Lighting design today
Singapore, 17th October 2012
Lighting and lighting design does not stand by itself. It is part of our total visual environment, perception and experience. It comes integrated, and hopefully coordinated, with architecture, interior finishes, materials, colours, shapes, forms and the people using the space. But in practice running a lighting design practice interestingly does not mean you are doing lighting design all the time. On the contrary! Of my total time dedicated to my practice, pure lighting design is probably only about 10% of my time, the rest being dedicated to management, meetings, communication, administration and the like. I think this sounds familiar to many….
Our lighting design skills depend greatly on understanding the environment we design our lighting for. Take the architectural complexity (the Zaha Hadid’s of this world with not a straight line in sight!) or the multitude of shapes, colours and textures that interior designers sometimes throw at us. Sometimes in a double whammy with the F&B specialist who come out with these wacky restaurant themes. Validating these concepts can be quite challenging as contrary to more straight forward spaces, lighting here can really make or break the overall feel and ambience. It really has to become part of the total experience.
It is hard to learn from behind your desk. It takes years of practical field experience to be able to design this properly. It also requires you to understand the (other) designers issues, the clients operational wishes, let alone his financial constraints. Even today, after a lifetime in lighting design I still have my doubts to the end result at times. This has several reason. We can’t control all the elements, many of our lighting design decisions being based assumptions, samples or partial mock ups. But, (assuming we can control the light fitting quality), lighting technology moves and improves so fast (think Iphone1, 2, 3, 4 and now 5 as a metaphor) that our experience with lighting today can be obsolete tomorrow! We are now advocating to wait till the last minute in confirming the final (LED) lighting specifications so we can make sure we have the latest version! How times have changed!
Light Watch 3-159: To give you a feeling of the complexity of our design requirements at time, here are a collection of challenging ceilings. The things we have to deal with at times!