company via our Light Talk blog. My job scope is totally different from the designers, but I provide them the support in order to complete their work as efficiently as possible, chasing clients for signed contracts and invoice payments, making travel arrangements for them, assuring that the bills are paid, the air-con is cooling, the office is clean, up to mundane things like making sure there is enough toilet paper… J. Does it resonate to the role of a mother? I sometimes do think so too. I may not have any exciting projects and pictures to share with you but it’s the exciting changes we will have internally in KLD that I would like to talk about.
For a company to continue growing, the first priority is to be able to retain good quality employees and groom them to take on more responsibility. Thus, this year, we focus on growing our designers. We had our very first workshop together 2 months ago and it was very well accepted by all fellow colleagues. This type of workshop not only let the whole team relax from their routine but also let them get to know each other better. To that, we all are looking forward to the coming workshop in April…
Apart from grooming our employees, we have also invested in the some of the latest software so we can stay a step ahead of our competitorsJ. Clients are still very much impressed with the way we present our concepts, but it is not enough, we need to look ahead and move with the times. Animation and 3D is the new love in design industry. The enthusiastic feedback that we have received from our clients is of course the best encouragement to our team to keep on improving.
Another exciting change you all will see very soon is the revamped company website! The new website will have a crisp and modern look with all the new functions, interactive features and interactions with social media. The new look hopes to improve the way we present our projects to the public and to attract potential clients as well. Keep a lookout for our new website to be launched in the next 2 months!
All these constant improvement and changes have been keeping us going and going strong despite the constant news of economy downturn. With the lead from Martin, we hope to achieve another great year ahead!
Perth, Australia, weekend 18-19 March
Working from my Perth office this week, it provides me really with different perspectives. Each country has its own culture and way of working. I guess being able to move and work in different countries is one of the many ways to create perspective in the approach to design and most of all communication. Doing a presentation in Asia is definitely different from doing one in Australia. Communications are more direct and straight forward. This week was set against several new client encounters and presentations are very much part of expressing our expertise. This week Jordan shares his experience as one of our latest recruits. In just a short time he has made his skills very valuable to our team! Here is Jordan’s blog…have a great weekend!
Thanks to Martin for giving me the opportunity to share my experience in this blog. I am another first-time blogger so bear with me. I’ve been with KLD for just a few months now and it has been a very enjoyable experience. Initially, I was convinced that I was hired to replace the water bottle on top of the cooler every time it ran out – but I hope I’ve also been able to contribute in other ways more related to lighting design and our projects. All kidding aside, in the short time I’ve been with the company I’ve been able to soak in so much from our experienced senior staff, my fellow junior colleagues and Martin, working with and observing them on some very interesting projects. Today I’d like to blog about my transition from Landscape to Lighting and about the emergence of 3D visualization within Lighting Design.
Landscape to Lighting
Prior to my time at KLD, I was a Landscape Architect consultant, first in Canada and then briefly in Singapore for a total of 4 years. I’ve had the pleasure of working on many exciting projects in two very different parts of the world. Although there are many differences in the types of projects I was involved with between the two countries, the challenges related to client management and coordination between multiple disciplines are very much the same. In Canada, many of the projects were municipal, so the budgets were always very tight, and when something had to be cut from a project due to budgetary constraints, Landscape Architects usually took the hit as opposed to the architect or engineer. Consulting in Singapore has been a nice change. Working on hospitality projects in Southeast Asia, the budgetary constraints aren’t the same as with government projects in Canada, which is really refreshing.
Lighting has always been a part of my life, as my father owns and operates a retail lighting company in Canada. Having worked there during my secondary school years, I was able to assemble and install many different lighting fixtures in the store show room. I was always impressed with the different lighting effects that could be achieved. Before attending University I was able to work in landscape construction, implementing residential landscape designs. Having the connection with my dad’s lighting store, I also offered landscape lighting design and installation. Having a first-hand look at how a landscape can be transformed by lighting was really inspiring.
After moving to Singapore and working in Landscape Architecture, I started to get an idea of the different consulting companies in the area. In Canada, Lighting Design consultancies are few and far between, so I was surprised to see how many existed in Singapore. I think it’s safe to say there are more Lighting Design companies here in Singapore, then the entire country of Canada – by a long shot! The more I looked into the different Lighting Design companies and the types of work that they were doing, the more interested I became in Lighting Design.
I looked into how I could start practicing lighting design and found a distance education Master’s program based out of Germany (Wismar). The program is done online with weeklong seminars every semester in Germany, so you’re able to work while you complete it. I got accepted and started looking for lighting designer positions right away. Luckily after applying to KLD I was asked to come in for an interview. Eventually, after meeting Martin two more times and pestering him with emails, I was able to convince him to let me join the team. My persistency paid off! Having completed one semester of school and almost 5 months at KLD, I can say with confidence that I am hooked on lighting design!
3D visualization has always fascinated me – being able to replicate a design and represent it in an (almost) life-like rendering or fly-through is such a powerful tool when you’re attempting to gain approval for your design from a client. In some cases words aren’t necessary, as a fly-through video has the ability to tell the entire design story and also provide the ‘wow’ factor the client is anticipating. From a client perspective, I’m sure it’s an exhilarating experience to see the vision come to life and being able to accurately imagine the end result.
3D visualization and animation has been part of architecture, interior design and landscape architecture projects for quite some time now, however it as equally as powerful in lighting design. With the ability to import IES files directly into many 3D programs, creating an accurate representation of lighting effects is the new reality. The greatest part of using 3D visualization as lighting designers is that the Architects and Interior Designers typically do most of the heavy lifting by creating the 3D model of the project. Lighting Designers can place their IES files and instantly view the result.
This brings me to my next point. 3D visualization is not only a tool to impress the client, but it can also be used as an excellent design tool for lighting designers to get a real-time view of their design. Good lighting design isn’t always created after the first attempt. 3D visualization allows lighting designers to design in real time, viewing the results almost instantly and ensuring the end product will be something successful. Of course, not every company has the mind-set that 3D visualization is worth the time and resources, but in my opinion the forward-thinking companies that do invest in using 3D visualization’s in their projects now will constantly have the upper hand on those that don’t. It wouldn’t surprise me that in the near future, client presentations will be performed by handing the client a pair of virtual reality glasses and allowing them to explore the space right from their office!
Luckily for me, KLD is one of those forward-thinking companies that invests in 3D technology, so I’ve been able to hone my 3D skills and learn a few new programs along the way. Most recently, we completed a 3D fly-through video of a superyacht project and a hotel resort project, both in China. Creating these was both fun and challenging, as a lot of work needs to go into it to make sure it’s worthy of presenting to a client. We’ve still got a little ways to go before we find our groove as far as 3D representation goes, but I believe so far we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg with 3D visualization at KLD!
Sydney, Australia, weekend 11-12 March
This week, as well as next week, we will have one of our recently joined juniors’ blogging about their experiences. It is refreshing as well as educational to hear lighting designer’s thoughts and experiences from different positions within a companies operations. I have always blogged from my position as “the boss”, but getting feedback and stories from other team member’s perspectives has been a real pleasure. While I am currently in Australia, this week it’s Cindy’s story, enjoy…have a great weekend.
Cindy Dong, Junior Lighting Designer
First of all, I’d like to thank Martin for giving this chance to start my first step into blogging as a “lighting designer”. At first, I had no idea how to begin and what to say since I just started learning about lighting design. However, with an encouraging topic given by Martin, ‘shifting from interior designer to lighting designer’, I was able to write about my experience after joining KLD and my first-hand experience with lighting design.
Working as an interior designer
Before I joined KLD, I worked as an interior design consultant in Singapore. Working in an interior design firm, I mainly had to talk to clients and help them on their house renovations. It was quite challenging—not only because it takes time to understand what the clients need and want, but also because there are even more details and considerations to follow up on before the project can be properly handed over. I learned that no project can be beautifully and successfully done in the blink of an eye and that it takes a lot of responsibility, time, technical knowledge, and experience. Although it was tough, I was motivated when I learned new things and see the clients happy with the result; it encouraged me to keep moving forward. Despite that, however, a friend who was working in a lighting consultation firm called me for an interview for an urgent opening of junior designer position. Before this opportunity, I barely knew about lighting design. During the interview, however, this whole ‘lighting’ thing captured my mind. Since then, I couldn’t help but keep searching for more information about lighting design and even purposely went out to the city in the middle of the night to simply observe how the lighting design works and how it impacts the environment. It was so interesting that lighting can create a totally different scene from how it looks during the day.
My perspective is that lighting brings hope to people and enhances the sense of place. I suddenly desired to become a lighting designer who does not only light up the space but also people’s heart. Besides having an admiring heart towards lighting professionals, I started applying to lighting design companies hoping I could learn more about it and gain more experience and skills.
Joining KLD as a junior lighting designer
With hopes and prayer, I was able to find one lighting consultancy’s old post about hiring new staff on a job hunting web site. I remember that it took me nearly a week to find out its address and I unhesitatingly took the opportunity. I prepared my resume and clumsy portfolio and went to visit the company, determined and bracing myself for rejection. J Luckily, the seniors interviewed me on the spot (Martin was travelling abroad at the time). I don’t really remember what I said during the interview; I probably just spat out whatever I had in mind without filtering it because I was too excited and nervous to talk with senior lighting professionals!
Since Joining KLD, I recognized that as a designer, it is essential to have good communicational skills to have a good teamwork and to liaise well with clients and suppliers. I find myself needing a constant training to improve on this so that it won’t hinder me from running projects independently in the future. I am deeply grateful to my colleagues and especially my seniors for their patient mentoring. Now, I am gradually improving in efficiently assisting seniors on document, drawing and rendering works.
Luxury Collection Resort & Spa
I had a chance to be involved and to assist some of the seniors’ projects in various areas like commercial, hotel, and so on. During the first month, Amanda, one of our seniors, gave me a job to assist her on a Luxury Collection Hotel Resort mock up room in Vietnam. It’s a 6-star luxury hotel resort and spa surrounded by the beach and the hills – a good project to start my training (though it was hard working on all the detail drawings). At first I worked without fully digesting the project. But after accompanying Amanda for a meeting with the interior designers recently, I realised this project is a lot more interesting than I had imagined. Because the light will play an important role to beautifully create the harmony between the villa’s (the light spill from interior) and the surroundings at night. It would have been even more exciting if the client had also engaged us for the full landscape lighting design so that we could have integrated lighting design ideas to bring out all the aspects of the nice structures, the oriental elements together with the nature. In this project however we will just review and comment on what the landscape designer proposes
Parkview Square Site Visit
Recently, Cheryline allowed me to join her site meeting at Parkview Square lobby & bar. Wow, that site visit was such an inspiration because I felt like I’m in a different world. Lighting can create a perfect 3D effect, especially on the ceiling, when the right light fitting is installed. When Martin and Cheryline were checking and adjusting all the dimming and angles, I was pretty amazed and that reminded me how lighting brings “life” to space! And that’s why it effectively stimulates the emotions of people and leaves a great impact in their memory. It was another opportunity for me to learn more about the importance of engaging with lighting designers. Cheryline let me be involved in doing its toilet design. I wish I can learn a lot from there as well.
I’ve been working on renderings quite often since I joined, and it’s been really challenging for me as it’s hard to figure out the effect of lightings especially to find out where the light travels. So in order to visualise better, I had to spend some time to go out and see the lights at night. But this Parkview Square visit showed me a lot of lighting effects at once! I believe I can apply my learning here to my rendering works. J
I’d like to end my blog by saying I look forward to many more of these journeys to become a “real” lighting designer.
Singapore, Week 27-3 March 2017
After the senior’s blogs it is time to get some insight in how our juniors experience their work as part of the team. Aishah has been a delightful part of our team, eager to learn and gradually cementing her place within the team. The blog below are Aishah’s words and experience…have a great weekend!
Assisting the seniors
If you have been reading the previous posts, what you will be reading below is the point of view from a junior lighting designer, my point of view :). I started working about 3 years ago. As a junior lighting designer, I was assigned to my assist seniors in their projects, from CAD drawings to Photoshop and documentation. With little knowledge of lighting prior to this, I managed well thanks to the guidance from my seniors, colleagues and Martin. It is very interesting to see how each project takes on different approach in solving issues that we face along the way.
Besides CAD drawing and documentations, I was given the opportunity to tag along with my seniors for site inspection and meetings, whenever necessary. Most of the time I will be taking down the minutes of the meeting and observing my seniors handle the situation i.e. talking to clients, coordinating with other consultants. Being part of a lighting designer, a good communication, discussion and negotiation skills are part of the job while dealing with different groups of people (which I am still learning and admiring how the seniors are able to deal with such situations). It is not all just about the drawings and renderings – though it is still as important and provides good impressions to our client and project team – in reality it is about making things work. By being on site, I get to see drawings turning into reality and sometimes what may seem to work from behind my screen is not entirely the way it is on site. So we have to always be prepared for sudden changes.
Barclays trading office
‘Lighting design draws on technical knowledge but also on creativity’
Currently I am assisting my senior, Amanda, on a renovation project of a trading office in Singapore. We are tasked to provide an optimal lighting solution for a trading office environment. With the given constraints (minimum ceiling space, protruding beams to be avoided and minimum glare and reflections for the TV monitors and traders) we were to select a few options – suspended, recessed, surface mounted – for the light fixture which then needed to be discussed with the interior designer. Ultimately the light has to provide sufficient lighting without any disturbing effects such as glare and a uniformly lit office provides eye comfort when working with PC screens. Therefore, we have to calculate the uniformity and UGR (Unified Glare Rating) to select the best possible fitting all in good consultation with the interior designer.
With the help from Jordan, one of my colleagues, we were able to simulate the lighting effects with selected light fixtures within the desired space using Dialux Evo, the latest issue light calculation software. We had a tough time attaining a good result. When he uniformity was good, the UGR was bad, or vice versa. It took quite some trial and error optimal balance between both, not forgetting to achieve the recommended the lux levels for such office environment. The distance between each light fixture, the mounting height and the quantity determines the above. Within the same brand and product family, there were many options we could choose from. Some products are very similar, they meet our requirements but have different added qualities. To help narrow down our choices, we received some further input from the manufacturer’s sales representative as he some valuable added knowledge of the products from application is similar projects. After many calculations, we manage to eliminate a few products to settle for 4 complying lighting solutions and finalised the options for the ID to choose from. I am very curious to see how our calculations on Dialux will compare to real life.
There is still so much I have yet to grasp and learn in this lighting industry, I hope to gain as much knowledge as I can along the way.
Singapore, Week 20-24 February 2017
This week’s blogger is the third member of my “Charlie’s Angels” team, Amanda Yap. She has been with me for many, many years and is part of my trusted senior lighting designers at KLD. As with the others the blog is pretty much as she wrote it with some minor edits to maintain the original sprit of what Amanda wrote. While not glamorous it is a very real story of life at work as a lighting designer. Have a great weekend!
Amanda Yap, senior lighting designer
So, this week it is my turn to write the blog for Light Talk. It feels just like “yesterday” that I helped out Martin to create Light Talk’s blog layout template, exploring and understanding how these blogs work. Now it’s my turn to be one of the writers.
Singapore residential landscape renovation project
This is a project that requested our services to have a look at the existing landscape lighting and provide them with a recommendation for a ‘touch up” basically an upgraded lighting design. When Martin handed me this, I was worried and told him about my concern that the review of landscape area required someone with quite an experience in auditing of outdoor lighting (I had no previous experience in lighting audits) as well as an understanding of the nature of plants and typical outdoor lighting problems. But with Martin’s support assurance, I bravely took up this job and ended up reviewing the site a few times during the design process. Now, finally, this project is at the stage of awarding the contract to one of the tenderers.
With Martin’s support and together with my colleagues who came with me to the site to help me doing the surveys, we learned a lot. Before finalizing the tender award, we had requested for visual mock ups of specific areas on site. I had arranged for the light fitting deliveries on site and with the help of my colleagues Aishah and Jordan (for some extra manpower) we managed to have everything run smoothly that day. When finally the time for testing came we were all anxious and excited as we had waited for the night to arrive. Through careful location planning of the test areas we had managed to minimize time consuming moving around of the different light fitting types. The visual mock ups we did consisted lighting up a 30m high column and two different types of trees while testing out different aiming and mounting positions in the process. Each of the 3 tests was carried out 3 times (!) as we were evaluating light fitting submissions from 3 different tenderers.
Checking out other mounting positions and angles had become necessary as we found during the testing of the lighting effects that the original locations caused potential glare. Importantly the resident manager had joined us for the visual mock up sessions which allowed us to explain the differences between the different types of fixtures and show the different effects of varying colour temperatures. We were able to show that our proposed cooler colour temperature for the landscape trees enhanced the predominant tones of blue and green, allowing the leaves of the trees to look more lively and green. At the same time we demonstrated that the use of warmer colour temperatures left the leaves of the tree look a more unnatural yellowish green. The visual testing on site took us well over 2 hours but we are now confident that, as this project proceeds into installation, we will see a great end result.
Club houses in Desaru, Malaysia
Like Cheryline and Grace, I also went for my first overseas trip of the year (but by car instead of plane). My trip to Desaru was for 2 projects located close to each other in the same golf resort project. As both projects are coming to their completion, this site visit had as task to check if the site had been installing the lights as per our design specifications and to carry out some final testing and aiming on site. It was not my first visit to the project site and to be more efficient on site, I usually go with my colleague, Aishah. This trip generally takes 2 days and 1 night and we have to plan our time well as these 2 sites are not really within walking distance. To complicate things further they are not constructed and managed by the same group of people. The first thing we did when we reached Desaru (after a 2 + hour drive from Singapore), is to walk both sites thoroughly checking the lighting installation for design compliance, defects and outstanding works. Then only at night when it is dark we can continue to test and check the lighting effects. The main purpose of this trip for one of the sites was to test the dimming installation, but as we only found out on arrival the programmer couldn’t make it. While this is frustrating and seemingly very disrespectful, it is unfortunately quite common in Asia, even though it was confirmed prior to the trip. We will now have to postpone the fine tuning and programming of dimming scenes to a next trip, another additional cost for the client…
The truth with both project sites as with many in Asia is that there is not enough budget planned for lighting, whether by choice from the client or through inexperience of the QS and as a result almost all light fixtures installed on site were much cheaper alternative fixtures. It highlights the dilemma of lighting designers…stick to your specifications or compromise…In the process the contractor (also likely on a very tight budget) hopes that you will not be too picky and tell them that their lighting positions and fixture installations are acceptable. We have been to site many times and the same lighting issues that were highlighted before still look untouched and as bad as we had seen it the last time. Whenever we can we force the contractors to rectify it on the spot, one by one, with us beside them in order to get even simple things done like readjusting an interior or exterior light fixture.
Not surprisingly therefore our trip to Desaru ended with a long, long list of defects and outstanding works in our report. I hope that our next trip will be a more fruitful trip!
Singapore, Week 13-17 February 2017
This week’s blogger is Grace Eng another one of my long serving staff and a senior lighting designer at KLD. While I have edited some minor things, the blog is pretty much as per original writing as I want to maintain the authenticity of each individual as much as possible. enjoy the read, have a great weekend!
Grace Eng, senior lighting designer
It was only after Martin reminded me yesterday that I realised that this week it is my turn to write the blog! I cracked my head overnight thinking about the topic to blog about, but here it is :).
First I would like to start this blog by telling you how I became a lighting designer. I graduated with an Engineering Degree and was hunting the ideal job (with hopes that I would get one) through Jobstreet back in 2005. It was this post of a company looking for a Junior Lighting Designer that caught my attention. I wondered what job it was and what a lighting designer does. Does a lighting designer design a light fixture? With my head full of questions and out of curiosity I clicked on the advertisement to find out more about the responsibilities and requirements for a lighting designer, mostly because never in my life I had thought that a job as lighting designer existed!
After I had a look at the responsibilities section and the company website, I got a rough idea about what a lighting designer actually does! But then other questions popped up in my mind. Shouldn’t the lighting design in a space not be taken care by an Interior Designer…or an Electrical Engineer? Why is there a separate need for such expertise? With all these questions in my head, I decided to “find out” more by clicking on the “Apply” button. After a week I was lucky enough to receive a reply telling me that they wanted to interview me for this post. Without hesitation, I bought a bus ticket from Malaysia travelled about 10 hours to Singapore for this interview.
Yeah, we know what happens during an interview for a fresh graduate and junior post…in the first part you introduce yourself, in the second part you discuss your skills, experiences followed by some Q+A. The last part in this interview that really opened my eyes was where I was being explained about my responsibilities in detail along with nice project images! I got really excited about this job and it changed my mind that I should stop applying for boring engineering jobs. After a second interview by Martin, I was then offered the job as a junior lighting designer. As a fresh graduate student, and had never studied or heard anything about lighting, Martin guides and teaches me with his great patience, enthusiasm and care. I have been working for Martin for many years now and all the while I do not see him as my “Boss” (the Asian way of calling). In fact i see Martin as a lecturer and a motivator as he teaches, inspire and encourage all of us in the office along the way.
The dazzling beauty of light does not appear until the sky gets dark. No matter how great a building or the interior design is, it is nothing if there is no light to enhance it! We are the lighting people!
China Cup Luxurious Yacht Project.
I started my 1st oversea business trip of this year for the above mentioned project in China a week before the Chinese New Year where we had to do a lighting concept presentation to the clients. As the client does not understand English well, my task was to translate Martin’s words into Mandarin, a difficult task as I’m not a professional translator. In the later part of the presentation I decided to use my own words in Chinese to present it to the client which felt much easier. The client was happy with our concept and we are now in the DD process. As I do not have much experience in yacht lighting, the process in specifying the highly specialised marine grade fixtures takes longer than usual, which was further complicated by the fact that we did not find (unlike for the typical architectural lighting fixtures for buildings) local representatives in Singapore for the mostly European based specialist manufacturers. While it slows down the process in getting the right fixture, we are lucky to have had good positive response from the specialised lighting manufacturers that we had identified for yacht lighting.
Xitang Resort Project
After we had finished our meeting with the yacht client, we took a domestic flight from Shenzhen to Shanghai. As it happened the days we spent in Shanghai were one of the coldest days in Shanghai! It was 3 degree during the day and around freezing point (0 degr) at night. As this was the third progress presentation of our concept to the client, the content of the presentation was more an update with mainly renderings and an exciting animation 3D movie, we had made. The client was impressed by our presentation and were graciously thanked for our efforts after we completed our presentation (you can always tell when the client and the team applauds when you finish the presentation!). Despite the peak travel time at the eve of Chinese New Year we managed to get our flight back to Singapore. The next day morning I received a Wechat from the client again mentioning to me that our presentation yesterday was great! It is nice to have such feedback from a client as it shows that our hard work is being appreciated and it is important to keep our standard high.
Singapore weekend 11-12 February 2017
First of all welcome back and happy Chinese New Year of the Rooster! After a long break the blog is back but with a new “look”. From this week onwards I will not be writing the blog but my team and invited guests, mostly close collaborators, will be sharing their views on lighting, lighting design and what it is to work in a lighting design practice like ours. Their views and opinions are mostly unedited to maintain as much authenticity as possible and only formatted to fit the blog structure. I may add in my own comments here and there, but the idea is that I step back and leave the floor to the many people that have supported me and my practice over the years. First of the rank this week is Cheryline Chua, one of my long serving staff and a Senior Lighting Designer at KLD. I hope you enjoy this new approach and look forward to inputs and suggestions for other potential guest writers! Have a great weekend!
Cheryline Chua, senior lighting designer
Since I am given the opportunity to start first, I take the opportunity at this period when our engines are enjoying a short respite during this Lunar New Year holiday season to blog about the two projects that we have worked hard for in the last year and should be completed in 2017.
Singapore Bar renovation
After working for days on site rushing for completion of a renovated Bar in central Singapore, especially from December 2016 to the beginning of the year 2017, the site was cleaned up and prepared for a private event in the middle of January prior to the actual opening. The hoarding was still up but guests were ushered through a doorway and unveiled a new setup of the bar with new reception, new carpet, new bar counters and new lighting! The lighting is more than 90% completed, leaving with mainly fine-tuning and aiming which had to wait for the furniture to arrive. The client used some original furniture from the previous bar and rented as temporary furniture for the floor and we had the first opportunity to showcase how the remote controlled lighting was able to make this event space spectacular. On the day of the event, I arrived at site 2 hours before the event to aim all the lighting on the tables and the sculptures. Aiming is a very important work of lighting designers but people generally do not know until they see the effects of properly aimed lighting! The client and GM were very impressed and happy to see the space being transformed within an hour. After months of defending our lighting design, it is great to see the fabulous results and feel like our efforts have paid off.
We were very excited to share the photos taken for the night but were told to hold back as the client prefers to share with us their professional pictures only when the bar is officially opened. So we are still looking forward to the day of completion! Below are some sneak previews…
Yangshuo Resort project
I had a fast restart to the year for work as my first overseas business trip to Guangzhou in the first week of January was organized at the last site visit in December of last year. It was a trip insisted by Martin for the suppliers to come together to test the dimming compatibility between the lighting supplier and the lighting control supplier. We had been pressing for dimming compatibility test and reports for months and finally we had to make everyone commit to a place and time for us to finally clear the cloud. The presence of the client was welcomed, allowing us to show directly the effects of poor and non-compatible dimming.
Lighting control companies in China operate quite differently from the rest of the world. China is like a world of its own and the suppliers who do not work beyond China, have no interest to understand and resolve the concerns of international consultants like KLD. The lighting control supplier had ignored my call for coordination for months and finally it was clear that it is because they were brought in by the M&E consultant and it is common for lighting control suppliers to listen to the M&E consultant rather than the lighting consultant, since it is not so common to have lighting consultants in China yet. I had to make the point several times during that trip that lighting control has everything to do with lighting design and that close coordination with the lighting consultant was critical.
The dimming tests started off rocky when I pointed out that the equipment in the office were not the right type for our dimming tests and the lighting supplier also did not prepare enough fixtures for us to do testing. We decided to work with what we had on hand first while waiting for more equipment and fittings to be sent to the office. We also started seeing some light flickering and shimmering when the lights were dimmed, with both the lighting supplier and the lighting control supplier offering no solution to the problem. They had expected us to accept slight shimmering but I pointed out that shimmering becomes very obvious and disturbing especially when there are a few of them happening at the same time; they will never be synchronized which will amplify the shimmering effect. The client also agreed that shimmering lights should not be accepted.
Key to the problem was that we had specified 0-10V dimming, but the site contractor had largely ignored that and proceeded to install (“old fashioned”) phase dimming. The client asked whether the problem lies with the light fitting or the lighting control equipment, and he finally seemed to understand that compatibility is hard to explain. He even used the analogy of a couple that cannot bear children but they might end up bearing children when they marry someone elseJ. We met with a standstill for a while when both sides said they had nothing else to offer to resolve the issue. After further pressing, the lighting supplier found another few drivers to test and finally we were able to find one that did not cause the light to shimmer. The later part of the day went on better and we were able to wrap up the day with understanding the limitations to the (phase) dimming and what cannot be accepted in hospitality projects. In those areas not yet installed with phase dimming the client agreed to push for 0-10V dimming. It is so much more productive with many outstanding problems being resolved in a few hours when the right people are involved (lighting consultant!) compared to leaving it to be sorted between the contractor and suppliers for months on end. Suppliers generally only care about when they can have confirmation of orders and not whether their equipment works with others. However with this dimming test, we are now more set to achieve a common goal to produce a good result.
As we enter the New Year, I cannot wait to see these two projects that I have been working on very hard for the past many months finally shaping up for completion. I look forward to progressing on a few more exciting projects that had started last year in the coming months.
Singapore- Shenzhen- Guilin- Yangshuo- Bangkok- Singapore – Sydney, Xmas Weekend 24 – 25 December 2016
And so we have arrived at the end of the last working week of the year (at least for our office). We closed at noon today (Friday) and before I fly off to Sydney for my Xmas holidays with family and friends in the early hours tomorrow morning, I tussle between writing my blog and last minute issues to be resolved with those clients (mainly Chinese) who as always do not follow our Xmas tradition and for some reason do not seem to understand that we are shutting down till the new year and keep pushing for resolve on some issues. One of our projects here in Singapore nota bene plans to commission on the 31st of December! Only the installation contractor and the client seem to be present as all other lead consultants including ourselves are gone fishing! Having just returned from China yesterday questions and issues keep crowding the airwaves on another project that has kept us on the edge till the last minute before we locked the office.
Overall it has been a satisfying week and for that matter a very satisfying year! We are ending on a high and look forward to another great year ahead. It will be my last blog for a while as I have not decided what to do in the new year. As I mentioned before I have some new plans but I will decide in January how to kick them off! This last week of the year started on Sunday with an early rise and flight to Shenzhen for kick-off work meeting on Sunday (my fault because I had no other date available, but the client and project team obliged, thanks!), a typical Chinese drink-dinner at night, followed by another early rise on Monday for a 3 hour high speed train trip to Guilin and a 1+ hour road trip to Yanghsuo. Our two day site meeting (also requested by us in view of the Xmas holidays) resolved many issues and saw us flying back via Bangkok on Wednesday. Yesterday and today saw us wrap up the trip and final deliverables for other projects before the holidays.
This trip served two purposes, first we met with a new client for a very exciting new project (design due before Chinese New Year!) and a kick off meeting with the design team at their offices. The client is involved with the China Cup Yachting competition and we are “literally on board” for the lighting design of their hospitality VIP yacht. Due to confidentiality I cannot share any photo’s but is is an exciting project. During the diner later in the evening our client boss made a for me historic statement. He had enough of project that were continuously cost cutting and value engineering, in his opinion we should focus on earning more money! “Stop cutting costs! Let’s try earn more money!” Yeah…way to go! We also used the opportunity to have a catch up design workshop with the same design team with whom we are on another project together, the client graciously making their offices available to us. we did use the opportunity to show of our design skills and called the client in to have a look at our presentations to great admiration…they were duly impressed. Let’s hope we can now fulfil the expectations we have created!
After a short night and a heavy head (from the night before drinking J) we got up in the early hours to catch the high speed train and after 3 hours and another good hour by car we arrived on site in Yangsuo around noon. After the obligatory tour to get a feel of the progress on site we got down to business planning and organising the visual mock ups and reviewing site installation details. While the day time was used to prepare, the night time was reserved for reviewing and signing off on the lighting effects. As the night falls early in the approaching winter, we managed to do the night viewing straight at nightfall with a late dinner afterwards. As in so many projects we are facing a disconnect between the site contractors used to do things the China way and the lead consultants who have “slightly” different standards when it comes to quality and protocols and an “emergency” meeting was called on Tuesday to discuss with the team specifically what is need for reliable dimming for LED’s. The site is still in incandescent phase dimming mode and look at you with a blur look when you start talking about 0-10V protocols (let alone DALI or other!). Our last minute flurry of emails and messages was exactly about trying to resolve all that, but by the looks of it, we will only be a le to do that after the holidays…aaaargh…will they ever learn?
I leave you with some mood pictures of my travel the site and other images giving you a feel of this last week on the road! See you in the New Year some time…
Enjoy your Xmas weekend and a very happy and successful New Year!
Singapore, Weekend 17 – 18 December 2016
This week was fully dedicated to shooting video footage for our corporate video, which we will launch in 2017 together with our revamped website. My daughter Kyra, who runs her own production company Kyramedia, came to Singapore, all equipped, to shoot staff interviews, work sessions, project meetings, site visits and client testimonials which will all find their way into the final edit. She developed a script and storyline that will highlight what we stand for, what differentiates us from the pack and how the client experience of our services have made a difference. It is not an easy task but I have full confidence after this week and having seen some of the footage that she has shot, that we will end up with a corporate video showcasing our capabilities that we can be proud of.
Work sessions, deliverables
During the week we filmed several of our internal work meetings such as work sessions from the various project teams, individual staff at work, drafting, designing, rendering, all these typical activities that make out what we do in our office while showing actual deliverable outcomes on computer etc. One of the key aspects of our services is the creation of lighting design concepts, hence we put quite some attention into showcasing our design process, the sketching, the rendering, the imagery, the modelling and visualisation of spaces including dynamic walk-through. The future of visualisation is truly getting very exciting for lighting.
We also conducted individual interviews of each staff from which we will use relevant outtakes and footage that will give a personalised feel of the company. After all the company is as good as its people and adding the personal touch is critical to reflex the human aspect of the company. Everyone brings something to the company and to our clients irrespective of their position, they all contribute to the final success and to how the company is perceived by others. Being put in front of a camera was also an interesting experience for many and some of the unprepared answers gave us some hilarious moments. Thanks for putting up with it!
Project and supplier meetings
Important aspect of our work are obviously the interaction and communication with our clients, fellow consultants and suppliers. We taped several of these meetings in our office as well as outside. Lighting design is team work and showing of the coordination and consultation with the parties involved in the process of design are therefore very relevant. Actually filming and focussing on this aspect also made us realise how relevant and important this is in our design process.
Since the corporate video and some of the footage will be used on our new website we also organised a coordination meeting with our web designers to make sure it all moved in the right direction. We are equally excited about our new website that is getting into shape. Our website has been around for the last 5 years and the navigation was getting a bit dated as well as the graphics. Time for a new fresh and trendy look! With todays world of social media we have to keep up with the times!
We also took the opportunity to go to site and shoot some footage of our interaction with client and contractors, inspecting the lighting installation works, the testing of lights and making sure lights are properly linked up to the respective lighting controls. We had the suppliers on site as well so we could physically test some samples in their proposed locations and get feedback on improvement options if some of the lighting results were not to satisfaction. In our work it is critical to supervise the installation and hence our project site visits have to feature as part of our service deliverables.
We will also have snapshots of our projects in the video but more as a background or short illustration complement rather than physically making them part of the actual video. Our website will feature these projects extensively so we do not want the video to focus too much on all the projects we have done, but more about the team behind the success of the company.
For this reason we also went to interview some of our clients and collaborators to collect some relevant and valuable testimonials. Most of our work is through referrals so it is logical that client and collaborator testimonials will feature in our corporate video. From a personal point of view it was very nice to hear them highlight what they like about the company, what in their opinion sets us apart and why they like recommending and working with us. Great and motivating stuff! Thanks for those great testimonials!
Annual staff dinner
Fittingly the week ended with our annual staff dinner to which husbands and spouses were also invited, our extended family! It was a great evening in which each individual received an award (also known as the KLD “Oscars”) in recognition of outstanding work and performance by each of the team. It is a great occasion to acknowledge each ones contribution in a relaxed setting this time and a waterside restaurant at Marina Bay. Thanks everyone for the outstanding efforts over the past year!
Enjoy your weekend
Perth, Weekend 10 – 11 December 2016
My last working week in Perth this year, but what an exciting week it was. We are laying the groundworks for next year with new projects in the pipeline and catching up with project clients before their upcoming Xmas break (summer holidays in Australia) was crucial. While the general consensus is that the economies are down and many not sure what the future will bring (including the uncertainty surrounding the incoming Trump administration, Brexit and increased populist movements around the world) there still seems to be a lot in the pipeline. We have our work cut out for the remainder of the year and will definitely end on a high, but securing longevity and continuity for the company in the coming year and years is a constant focus and hence taking the time to meet, catch up and follow up with potential new project clients is a must, certainly now. Often when economies are down, design work is undertaken so that plans and design documents are ready to go when the economies start moving again.
John Glenn and the City of Light
As I write this blog news is breaking that the first astronaut to fly around the earth in the sixties, John Glenn just passed away aged 95. It is specifically significant for Perth as when he flew over Australia at night Perth stood out and he called Perth the City of Light, a nick name that has stuck all those years, even though Paris is now probably more famous for it. The reason that Perth stood out so brightly is that it was surrounded by outback countryside with virtually no other lights for thousands of kilometres. Today Perth is still very much spared from the pollution that many cities suffer throughout the world, we still have beautiful starry nights. I still remember John Glenn’s flight as I remember the first landing on the moon a few years later. I was fascinated by the space race and still have the newspaper cuttings from that time. John by the way went back into space at the ripe age of 77 years to become the oldest man ever to fly in space. See more at the link below:
Lighting Designer Performance Bond?
During the week I received a message from our Jakarta office asking me if I could provide a performance bond, which was a demand by a potential client and to be submitted as part of our fee proposal! From my experience performance bonds are asked from contractors and generally relate to big contracts, not the relatively minute contract of a lighting designer. The performance bond requested was 20%of the fee! We discussed this as I felt uncomfortable and a bit alarmed that a client would ask for a bond. So far we have never had to provide a performance bond as a lighting designer. We have asked suppliers and contractors to provide them as part of tender submissions, but then we are talking about millions worth of contracts, not a few thousand dollars for LD fees. Anyhow we submitted with the statement that a performance bond could be provided on signing of a mutually agreeable contract arrangement. The idea being that if the client does not trust us to deliver, we wanted to make sure that with the provision of the bond we will also have “watertight” terms and conditions in regards to their payment commitments to us. It has to work both ways don’t you think?
Is there a future in wind farms?
During the week I was surprised to read an article in regards to failing wind farms (those who provide energy by huge wind mills) in South Australia. The article claimed that quite often the wind farms broke down (made in China?) or either there was too much (auto switch-off) or not enough wind resulting in an average of only 8% energy being delivered by the wind farms rather than the capacity of 40% that they are supposed to deliver! As a result the article claimed that there was insufficient power available in the grid and assistance from neighbouring states was called in to top up the shortage of energy supply. Big question marks were raised about the future of wind farms, not only because of the failure to deliver, but also because the costs and visual disturbance these monsters create. Having them out at sea out of view is maybe acceptable, but having a forest of these monsters in our natural landscape is another story all together. The judges are still out on this one I guess and personally I am also not sure what to think of it…we do need renewable energy, but can’t we find more ingenious ways to harvest wind energy?
Life on Perth.
During the week we followed up on several projects and had the opportunity to revisit one of our recently completed projects, one that is up for an heritage award, the former Palace Hotel at the corner of Williams and St Georges Terrace in Perth. The architect of the project, Woods Bagot, decided afterwards to move their offices in the building and they did a marvellous job in refurbishing the interiors to fit their architectural studio needs. The building is quickly becoming an icon of the city. We followed up on one of our projects in Kalgoorlie where the client is keen to convert an existing installation into new LED technology, acknowledging in the process the need for expert input to make that transition smoothly. I wish more clients would acknowledge that rather than talk to biased lighting suppliers! The upgrade of the uniting churches in the city to replace and improve the lighting with new LED technology and other lighting features is moving into full documentation and should result in a final package for presentation, approval and implementation go-ahead in the early part of the next year! We look forward to that…
Enjoy your weekend