The week that was 2-6 March

Singapore, weekend 7-8th March 2015

Monday 2; Sydney – Balancing act
Being able to balance business and private family life is something that is crucial and a challenge for anyone and not easy by any count. It becomes easier if you are more in charge of your life business wise and privately, but many of us don’t and I certainly had very difficult times in balancing my private and business life when I just started my own business many years back. When you run your own business as a start-up are the sole bread winner and have a family (of 3 school going kids!) to support I can tell you that is a challenge. In order to support my family I made (developing) the business and hence bread on the shelf my priority, which was not fully understood my then wife who for very understandable reasons needed my support as well. I felt I was doing the right thing but ultimately it costs us our marriage. Looking back I still don’t know whether I made the right decisions, that is hindsight, but now with my business doing well and an understanding partner who earns her own way professionally, life and decisions regarding the balancing of business and private seems easier and a no brainer. I am in Sydney today and tomorrow in support of our private life, putting business a bit on the back burner. Having said that I acknowledge everyone engaging this challenge on a daily basis, I hope it all works out for you as a good balance is key to joy and success in life!

Tuesday 3 Sydney – Responsibilities
While I am spending some quality family time here in Sydney, I am following some of the project developments via Skype and email (what would we do without internet!) and note one issue in particular which came floating back to the surface and which I blogged about before…where do the responsibilities of the lighting designer start and where do they end? This “agreement” is often a grey matter that maybe roughly laid down in the terms and conditions of your contract and scope of works but when the going gets tough the tough gets going as they say. While responsibilities in relation to technical light fitting specifications are pretty straight forward, it becomes a bit more dicey when they border on disciplines that are not our core competence, like electrical safety, material suitability, structural strength etc. While we are responsible for the light fitting in a cove are we responsible for the architectural execution and safety of it, likewise in a decorative chandelier design and manufactured by a specialist manufacturer are we responsible for the heat management, the structural and electrical safety of the complete chandelier. We select the light source/fitting, recommend its performance and quality criteria, its preferred way of integration inclusive some other issues like colour and preferred material characteristics in relation to lighting effects to be achieved. But does that make us overall responsible of that particular architectural cove or chandelier? I believe that we have a great role to play in its final appearance and installation but ultimately I would say that the contractor or manufacturer producing the end product has to take final responsibility!
On a private note: Happy  birthday Alex!

Wednesday 4 Sydney – Making light waves visible
Light is not visible; we don’t see light we see reflections. However modern technology in photography has now made it possible to visualise light by showing it as particles and waves. As I was flying back to Singapore I am catching up on my reading and came across this article where this breakthrough photography was reported. The way they manage to capture this is a bit too complicated for me to understand in detail, it talks about nanowires, electrons and photons hitting on each other and creating energy exchanges that are visible to the eye (camera) and hence show the nature of light through quantum mechanics. Light has always been a fascinating medium, invisible when it travels through air, making things visible only when it hits an object.; lucky it is that way, imagine we would see the light waves as it travels through space our visual environment would be an absolute chaos! While using smoke or fogging to show light beams is a spectacular way to create some added effect I think we should be blessed that we cannot actually see the light! How difficult would that make our profession of lighting design!

The report was published in “Nature Communications” dated 2nd March 2015 If interested you can read u via  this link: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150302/ncomms7407/full/ncomms7407.html

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Thursday 5 Bandung – The (inexperienced) optimist
I am back to site for the same project as last month with the same problems still not resolved. While the client optimistically believes that he will be able to open the hotel in another 3 months any trained professional who has done hotel openings before will see that this is at least another 6-12 months before any form of opening can be envisaged. There is still far too much to be resolved and completed. The problem is the client himself, first of all they have no experience in opening a 5 star hotel property built from scratch, this is their first major foray into this market. They built their wealth I understand through banking (they own a bank), the textile industry and residential developments, but that does not make them knowledgeable to develop these kind of projects. They kind of acknowledge that by appointing professionals including myself as lighting consultant. However his focus is on quantity (not quality) with little understanding in regards to money that is needed to achieve this level of projects. Hence we end up redoing the same thing over and over again (cheap-cheap) rather than spending the correct amount of money for good acceptable quality. Today I had a few of these issues. The client had gone ahead purchasing the linear lights specified from his friend at undoubtedly cutthroat prices…the result each badge of the same product has a different intensity, different colour, in other words no two of the supposedly same products are actually looking the same. This is going to be fun when installed! Not even mentioning the potentially short lifespan and quick depreciation that is to be expected. When I confront him with this then he says ok we can change! Then why purchase this rubbish in the first place? I guess in his optimistic outlook he was hoping I would approve it. Will he ever learn?

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Friday 6, Bandung – The weakest link
With this client it is not surprising that we will undoubtedly run into problems with dimming the (cheap) LED light fittings. Today I discovered another way in regards to the length he will go to hopefully safe some money. I had already managed to convince him to buy my down lights as specified. However on testing the dim ability of the lights with the dimming system he had purchased without consulting me (from his “friend” no doubt) it appeared the lights could NOT be dimmed, what??? Further investigation learned that he had indeed purchased the desired down lights however in an attempt to save money had followed his friendly suppliers’ advice and changed all the drivers from the specified one to some local alternative, no doubt cheaper than cheap. Confronted with the situation he agreed to sent all drivers back to his friend and replace them with the proper ones…why not do it right in the first place. The investigation also brought up another potentially serious issue.  All electrical connections between junction box and driver where twisted wire taped together not even using a proper termination block! Having discovered that I instructed the lectrical contractor too make sure that proper electrical connectors be used!  Any installation is as good as its weakest link and this one potentially could well become that weakest link if not properly addressed!

Have a great weekend!

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The week that was…

07. March 2015 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: light watch, lighting and culture, lighting design, lighting design practice, lighting of the future | Leave a comment

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