Owning up to mistakes

Singapore 21st October 2010

I challenged myself yesterday to blog about my mistakes so I should own up and share some with you. That is how I learned the trade anyhow. You have to go through mistakes in order to grow and mature as a lighting designer. But they don’t need to be all yours! A keen observer also learns from other peoples mistakes. Part of us is trained to observe the world around us and analyse assess and appreciate the lighting we see. Criticizing is always a tricky thing as we generally don’t know the history, so I principally refrain from criticizing other people’s work. When it comes to ourselves we just hope that the mistakes we make can be easily corrected and have little impact…

There a different categories of mistakes. Here are a few. Some of my early classic ones are related to scale and proportions. I ever specified a decorative ceiling fixture purely based on the catalogue image without checking its dimensions. When I came to site it looked totally out of proportion and had to be replaced. In another situation I drew a 1:100 scale lighting layout in a 1:50 scale drawing…that does not really work! Always check scale and dimensions!

A critical mistake and an easy trap to fall in, is specifying a light fitting without ever having seen its lighting effect. We are always in a rush and purely selecting a light fitting based on catalogue images (and supplier’s sweet talk!) can result in some embarrassing situations. It has happened to me in the past that the installed product was a far cry from expectations. Now I implore my staff to get a sample first and make sure they physically assure themselves they are satisfied with the lighting effect. Once you have installed 200 pieces and it does not perform it’s a bit too late!

Last but not least I made mistakes in specifying the correct quality of light. In a project not even so long ago we had specified in-ground light fixtures and assumed walk over would be enough. We should have realized that cars (and busses) would be driving over them as well. Not surprisingly we received calls not long after installation about cracking light fixtures. If not for the gallant help of the supplier who replaced them foc, we would have been in trouble. The lesson…never assume…

21. October 2010 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: Education, lighting standards | Leave a comment

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