Money and quality
Chengdu, 4th May 2010
Today I traveled to Chengdu, about 3 hours flight west from Shanghai to attend to a project design workshop. During the flight I kept thinking back about my visit to the Expo and what I saw in regards to lighting. I mentioned yesterday that I felt that there was a real missed opportunity to showcase lighting as a sustainable energy consumer. Maybe I was expecting too much on the back of visiting the Light + Building Fair in Frankfurt….
But besides the sustainable energy story, I have two major concerns which are basically summarised by the title, money (budgets) and quality, a recurrent and constant issue in China. I encounter it daily in my work. But I think it is a pity that it has also creped into the World Expo, a place where China wants to showcase its technological prowess. Rather then focussing on some quality lighting installations it feels like too much has been cramped into the Expo site. When I saw the opening ceremony I didn’t know where to look and as a result could not understand the story or concept that was being painted with light. A good visual feast is not always about quantity but more about quality. So while the actual budget may not have been an issue the quality got lost somewhere inside the quantity.
This is also reflected by the physical quality of the lights. It does not take an expert to notice that the LED lights are already starting to fail at some major locations. I know this is only a temporary exhibition, I know that preference is given (and with good reason) to local manufacturers and suppliers, but does that mean that quality has to suffer?
This is one of my continuous bones of contention in Asia in general. Sure the public may not mind, in fact they may even accept it as part of life here. They are being dazzled by the cacophony of lights and colours…who cares whether some lights work or not…but to us it is very visible and a measure of the quality standards and my fear is that come the end of the Expo it will even be more visible.