Design and reality
Shanghai, 30th April 2010
When we design our lighting we have all these beautiful images in our mind on how it will look like. When you are developing the lighting concept and you have virtually no constraints and can let your imagination flow, everything is exciting. You get into a dream state on how your project is going to look like. But gradually along the way you are brought back to reality. As the design progresses and the real life constraints and limitations appear (more then often the budget) one after another the dream slowly falls apart, leaving you in the end with a skeleton of what once was this great lighting design that you had envisaged. I dramatize a bit here but in many cases I am not far off the reality.
Today I was confronted with it when I was asked to inspect “our” lighting as installed in a 4 star hotel here in Shanghai. Honestly we had already given up on this project as the client did not follow our specifications, ignored our installation details, all in the name of cost saving. Though we are generally quite flexible and adaptable (isn’t the saying: “the client is king”?), there has to be a limit to what we can accept in terms of quality and performance. In the end we are responsible designers and have to apply our professional expertise in advising the client to make sure the lighting installation is safe, sufficient and able for operation including its maintenance.
What I saw was at times pitiful…Illuminated back panels without any access panels for lamp maintenance, with already lamps visibly failing, chandeliers with exposed non dimmable metal halide lamps in the main lobby (!), badly installed light fixtures such as down lights hanging of the ceiling creating light gaps between trim and ceiling, indirect cove lights showing the irregular messy installation, and so on.
You wonder why they even bother to ask you to come and look…they know what we have to say. But somehow they think we will help them rectify all these problems which now become so apparent…but should we?