The week that was 20-24th April

Singapore, weekend 25-26 April 2015

Monday 20; Singapore – Out of the box
There is creativity and creativity…we proud ourselves on being creative lighting designers, certainly not “engineers” and that is what our clients like about us, our ability to think out of the proverbial box. But sometimes this creativity ends up to take on unexpected and perhaps strange forms. Bear in mind that our lighting design is always a cooperation with other key consultants, mostly architects, interior designers or landscape consultants. In this particular case the architect cum interior designer for a high end residential project wanted a bit of an “out of the box” lighting design for the ceiling by just using down lights. While we were not convinced about the proposed concept we went along with it, but with the design now installed I am wondering if it makes any sense. The client seems to like it, at least so I believe, so that is not the issue but this more about my own appreciation of the design that we supported and help create. Note that it will come with a pendant and matching interior design furniture layout. Judge for your self…

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Tuesday 21, Singapore – Interpretation
There are projects that start one way and finish another way then envisaged. In of those projects we did all the ground work from concept to design development to all technical documentation for tender. Then the client decided that the contractor appointed to do the actual fit-out, would be responsible for the implementation including their own interpretation of the design specification. In other words they are to take our design intent specifications, interpret these and then come up with their own “design” solutions. The only catch being that we will have to approve it. To make matters more complicated the project has been split into two package so we have two contractors. Considering the fact that I had specified lighting fixtures (pendants) as a feature throughout the building, I am now facing contractors who are interpreting the pendant design totally differently? My dilemma being who will I follow, one or the other as I am quite convinced I have to maintain unity throughout the building so I am likely to impose one of the solutions on to the other contractor…always expect the unexpected…

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pendant 1

pendant 3

Wednesday, 22 Nanjing – Smashing pumpkins
After an overnight flight to Shanghai and a fast train ride to Nanjing I have arrived at one of our hotel project sides for a mock up room (MUR) review. Fellow consultants and operator from China and Singapore have all arrived in town so this is one of the rare occasions that the whole team is together. We spent the afternoon doing the initial reviewing prior to the joined inspection scheduled for tomorrow. While my team had been on site 2 months ago we had not yet been in a position to review the lighting and (not surprisingly here in China) the contractor had done their own thing with their own interpretation of our specifications. They had sent us some alternative samples a while ago, but we had rejected them with comments on how to improve quality and performance. While I could see that the lighting layout was right, the overall lighting effects was lacking due to much poorer performance and visual quality (intensity, light distribution, light fitting size). The owner / investor of the project who put his personal money in this venture was obviously on edge as he wants this to be a success but relies on his team (project manager/ contractor) to get there. Later at night during the dinner the drinks got the better of him and, possibly unaware of the shortcuts that his own site team had taken towards beating the budget for brownie points, started a drunken rant towards his consultants which felt were responsible. It ended in a round of smashing empty cognac glass on the table after drinking them in an expression of showing off his anger. It just reminded me how alcohol can totally transform people as the next morning he was all cheers and smiles, possibly not even remembering any of the previous night’s dishonourable conduct. It was not the first time I have experienced this so I just let it blow over my head and sat tight. The project’s end-result will be great; it has all the markings of it!

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Thursday, 23 Nanjing – MUR Review
Today we had the official review of the MUR and after all expressions of frustration last night and the late night’s work (we went back to the site to finalise the lighting) when all the dust had settled the MUR looked great. For a first shot it looked outstanding and with minor tweaks (improving the lighting quality and performance) it will look stunning, with million dollar views; an award winning project in the making, at least I think so. I particularly like the simplicity of the controls, something we have been working on in several of our projects now. One control panel at the entrance that provides the master switch, a number of scenes (including day and night time mode) as well as an overall up and down dimming option; no other switches in the room. The hotel will provide an additional IPad with lighting controls for the “geeks who want some further play with light but otherwise without it, it is clean and simple. I love it, way to go. What I learn most of these reviews is the synergy of lighting and architectural interior design, when it gels, it gels, even if the lighting quality still is to be improved; the feel was there. I have done many MUR’s in my life; sometimes the design team gets it right straight away, sometimes it can take many revisions, my record experience is 8 times! Most of the time it is the stinginess of the client that is at the origin of success or failure; quality pays; as clearly was proven here again!

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Friday 24 Shanghai – Human Bowling
I made my way back to Shanghai for meetings and catch up with my local team at the office and like the trip to Nanjing, the way back was a great experience in “human bowling”.  For those familiar with busy cities with a lot of people the “human bowling” refers to the fact that you can’t really move around without bumping into people. The more people there are, the lesser people seem to be considerate. No-one really wants to go out of the way keeping their line and so inevitably and constantly being on a collision course with someone else with the same inconsiderate mind. We took the high speed train both ways and walking through the humongous train stations of Honqiao and Nanjing, both looking like huge airport terminals, bowling your way through the thousands of people. It is understandable therefore they keep the platforms empty till just a few minutes before the train’s arrival. The huge train station’s platforms look eerie and empty when you descend on them in comparison of the loud and stuffed waiting areas with hundreds of people trying to push their way in front of you as if you are not there. You have to give it to the Chinese, their railway system is impressive and with high speeds of 300km/hr the trip from Shanghai is just one hour! But once a full train of sometimes up to 2000 people unloads and mixes up with other train loads of people (and vice-versa) you get an unbelievable bowling alley. The Shanghai underground at peak hours is much of the same… as I write my weeks of adventures I am sitting in a spacious and comfortable seat high up in the sky on my way back to Singapore…have a great weekend.

PS: On an interesting lighting note, the Shanghai and probably other cities undergrounds as well, have this long LED screens on which images move along with the train at the same speed…I first though they were multiple images displayed on a multitude of screens, but no, they are running images, running at the same speed as the train. I had to rub my eyes a few times to understand its working…very clever!        

The week that was…

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25. April 2015 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: Light and inspiration, light watch, lighting and culture, lighting design, lighting standards | Leave a comment

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