Weekend 12-13th May 2018
Doing the miles…
If any week was busy in terms of travelling it certainly was this week! Leaving last Sunday for Jakarta to attend the Cutting Edge seminar I returned back to Singapore late on Monday, leaving the next morning for my international flight to Male, followed with a domestic flight to Khadedhoo airport and a 30 min boat trip to our project site. Wednesday afternoon it was the reverse back to Singapore, this time an overnight flight arriving at 7am on Thursday. After a quick shower and change of clothes I headed back to the airport for my midday flight to Bangkok for my keynote presentation at the I-Light Connect event at the LED Expo Thailand. As I am writing my blog this Saturday morning, I am in the SQ lounge waiting for my flight back to Singapore…8 flights in 7 days…I certainly did my miles this week, though privileged to do them in comfort. But a satisfying week it was!
The Cutting Edge, Jakarta
This event was organised by Technolite Singapore in collaboration with local supplier Ascendo in a nice of the beaten track venue somewhere in Jakarta. I am not sure where exactly it was, as we were chauffeured around to the venue. Very much focussed on the future of lighting the event brought together some “cutting edge” manufacturers like MaxiLed, EldoLED and LED Linear spiced up with my keynote presentation about the future of lighting design, Lighting Design of Things (LDoT). The event was well attended and on this first day saw developers, property owners, architects and other key players in the industry get updated on the direction lighting and lighting design is moving. The second day (which I did not attend) was more technical and focussed on educating lighting designers and engineers. Well organised and good attendance, well done!
Following my presentation in Jakarta we were invited to meet the site team for the recently opened T3 at Soekarno Hatta Airport, which has very poor and glary lighting! Not sure how that got approved! KLD has been roped in to review, recommend and implement ways to improve the lighting, so we now have an opportunity to also discuss possible integration of IoT functions…Galih has a challenging but exciting task ahead with his Jakarta team! We will gladly support him.
Back in the Maldives for the 3rd time in 4 months, this time for our Raffles Hotel project. A crucial trip which involved all key project members, the owners and the operator for a team review of the mock up villa’s (one beach villa, one sea villa). Getting these right, is crucial for the rest of the project and with top management form both owner and operator present I felt it was important to be there as well. With the tight project schedules decisions (budget! ☹) had to be made on site after the review. Amanda had travelled ahead on Sunday together with the ID to prepare and do the final adjustments prior to our arrival. Even lighting installation details were amended in the short time to improve the experience as per design. Despite having a host of non-complying alternative fixtures with a variety of colour temperatures and different beam angles (courtesy of a Chinese contractor who went ahead without consulting us to buy his own interpretation in China) we managed to show of a reasonable representation of what it will be with all the “correct” lights. With the proper light fixtures in place I am confident it will look great. The challenge now is to assure the client to spent the proper money commensurate with the demands of a 5-star hotel! We certainly have the backing of the operator.
LET 2018 – I-Light Connect workshop
After my short transit in Singapore I arrived in time in Bangkok to participate in the judging panel of the I-Light Connect workshop that saw around 35 participants split in 4 different groups present their lighting installations. The participants to the workshop, a mix of aspiring lighting designers, architects, interior and landscape designers, were give different themes and tools (lighting equipment sponsored by WEEF Thailand) to achieve their design. The day had begun with some theory and design briefings by the workshop leader, renowned Thai lighting designer and university professor, Dr Atcharawan. They then retreated to develop the lighting concept and spent the rest of their time to actually create the lighting installation. The judging panel consisting of the next days seminar key speakers then provided the participants with valuable feedback and expert advice. It is always nice to see how designers with different backgrounds bind together to create and achieve an installation and then present their narrative to explain how they came to do what they did. The installations remained in place along the main hall and provided a great background and relaxation place for visitors to the Expo. Well done to the workshop team and participants!
LET 2018 – I-Light Connect seminar
The next day saw an international program of speakers on different subjects sharing their knowledge and expertise with the seminar participants. I kicked off the proceedings in the morning with my LDoT key note presentation, pretty much identical to my presentation in Jakarta earlier in the week. Lutron (one of our sponsors), gave a little insight on what is cooking in their kitchen of the future followed by CLDA president Lear Hsieh and renowned Chinese lighting designer Carry Yue with a focus on the quality of light and lighting. Moderated by James Wallace, a lively panel discussion with the all the morning speakers, concluded the morning session.
The afternoon session revolved around smart lighting for cities and how to make lighting festivals work, with subsequent presentations from Johan Morritz (chief lighting designer for the city of Malmo, Sweden), Kjell Hult (the former head of Lights in Alingsas, Sweden), James Wallace, (lighting designer and master planner from Perth, Australia) and Dr Atcha with her study on the old Bangkok Town city master plan. James also moderated the sessions and panel discussions. While heavy rain and traffic jam discouraged many to make the trip all the way to the IMPACT expo venue outside Bangkok, we had good response and interaction with the attendees, but there is room for improvement next year!
PLDC Warm up event
The event in Bangkok was also billed as a warm up event to the PLDC Singapore and as the representing committee member I made a pitch for the attendees to join PLDC later in Singapore. the preliminary program was issued to the attendees as a teaser. Attendees to the event who register online will get an additional partner event discount. A reminder to all, the early bird discount registration ends 25th May!
PS: As I am going on leave from next week my blog will be on leave for a little while too…as a compensation, a lot of pictures today😊
Enjoy the coming weekends, see you when I am back!
Jakarta T3 Airport’s horrible lighting…so much room for improvement!
Time for mock up villa reviews, beach and water villa…
the welcome, opening ceremony moderated by Dr Atcha
I-Light Connect event
My key note…
The first panel discussion
Afternoon session about lighting for cities
Singapore, Weekend 5-6th May 2018
Always expect the unexpected…
The week started as unexpected as you can imagine…hardly an hour into the office on Monday morning, our street was hit with a power failure. But while our laptops have a battery and allow us to continue, lights, internet, landlines and air-conditioning stopped working making work rather difficult. We kept our patience for a while as lights and power came back on at times only to fail again after a little while. When a big truck arrived with what looked like a new switchboard cabinet, we got the message and many moved to the nearby Starbucks Café to continue working in a more pleasant environment. I gladly offered for the company to pay for coffees and snacks… When it became clear that power would not be back anytime soon, most decided to head home also with the knowledge that Tuesday (1st May) was a public holiday. Always expect the unexpected…😊
The public holiday was reluctantly but also thankfully (nice and quiet) used by me to put together a complex RFP tender submission for the lighting consultancy for a large-scale project in KL, due by this Fridays deadline. As it had to be physically (hard copies) delivered in Kuala Lumpur we had to make sure it was ready to be couriered by Wednesday. By the end of the day my input for the basic submission documents were all ready for final editing and formatting and I gladly sent it out for the team to complete the submission packages.
Spending a lot of speculative time in preparing submission documents is a decision that is not made lightly. Just because we are keen to get a job does not mean that we accept whatever is thrown at us in terms of submission deliverables. Specifically, after I had read through the hundreds of briefing document pages (more than half with no direct relation to lighting!) I was kind of sceptical about this (new) client. However, the tender interview conference call we had last week appeased me enough to decide to make the effort. Also, the preferred operator lined up for the project is a good friend and I know I can count on his support and recommendation…
Through my China connections I also received a WeChat request to travel at my earliest convenience to Hangzhou (preferably in the next day or so!) at my own costs to meet with a retail chain owner that wanted to meet me before confirming I would get the job to develop a lighting concept for all his stores in China…sounds very attractive right? It would require me to pay for a return ticket Hangzhou including one hotel night, without any guarantee he would actually “give” me the job…My experience is that they love (the idea of) engaging a foreign designer, but most of the time when we start talking about the fees it falls in the water so to speak. So even if the Hangzhou trip expenses are not dramatic in the scheme of things, the uncertainty of success and in my case the time squeeze requirement (basically drop everything and go there) was not really something making me jumping with joy. So I played it a bit differently, keeping the communication going, acknowledging the need to meet (at one point in time), sharing key lighting design considerations of relevance he had not thought of to make him think and confirm the importance of engaging a lighting designer and building up the communication line for information exchange first. I had not even seen any of his shops so at least some pictures and plans would be a fair request before dashing of in the unknown! This approach now seem to work well and as I write this blog the communication line is still in progress, I now have a good feel of what he wants and I can give a fee indication first before I decide to make the trip, or if not me, one of my senior (Chinese speaking designers). If he accepts the fee direction and proposed scope of work at least I will feel more confident that a trip will harvest some good 😊
Our quest for partners in LDoT is continuing and on Wednesday morning (Tuesday late in the USA) I had a lengthy conference call with the executive management of one of our potential IoT partners, a reputable American based lighting control manufacturer. As we are discussing in confidentiality I can not go in details, but it was exciting to hear that we are pretty much on the same page in regards to lighting (design) and the IoT. While present in Frankfurt where I had my initial discussions with them, they had refrained of showing any IoT systems preferring to look around first to see who is doing what while their IoT kitchen is developing recipes at full swing. We have agreed to sign an NDA to further exchange confidential information. With many of our projects potentially a case for implementation of IoT systems, I can’t wait to see what could be possible with this partner in the near future!
Celebrating my birthday with my trusted team at the office was a real pleasure this week. They work so hard throughout the year that being able to just being with them (and not somewhere traveling in a far-away country as has happened often over the years) was really nice. They are sort of my extended family! I will have the opportunity to celebrate my birthday with my “real” kids later this month when I go for my annual leave in France together with my Mum who the day before mine reached the respectable age of 90! Well done Mum, I hope I have your genes and will still drive a car and play golf like you do at that age!
An article in the Singapore Strait Times about disappearing jobs just made me think how quickly our world is evolving. We now live in a world with AI, 3-D printing, driverless cars, robots and drones, virtual reality, social media and fake news and more. For today’s generation perhaps “normal” but for my generation, born in the fifties, when this all sounded like science fiction, it is quite an assault on our mind…just trying to comprehend what it all means and how it impacts our daily life… The artisanal art of making neon tubes for instance is about to disappear, who still makes them? Everything is LED today. So when I read about a new start-up creating a new type of light source, with investments from amongst others, big boys like Amazon, I checked it out. Finally Bulbs they are called, you can find more at finallybulbs.com and if you believe the descriptions, the lights are better than LED, warmer, more efficient, longer life! IKEA for instance seem keen to sell them in their stores. They just have one type but are apparently making a killing with millions sold already!
But also the job of lighting designer as we know it today is on the verge of radical change to allow it to survive. We need to acknowledge that the world is changing and if anything, realise that this change is happening much faster then we might anticipate! Finding the balance between practicing our lighting design as we know it today and adapting to the changes created by the IoT world arriving on our shores is probably the biggest challenge we face today…
The one cent cheque!
Finally something that seemed out of this world today, nothing to do with lighting but typical nevertheless. All lighting designers have bank accounts! Last week I had closed a personal account I had with HSBC and this week (on my birthday actually) I received a cheque for…yes 1 cent! I checked and double checked, but yes it was 1 cent. Some over zealous computer program I assume, had calculated that I was still owed 1 cent (interest I guess) and decided to spent money (writing a letter, printing the letter and issuing a cheque, then putting it in an envelope and post mailing it to me) to make sure they were not indebted to me…the time and money involved! Interestingly when I cleared out the account last week, the amount owed to me ended with 29 cents. When they handed the amount to me I received it with 25 cents. When I asked about it they said they rounded it off! When I argued it should then be 30 cents, they said it was against the company policy. Needles to say I then insisted to receive my 29 cents. It took them nearly 10 minutes to find the 4 extra lose cents! To now receive a cheque for 1 cent seems out of this world! Banks!!!
Enjoy the weekend!
Singapore, Johor Bahru, Zuhai, Hong Kong, Singapore
Weekend 28-29th April 2018
This week was all over the place with trips to Malaysia, China and Hong Kong before flying back to Singapore late last night. This traditionally busy period showed off again this week with meetings and travel that felt like running a marathon. Though I am not a marathon runner, let alone a runner, I imagine this is how it feels when you have to keep on going and stopping to breathe is not an option 😊
PLDC 2018 and LET 2018
Not much to report this week other that we are now moving into developing a concept idea for the PLDC gala dinner. LET 2018 and PLDC 2018 are now officially partner events with both websites advertising the respective events. I may end up with two hats on at LET 2018, one being the program organising IAC hat, the other as PLDC’s steering committee member at this warm up event. It’s all taking shape and we are excited about it.
While in Hong Kong this week I took the opportunity to catch up with Messe Frankfurt in regards to our Lighting Design Agora event in Shanghai. One of the opportunities that have presented themselves is a potential cooperation with the Shanghai authorities in conjunction with SILF. We are currently re-assessing the program theme to fit, so a bit of work ahead to re-develop an exciting program that will be even more attractive to our targeted visitors. More soon!
Early in the week we made a trip across the causeway for our big mixed development project in JB. There are so many components to this project that they decided to split consultants site meetings in 4, one in the morning on Tuesday’s, one on the same day in the afternoon and that each alternate week, though the alternate week is on Wednesdays…sounds complicated, well it is! Basically, two meetings on Tuesday one week, two meetings on Wednesdays the following week…phew. Luckily we do not need to attend them all, only as and when necessary but keeping track which one to attend is probably the challenge. Anyhow it is a nice project, close to “home” and we have launched ourselves fully into the concept design…
Travelling to JB by the way, can be a lottery…last week we managed to reach the meeting within 1 hour door to door, this week it took us 1 hour just to cross the causeway! There is no logic…
Thank god for video conferencing abilities! We were invited to personally attend a tender interview in KL for a new potential project, but the client kindly accepted a video conference instead. Considering our busy schedules, a very welcome gesture. We were grilled about our capabilities, approach and methodology towards this project as well as being able to ask all kinds of clarifications, having previously made the shortlist for this prestigious mixed-use city development. Final decision soon…
In fact, this week alone, we had 4 project video conference calls. All for overseas projects! That is on top of all the project Wechat and Whatsapp groups that are running in the back ground…
Midweek we went to Zuhai, using Hong Kong as our port of call, just an hour’s ferry ride across to visit the ship building site where our luxury hospitality yacht is being built, just south of Zuhai. The aim is to complete the fit out by July so that the yacht will be ready to host VIP’s for the China Cup to be held outside on the Shenzhen waters later in October. It has been a pleasure to work with this client as their only concern is quality and no deviation from specs are being entertained! Quite unusual is China, no arguments about costs, only about quality!
The interior fit out is in full swing, though the pictures below may not show that too clearly. The client is also adamant that no lights are to be installed unless we have reviewed the mounting locations and have signed off! Also very unusual, but of course the correct way to assure compliance with our design! So over the next two months I anticipate several trips to assist with the final fit out and installation.
While reviewing the site progress we had the pleasure to meet the boys from OceanLED, one of the world leaders in manufacturing under water yacht lights, who were commissioning their (blue) lighting installation. I was impressed with their professionalism and expertise. Happy we chose them, can’t wait to see the effect in the water!
Hong Kong and LDoT
On the way back from China I stayed back in Hong Kong yesterday for a day full of meetings with several potential LDoT partners; real estate developers, operators, architects and (data) infra-structure providers. It is very exciting to meet with like-minded people when it comes to lighting and the IoT and our LDoT concept seems to hit all the right notes, opening many eyes of people unaware what lighting can bring them! It’s amazing to see that once you make a decision towards a certain business strategy and mindset, how many new doors and avenues open up! I left Hong Kong last night exhausted from the heavy meeting schedule, but very contented and excited with a bag full of opportunities to follow up on!
Enjoy the weekend!
On arrival project progress meeting first!
the necessary translations during the meeting (in Chinese…)
After the meeting…site inspection!
Exchanging wechat contacts with the contractor 🙂
Checking the progress with our lighting plans
Little group photo…
Back to Hong Kong and the Sky Show
Hong Kong life…small little shops and of course the busy MTR
Singapore, Weekend 21-22nd April 2018
An unexpected week in Singapore, well almost…due to some visa issues I could not travel this week as planned which resulted in an unexpected week without meetings and commitments! But it did not stay like that for long as I took the opportunity to take people up on “catch up” meets and go to Malaysia midweek for a meeting with Gooee, our first knowledge partner for lighting and the IoT. As I am developing our Lighting Design of Things platform (LDoT) this follow up meeting after Frankfurt, was a welcome day away from the office. It was planned at some point in time in the coming weeks but with this opening in my schedule I jumped on it. Later more.
The relatively “free” week also allowed me to finalise details of our LET Bangkok event as well as continue some work on PLDC. Our practice would not be our practice without some unexpected things happening and this week we finally received the RFP for a big project in Malaysia that was supported with so many design briefs and legal documents that we are still studying what is actually relevant towards putting together a complying fee proposal bid. So, what initially looked like a relatively quiet week turned out to be quite intense after all…
We are now really nearing confirmation on our Gala dinner venue and I think it is going to be a nice one, not even known to many Singaporeans. Once we confirm with the venue we will start developing the theme and concept for the night. Our approaches to the government are really slow with many bureaucratic hurdles, even something simple like getting CPD accreditation seems difficult! The team is working hard on all these details. Like always the confirmation of participants is slow and from experience we will see a wave of registrations just before closing date (end of May) for the early bird rate. For those interested you can register here: (https://pld-c.com/registration/). The first PLDC excursions (the glorious Gardens by the Bay and the award-winning Atlas Bar) have now also been confirmed and are now featured on the PLDC website.
We are finalising the participation of the last sponsors as well discussing the details of PLDC’s participation as a warm up event, with a special PLDC night planned on the Friday night after the day’s proceedings. If we can all make it work that will be great! The promotional campaign is in full swing and both internet and social media are now a regular target of the events promotion. Come join us in Bangkok 10-12 May 2018! My presentation will be about, what else…Lighting Design of Things 😊. So, if you want to know more of what’s cooking in the IoT kitchen of lighting design come and listen to my presentation! For more information visit: (http://www.ledexpothailand.com/international-led-summit.html)
The cutting edge – Jakarta
And, as if we I am not talking enough about LDoT, on the Monday (7th May 2018), prior to the Bangkok event, I have been invited to deliver a keynote address in Jakarta at an event organised for architects, interior designers, developers and key specifiers about the future of lighting. It will be a full day seminar about the cutting edge of lighting, which for me means to enlighten the participants about lighting design and the IoT or as I call it LDoT.
So where am I with that, some of you may want to know. We have now secured our domain name www.lightingdesignofthings.com and are developing a platform where clients, lighting industry players and IoT partners can reach out and connect with each other. After all we now live in a connected world so to me it makes total sense. My midweek trip for technical discussions and strategy planning with Gooee energised my thinking again and with that renewed energy I worked on our presentations in anticipation of the meetings ahead with other future thinking lighting and IoT players that are scheduled in the coming time. More on this in the coming months!
One thing seems to emerge from all that. While everyone in the IoT seems to agree that the trend is irreversible, nobody really knows where exactly we are going, let alone what and when things will be possible. The metaphor I use to explain the speed of development is that of the mobile phone…10 years ago on your old Nokia you could only phone and text, today that has become video calling and social media “apping”. But by far most functions have nothing to do with phoning…drawing, photography, gaming, translating, scanning, paying, you name your mobile phone can do it. It’s not difficult to imagine that with lighting we are rapidly moving in the same direction! If we not want to be caught out by another “Kodak” moment we need to make the switch to LDoT…
On my way to Malaysia I used for the first time Singapore’s newest terminal 4 which is beautifully designed and integrates the most modern and smart technologies. I am not a budget airlines guy, but I was certainly impressed! Well done to all designers, including the lighting designers!
Have a great weekend
Male -Singapore, Weekend 14-15th April 2018
When you travel to exotic places people always assume you are on holiday, regardless if you actually go there to work. This week I am back in the Maldives for our Raffles Hotel project upgrade, our first visit to this site that was held up before due to the state of emergency that was issued by the government. It was lifted a few weeks ago clearing the way for us to visit the site…finally. Yes, I took some idyllic travel brochure pictures, but otherwise we had quite an intensive program to settle design issues for the mock up villa and survey all existing areas against the design proposals made from behind our desk. On the spot design is my favourite way to approach renovations as you can not only get a direct feel for the spatial architecture surroundings, but also get a direct feedback from operations in regards to guest behaviour as well as discuss with engineering what the most common issues are they are dealing with. No point in repeating the same mistakes and learn from the problems they are now facing!
The WIFI here is surprisingly good island wide so in between we had a bit of time to attend to general project issues from our luxury villa.
Not much to update on PLDC, we are still in process to source for our final key note speakers as well as the venue for our gala dinner. The excursions are starting to take shape with guided tours confirmed to the award winning Gardens by the Bay and the iconic Atlas Bar, the world’s best new bar of 2017. Getting the Singapore government to participate has been a painful process with little success so far.
Going into the last month stretch…still looking for some final sponsors as L&B, Light Fair and PLDC are eating up all the little bits of budgets for this year, but otherwise we are looking forward to an exciting work shop and speaker program.
For those who have never been to the Maldives it is perhaps interesting to understand a bit more the impact this remote location has on design and implementation. Just imagine a tiny little island with mangrove and palm trees that takes only 5 mins to walk around. A big generator (some are still diesel powered), hidden at the centre of the island surrounded by the staff quarters, provides electricity to the 20-30 villa’s dotted along the beach, hidden in the vegetation. You literally walk out of your villa straight on to the white sandy beach and after a 5-minute swim in crustal clear blue water, you reach the edge of the reef with beautiful marine life. Reef sharks (about 1m), turtles, manta rays, thousands of colourful fish provide a magical, surreal environment. There are also water villa’s, built on stilts over the water, that allow you to experience this even more directly. Now that is the tourist experience…you enjoy that a couple of days, perhaps a few weeks, then you return to the real world.
Working and living
Now people who actually live and work here…absolutely nowhere to go! The staff quarters are hidden in the middle of the island with basic amenities only. They can’t really go to the beach as this is in principle for the guests! They can’t really go to the city for a day out, because (in our case here) they would need to take a 30 min speed boat ride to the local airport and then take a 1-hour domestic flight up to Male. Besides the fact that it is very expensive it’s also quite an undertaking for a few days away. Visiting other resorts wears off after a while as well! Not surprisingly people selected for management roles are psychologically tested before actually been given the posting…it’s quite a personal investment!
Also bear a thought for the engineering and food preparation team that needs to coordinate logistics to keep it up for the guests in terms of maintenance, services and food provisions. There is nothing here so everything has to be ordered in and then flown and shipped to the island.
We had one sunny and two rainy, stormy days! Imagine making a holiday journey, spending USD 2000 a night to find yourself stuck inside because of bad weather…
Consultants and contractors
Now the bit that concerns us…being the design consultant or contractor tasked with the renovation of the property. All seems beautiful from behind your desk, but only once you reach the site, you realise its not all sun shine…as I mentioned literally everything has to be flown or shipped in at extravagant costs. There are no light bulb shops on the island, except one or two “light shops” in Male 500km away, there is nothing. So it has to be imported from either Sri Lanka, India, Singapore or the Middle East. As you can imagine the banking system is also very limited and customs clearance of anything can take a while because of the limited daily cash resources available to clear goods.
We had our lights flown in to Male, but now at the end of the week waiting, they are still awaiting clearance. Because of costs they are likely be shipped for a journey that will take about 2 days by a relatively fast “speed boat”.
The contractor brought in, is from China and while his men are all living on the island, his main concern is logistics of goods to site. Any site issue you have to deal with it on site with the means that you have for the same reasons…
Not surprisingly budgets are through the roof for these kind of projects and success very much depends on very close communication and coordination between the project team members. I can’t emphasise enough the importance to be on site and understand the issues of remote locations! These projects can never be properly designed from behind the desk!
An idyllic location yes, and the experience enriches you, but in terms of work it is as hands on as can be…
Enjoy the weekend (and the pictures…)
Mood pictures, the site currently…
At night…not much definition, poor contrast and glary lights
The mock up villa’s in process
And then the rain…
Singapore, Weekend 7-8th April 2018
A rather interesting week but with typical experiences commensurate with the life of a lighting designer…never a dull moment :). We are at the start of what is traditionally a very busy season of the year and just looking at my travel schedule is already scary…Male, Perth, Hong Kong/Shenzhen, Penang, Jakarta and Bangkok in just the coming 3-4 weeks! And that is just me…the rest of my team is also on the road…
Several fee proposals are in final stages of negotiations and if they come through we will have our work cut out over the coming months! A happy problem as they say, so no complains. Add to that my “other” activities with the IAC, PLDC, the development of our LDoT platform as well as preparing for my speaker engagements in the coming months and you can see that there are a hype of activities going on!
We are getting close to securing the venue for the gala dinner, now waiting for the PLDC team to decide on the go or no go. We are looking into nominating some warm up events in the lead up to the main event in October as well as engaging with the government, associations and universities to secure possible participation in the pre-convention meetings in regards to a smart cities and educators forum…still a lot of work to do! The main speaker program is confirmed, now we are looking at securing the key note speakers. Arjan de Boer, who stole our hearts with his presentation at our Shanghai International Lighting Fair – Lighting Design Agora event last year was this week confirmed as our first keynote speaker.
LET Bangkok and SILF Shanghai
With the IAC I am also directly involved in the organisation of I-Light Connect in Bangkok this coming May and the Lighting Design Agora in Shanghai in September. The Bangkok event is finalised, invitations sent out and attendance arrangements being organised. In Bangkok I will be delivering in my first Light Tech-Talk, loosely based on the TED talks, in which I will be presenting my vision in regards to our Lighting Design of Things ™ (LDoT) about the future of Lighting Design and the IoT. For those able to attend, please join us 10-11 May. The Shanghai event is also shaping up to be an exciting event. More news over the coming months.
Projects and projects
There are projects and projects and until you start a project you generally don’t really know what is in store for you. Yes from background research or previous experiences you can anticipate how projects will go, but event within the participating client representatives and project consultants things may vary from person to person! This week was a typical example of extremes in the various projects that we are currently servicing.
Poor project management
We all suffer from it at times in two of my projects this was blatantly on display this week, both newly started projects. We had recently been appointed for a multi building infra-structure and façade lighting project in Johor Bahru, just over the causeway from Singapore, but contractual matters took a while to settle. Just before our trip to Frankfurt the contract was signed off and of course when the kick off meeting was requested we were in Germany! No issue, a new date was set on our return. However, we had yet to receive the drawing and detail package from the architect to get started. The client asked us to present the full concept on our first meeting, also in general no problem, but with the meeting scheduled this week on Wednesday time was getting tight. We received the drawings finally by COB last week literally leaving us only two days to work out something. For the sake of continuity (and the fact that I was actually available to go to this kick off meeting) we forged ahead and put a decent concept on the table that was well received. However as I had already informed the client it was just a direction as we had not been able to coordinate anything with the architect, let alone make sure the concept was financially viable. During the meeting the client told us the budget and after forewarning them we worked out later in the week that the budget needed would probably be 10x more! It is so important to be clear about budgets and have sufficient time to coordinate that with the team before presenting!
The other project (a hotel resort renovation and upgrade in the Maldives) had been held up by the recent state of emergency, but poor communication from the client resulted in no-one being able to be on site for coordination at the same time, with the mock up room to be ready next week! The landscape consultant is there this week, we are going next week, the interior designer the week thereafter and the operator sometimes thereafter…so much different with our other Maldives project (same operator, different client) where everything is well coordinated with short turn arounds between the team members. The first I am sure will struggle to complete within the time schedules with “holes” in the final end result, the latter is on course to become an award-winning resort!
To the point or forever dragging on…
Related to this are projects where the management team is either in control (generally top management is involved) or dragging on for ages (read years!), generally the result of junior management trying to overdo it. Our golf resort project in Desaru is one of those. Technically completed 2 years ago we are still assisting the client in the defects and liability rectifications and would you believe that 9 trips to site later it is still not completed! Hopeless contractor, incapable management. This week I informed the client that we no longer would follow up…
In contrast our cool and hip city hotel project in KL with award winning interior designers Neri & Hu, has been a pleasure to work for. Grace went to KL this week to start the first phase of the testing and commissioning with another round to go later in May before the official opening. Attentive project management, dedicated contractor, great client… a world of difference! Below some mood pics shot by Grace during her first round of aiming, focussing and commissioning work.
Can’t wait to see the completed end result, well done to the team!
Have a great weekend!
the difference aiming and focussing can make…right before, left after aiming the lights
Singapore, Weekend 31-1st April 2018
After hardly a day in the office on Monday, quickly catching up with my team, it was off to Shanghai the next day and with this Friday being a public holiday, that was the rest of my week done. I flew to Shanghai for a long overdue design coordination meeting and site visit for our Xitang project, that had kindly been postponed in consideration of our Frankfurt trip. For those who do not travel often (to China) for projects, let me share some of the typical experiences that were on show this trip this week. For some of you this may bring a smile of recognition on your face…
First let me state that we are lucky with this project client, he respects our expertise (we are the only foreign consultant!) as we were brought on board on recommendation of the interior designer with whom we have completed several other projects successfully (recently our award winning Alila Yangshuo project). The client takes care of my business class flights, pays the full hotel bill, makes sure you are well fed and provides a driver for all transportation needs. Everything is really well take care off, which does make you feel respected and appreciated as the lighting expert.
One note to make is to be careful having your client pay directly for your flights. While it makes sense from administration point of view (no upfront costs) you have to realise you relinquish control of your flights. It has happened to me before that my client wanted me to stay longer and unilaterally (without even consulting!) change my return flight! No complaints with this client here though.
Expectations and anticipation
With the high recommendation also comes great expectations. As a “foreigner” the rest of the Chinese team looks at you expecting some special magic and “big” deliveries every time you present or utter your opinion. I have learned my lessons in the past, even if you have not much to present or update, make sure that whatever you bring along or present is well prepared and more then they expect. For that reason, we did spent the little time we had on Monday putting together a neat presentation, spruced up with some “never before seen footage” 😊. China is very much a country of quantities and quality is often measured by the quantity of your delivery.
Meetings and the blame game
Knowing what the client and the team around the meeting table expect is half the battle won. While our design update was not much I felt grateful my team had put together more than was expected even attracting some applause at the end of our presentation. By anticipating their expectations, we had delivered right on the dot.
Chinese meetings can be pretty nasty and weak presentations are pounded on directly. Two reasons why that happens, first because people like to show off, so being able to find fault in others somehow shows you as knowing what you are doing. Secondly, focussing on others weaknesses diverts attention from yourself if you know you have not done your “homework”. By anticipating and preparing well you can avoid being “blamed” for poor deliveries.
In these “Chinese” meetings specifically hierarchy is very important. The boss comes in last, when every one is seated and should the bosses’ boss come in later on, we duly start back from the beginning. The more important you are the closer you sit to the boss. Often there are second rows of subordinates sitting behind their project principals. I have often questioned about why they are there then being there to see how “important” their boss is. That the boss answers his mobile phone in the middle of your presentation is a show of his superiority. It is not difficult to see how inefficient these meetings can be. Add in my case the translation aspect (adding extra time to translate back and forth from English to Chinese) and you will have no problem understanding that we needed our two full days in meetings, including the regular summaries and recaps 😊
Sneaky ways to save money
Money is a universal human driver around the world but in my view never so prominent as in China. Anything for a dollar I have said before. It is always on display when they ask us to approve samples. The contractor is normally the one trying to save money and he will lure you to approve the cheapest light fittings. We were asked for the same during this trip as well. We had done some value engineering prior and were expecting to see all options, but when we were shown the “samples” we were only shown what looked like the low-end range. This also tends to happen in mock up rooms were they sneakily install the cheap alternative hoping you will not notice and approve it 😊.
What was touted as IP65 or so rated fitting did not look like it. On questioning their testing procedures, we were told it was done inhouse…ah, I see, ok so it has to be ok then…I have seen these tests in Chinese factories…I can tell you its not a certified test!
Wining and dining
Finally no trip is complete without wining and dining, a part of the culture even though it has been under heavy scrutiny by the government. We had our fair share of that as well with bottles of expensive wine and Moutai going by the dozens! There are techniques to survive that, but these are stories for another time!
Have a great Easter weekend!
Here are some impressions of our trip. The project will complete in December but already some parts are looking good…
Netherlands, Weekend 24-25th March 2018
After an average of nearly 15,000 steps a day according to my Samsung Fit Pro Watch (yes, I succumbed to it…) I am now recovering from the L&B, Frankfurt 2018 experience at my mum’s place in Holland. With our manufacturers meetings and booth tours planned every 30 mins to an hour over 3 days, it felt well organised but very intensive, with hardly time to breathe…
Light & Build 2018
Our mission with the team was to find out what is cooking in the manufacturers kitchen specifically in regards to smart lighting and the IoT. In 2 weeks’ time back in our Singapore office we will have an innovation workshop with the team to debrief and convert what we have seen into useful concepts and potentially new lighting design strategies.
It was interesting to note that there was actually very little on IoT with many still focussing on tuneable (circadian) lighting, albeit with some smarter controls. Human Centric Lighting still seems to be a focus for many, but from my point of view as lighting designers we have always been designing with people foremost in mind adapting to the new technology opportunities along the way. What I was really expecting (read: hoping) to see was the way IoT is finding its way into lighting. Many talk about it but besides a handful of the bigger companies there were little new players of note. The usual suspects like Philips, Samsung, IGuzzini, Xicato are openly promoting the new age of IoT but for most the commercialisation is still some time away, though many pilot projects are currently on the way.
To satisfy my curiosity I attended a Philips seminar about the IoT moderated by Paul James (Arc Magazine) but felt that the discussion was rather observational in nature with the president of the IALD (one of the panel members) even having a sceptical wait and see stance towards the IoT. Personally, I feel this is a Kodak moment year, where you need to embrace the IoT and you jump in to see how lighting design can remain relevant by making sure the lighting designer retains overall control when lights are the host to sensors and other data infra-structures. Failing to do so may result into lighting designers left behind at the train station with the IoT train already leaving the platform. Already we were recently confronted by a client appointing a smart consultant (instead of the lighting designer!) to deal with the necessary smart lighting systems! I am just saying…
Interestingly big players like Philips, Zumtobel and Osram are now all openly promoting Light as a Service. We are exploring this as part of our own services profile as well these days and while most of these are still pilot projects, they may well become mainstream soon. Couple of years ago no one had heard of Uber or AirBnB, now it is a s mean stream as it can be…
Overall, I did not feel a lot of excitement on the fair this year, certainly not in regards to the IoT, but there are distinctively things cooking in many kitchens…new developments coming to a screen near you soon!
Meeting my followers
I would like to pay tribute to the many of you who follow my blog. I had the pleasure of meeting some of you in person (you know who you are!) which was a very gratifying experience. As I write my blog and share my experiences as a lighting designer I don’t realise how I affect others in the industry, but meeting some of you personally at L&B this year and hearing your stories on how my blogs have impacted on your lives and provided inspiration and motivation to carry on in the lighting industry was very humbling! Thank you for coming up to me and sharing!
Light & Build in pictures
The best way to share my impressions of the 2018 L&B edition is through pictures. Here is a snapshot. It is by no means complete, as I did not “snap” a pic everywhere I went. Some more possibly in the weeks to come.
Have a great weekend and for those who went to L&B speedy recovery!
Some smart & IoT manufacturers: Gooee/ Artemide/ Philips/ Samsung/ Xicato/ IGuzzini/ AEC/ Selux/ Filix/ Soraa
Above the Philips IoT seminar
Below, the wonderful world of Coelux, artificial skylights
Virtual reality at IGuzzini; a very interesting immersive experience!
…and the Iguzzini party
Acoustic lights, several companies developed acoustic panel lights
Signing of one of my projects at the Luci stand:
With my team at the Asia Pacific Dinner organised by IGuzzini
Images of Frankfurt and the Luminale
Vienna, Weekend 17-18th March 2018
This weekend my blog is coming to you from Vienna in Austria. I am here with my team in the lead up to L&B that is starting from this Sunday. As we have done in the past, we tag one or two factory visits to our L&B schedule and this time we decided to visit the XAL factories in Graz and Slovenia, with Vienna as our port of call prior to Frankfurt.
Designers from our Perth, Jakarta and Singapore office convened in Frankfurt from where we took a connecting flight to Vienna mid-week. Once in Vienna we joined an international group of about 40 people, a mix of XAL suppliers , interiors designers, architects and of course lighting designers from countries as diverse as India, Indonesia, Singapore, China and South America.
No update on PLDC this week, we will catch up at L&B next week.
Vienna, XAL and Zaha Hadid
Our first stop in Vienna was to visit some of the XAL projects in the city with as highlight the Zaha Hadid designed main campus building at the University of Economics and Business. The masterplan had called for different architects to design different zones at the university campus and the result is a very interesting mix of architectures. A professional architectural guide provide historical and architectural background information about the campus with the XAL boys providing the lighting input. Later in the evening, those who were not too much affected by jetlag enjoyed a tour of the historic ancient city centre. Having never been to Vienna before (yes. unbelievable I know) I really enjoyed the majestic palaces, museums and historic buildings, most of them beautifully and tastefully lit. The history drips from the buildings…you can just imagine how it would have been centuries ago, certainly when you hear the horse and carriages click-clack on the cobble stones. Many of the historic architectural buildings, though oozing a distinct different feel, certainly reminded me of my beloved Paris.
Graz, XAL head quarters
The next morning we departed early for our 2 hour bus trip to Graz where we were warmly welcomed by the XAL team. We toured the premises that now mostly functions as the head office with the sales, design and development team, together with the technical testing and measuring labs. All testing and certification of light fixtures I understood is done in-house. In the afternoon we engaged in a lively presentation of both the XAL products as well as the Wevre & Ducre range, now also part of the XAL family. The Nano series particularly are a very interesting product development excelling in its compactness, miniaturisation and versatility. XAL’s strength typically are in the corporate, commercial retail and lifestyle applications. One of the main reasons for choosing to do this trip to XAL is to get a first-hand touch and feel of the product capabilities as till recently we had not used much of them in our specifications. It is often about what and who you know and I believe that this trip will reinforce our knowledge and confidence in this brand. Establishing a direct relationship with the team behind the product is critical to our success.
On my question whether XAL is moving into the future in terms of controls and smart systems I was pleased to see that their Zigbee driven infra-structure is taking shape most promisingly. With KLD’s drive towards LDoT an important development for us to note.
In the evening we adjourned to a winery for an increasingly joyous dinner and wine tasting. We certainly could not fault XAL on their hospitality! Luckily the bus driver did not drink…😊
XAL Manufacturing, Murska Sobota, Slovenia
Our last day was reserved for the main factory about an hour’s drive from Graz just over the border in Slovenia. Government incentives and other tax breaks had lured the family company to establish the manufacturing there and after the latest expansion that started operation last year, XAl can now boost about an 11,000m2 production facility. With a double digit yearly growth the companies turnover last year reached about 115 Million Euro’s, quite an achievement. With the latest robotics warehousing and component storage, top of the range machinery and powder coating/ painting facilities the factory looked everything you would expect from this high quality brand. With personal explanations from the factory manager himself we got a close up understanding on how products are manufactured, treated and assembled. Amazing that up to 3000 to 4000 different product variants are being produced every month…
A big thank you to the XAL team led by Xavier Nieto, for going out of the way to make this visit meaningful. It certainly was for my team…
Next week, Light & Build!
Weekend 10-11th March 2018
Another busy week, no let-up in sight and with the team flying off to Europe next week to attend Light & Build and do some factory visits in conjunction, there was a lot of pressure to get as much done as possible before we leave as the office will be in a virtual close down for nearly 10 days with just a skeleton team in attendance. This meant a lot of project meetings and rushing to complete design packages for submission to clients before we leave.
This week was busy too with visiting a few more potential venues for the Gala Dinner. One in particular is our favourite, a unique and totally unexpected venue, even for Singaporeans! Fingers crossed we can make that work. We confirmed the lighting designer for the gala dinner and had initial communications/ discussions with the Singapore government agencies to explore cooperation in pre-convention events. It’s a slow process as we mill through the bureaucratic layers, we are getting there. One of the key opportunities we are exploring is to make the convention eligible for CPD points and for that we had our discussions with the Singapore Institute of Architects…I have to say I did not realise the intensity of my involvement when I agreed to be the local steering committee member…but I am enjoying the challenge!
As we are moving our services towards the Lighting Design of Things with IoT becoming a key factor in many client’s decision making, we have now a few projects that offer genuine prospects to put our knowledge and expertise in lighting and the IoT to the test. Through partnerships and cooperation with IoT leaders in the lighting industry we are now genuinely working on our first IoT project, a big multi-level corporate office. We are keen to see what can be offered and which of the options the client will want to incorporate. It is an educational process for all involved, us, the client and the lighting systems provider.
Philips IoT Leader
One of the market leaders in lighting and the IoT is Philips. A recent research by Navigant Research put Philips at the top of the leader board (see graph below). Not surprisingly our team went for an educational and inspirational trip to Philips brand new headquarters in Toa Payoh this week to get ourselves updated on the latest state of the art lighting IoT progress as well as visits their lighting application centre showing the latest smart products and systems. Seeing is believing, so this trip allowed us to physically see it for ourselves. A follow up will be done at the Philips stand in Frankfurt at L&B. We had live demonstrations of the Luminous Walls, Patterns and Carpets and got ourselves updated with the latest smart systems in outdoor sports, the public realm, façade lighting and lighting for hospitality. In a conference room environment, we experienced the demonstration of smart IoT functions integrated in light fixtures. It is clear that IoT is no longer a dream or concept but a reality that can already been proposed to clients. While many IoT challengers are still in pilot project stage, Philips has moved into the real lighting market with commercially available solutions.
LiFI a reality
We were privileged to experience as one of the very first lighting design practices to get a life demonstration by Philips of LiFi in action. While it is still confidential it will be revealed at Light and Build so I am not breaching much confidentiality by sharing the news…we experienced first-hand how lighting points provide a seamless internet connection. There is still much to be developed as now the data transfer still occurs in the visible light spectrum. It is not a secret that those active in this field of LiFi are researching ways to move the data transfer to the invisible part of light (infra-red) so that visible light can be switched off without interrupting the LiFi transmissions. One of the LiFi producers already manages its data uploads in this spectrum. We saw it in action and there is no doubt that it is not a matter of if but when that LiFi will be the common way to transfer internet and cloud data in interior spaces. I think it adds a really exciting new prospect to our lighting designs…
Have a great weekend!