The perfect project

Goa, 26th November 2009

To place today in is exactly one year ago that terrorists attacked major landmarks in Mumbai in which many people were brutally killed. During my last visit to Mumbai I visited the famous Leopold Café (of Shantaram fame) where the bullet holes can still be seen in the windows inside the café!  Just a scary reminder of the crazy world we live (and work) in at times.  

This morning at breakfast the project manager, having read my blog, asked me if I had ever done a perfect project…an obvious and burning question as in our world of design we always look out and crave to be involved in that perfect project. My answer was short…NO. I had a few very satisfying projects, but perfect…no. I guess as designers we are never satisfied. We always see things that could have been done better. They may not be obvious to the general public, but it is our job and most of all we know the history of the project…

What is the definition of perfect anyway? “Perfectly satisfying”? Or “perfectly complying to specifications”? For the company CFO it may be “perfectly realized within the budget”. Or does perfect mean you have a total free hand and “carte blanche” in designing and executing your project? Then there is the fact that specifications are only as good as the experience of the person specifying them. Specifying the lighting is one thing but knowing how these lighting specifications will work out in practice is really a matter of experience…a lot of experience. Visual mock ups will help but do we always have the opportunity to do that? Do we control step by step the process of procurement and installation? The reality is… no we don’t. I have had some very satisfying projects, with very happy clients and where the end result was very close to what I imagined when developing the concept. So I would like to venture that the perfect project does not exist…but satisfying projects do.

26. November 2009 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: lighting design | 3 comments

Comments (3)

  1. Martin,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on various aspects one encounters, as a professional lighting designer travelling and observing as much as you do.For me, this provides an insight and a benchmark, which draws on your experience, to move forward and analyse simple professional issues that cross the mind. It also helps to compare the thoughts with a designer who has been a part of the industry for a period just a few years short of my entire life.

  2. Kapil, it is through sharing that we grow! I get my experiences also by sharing and interacting with people like you. Thanks for your reaction.

  3. Dear Martin,

    I totally agree with you on your views on this topic. I would like to rewind myself to suggest you this is true.

    I believe that was in 2002, while was in an internship with Space Scape Architects at Chennai, India. I was assigned to design & manage an Office interior project. Work started at site and i was assisting & managing the carpenters to mold the partitions & furniture as designed. As days passed by one-day i peeped into my Boss cabin and showed my disappointment & frustration regarding the work. I reported him that desired quality & “Perfect” finishing is missing at the site. He told me to be calm and insisted that “Perfect” result cannot me attained but “satisfying” results can be obtained at the end. I cannot understand his comment at that moment.

    But after few months during my send-off party at “Mc-Donalds” in Isphani centre, Chennai, my Boss asked me about the condition of that space. I told him that it’s having a “perfect” design with “perfect” finishes. He kept quiet and after few minutes he asked me to come with him. He taken me to one of the main decorative partition of that restaurant and pointed out me the tile finishes on that. It was really bad & i wondered how come a nice space carries such a bad finished structure amidst. Why didn’t the people rectified the fault i wondered!!

    Then he told “It’s not the way want you want always in design, but it’s the way it had to be sometimes. You cannot always look for perfection in your project. Try to get happiness & satisfaction with what you had achieved finally in your project” . It was like a thunderbolt in my head that time and i still remember this!!

    Sathish Kumar Ananthachari

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