The week that was 4-8 May
Perth, weekend 9-10 May 2015
Monday 4; Perth – Another year
On my way to Perth for some meetings and family time. As I celebrated another year wiser yesterday I will have my belated birthday dinner with my kids tomorrow night. Thanks to all the well-wishers who wrote on my timeline and wished me well via skype and others! On my flights I like to either read up or catch up on movies (I am pretty much up to date with all what is out there), as for some reason working on a plane does not really “sit” well with me. One of the things I got my hand on was an airline manual that indicates the various programmable lighting moods in the A380 (see below). I have flown the aircraft since one of its very first trips (Singapore to Sydney wit SQ) and even though I support the science behind the colours the execution is pretty poor. I am not impressed and even recently when I flew the A380 back from Shanghai most of LED RGB lights where inconsistent and out of sync. It looked cheap and messy. Surely an airliner can do better. Which begs the question, do they actually use a professional lighting designer for the design of cabin lights or do they just knock on the door of a lighting supplier? It feels like the latter and quiet honestly there is a lot of room for improvement!
Tuesday 5, Perth – The holy grail of due diligence
One of my latest contracts in Perth is the lighting of 3 churches, inside and outside. They are mostly heritage listed and a great need of a renovation. The church congregation is not cash strapped as they are supported by rich donations from big multinational firms. This will allow us to do some decent design work with good quality lighting systems. The churches are also home to various events such as exhibitions and weddings so we would be looking at implementing a certain level of special events and stage lighting equipment as well. Key to the lighting design will be the transfer from old energy consuming to new sustainable LED lighting systems with an eye on integrating the lighting harmoniously within the period heritage fabric of the building. Easy maintenance and simple operation will be integral to the design as well. All of the churches have a huge switchboard with heaps of manual toggle switches to activate one light or another, lamps and lamp colour are a mismatch of compact fluorescent, gas discharge and some old PAR lamps. There is no visual focus or directional light all is diffuse ambient of poor performance with uncomfortable glare. As part of the design research work we visited the St George Cathedral in Perth that was renovated some years ago. It was done with conventional lighting technology but still it was a good reference to visit. Part of our research is to understand what is around in similar project situations as references and comparisons are bound to be made, certainly in the same city! Due diligence!
Wednesday, 6 Perth – Pending pendant prototyping
One of the most interesting but also challenging projects is the renovation of a building that once was a hotel and the epitome of luxury during the west Australian gold rush early last century and that over the years saw it transformed for different usages, the last one being a bank building. Today we are working on a design that is transforming it into a social hub with bars, restaurants and offices right in the heart of the city. The thought is that period buildings like this should be more accessible to the general public to enjoy its heritage roots. We are the lighting designers for the interiors and exteriors of the building and developed the concept up to all tender documentation. Our main challenge now is to get the pendants design to satisfaction. We developed the concept of the pendants, the general look and feel as well as the specific lighting performance requirements. But as we are not chandelier manufacturers with the required expertise to sign off on structural and electrical safety issues, we leave the actual shop drawings and detailed execution to the awarded contractor subject to our approval. For some unexplained reason, the client is rushing the project to an early completion physically leaving no time for prototyping, a condition we had clearly stated in our documentation. Today’s meeting with the contractor was a bit “rough” at times as pushed for time any requests for samples or even remotely looking like a change were met with fierce resistance and threats of massive variation costs. On top of that the contractors chosen manufacturer for the pendants is a quality workshop no doubt, but by the looks of it with zero experience in producing high end decorative lighting pendants…this is going to be interesting! The shop drawings provided for sure don’t give us the necessary peace of mind as they are crude and rudimental with little details…
Thursday, 7 Perth – Design moment
In developing lighting concepts one needs to be inspired and find “that” solution that will create the perfect blend of providing the necessary lighting for the visual tasks required as well as the lighting to visually enhance the building. All that packaged in a way that will create a wow effect for the overall interior or exterior rather than just a lighting “wow”. Key to all my designs has always be the seamless integration of the lighting within the architecture; people entering the space should appreciate the space in its totality and not be distracted by the lighting. The best comments about the lighting are generally no comments, as that means it has been integrated perfectly, not too much, not too little. In preparation for a design progress meeting tomorrow I collated a number of my sketches that I had made during my site visits on Tuesday. One of the great advantages of doing work on existing buildings is that you can actually physically sit there and emerge yourself in the environment and building fabric to get a good feel; it allows you to spot lighting opportunities but also potential limitations to any lighting scheme. It is one of my favourite design moments…just sitting in the space I am to redesign and imagine how the lighting could be achieved. Nothing beats this. It is also (in my humble opinion) the most efficient way to come to your conceptual lighting design. Generally when I leave, the concept is pretty much inn my head or as in this case with some sketches on paper. I know what to do, know what needs to be achieved, where the lighting will have to be, know what needs to be avoided…that moment in space generally is the birth of my design concept…
Friday 8 Perth – Pending pendant prototyping – part 2
There is a twist to the story from Wednesday. The building owners (my client) awarded some spaces to a key tenant and as part of the deal they are to fit out the spaces themselves. This is now creating some confusion as we developed the heritage concept for their spaces as well, but they (the subtenant) engaged an interior designer (and their own lighting designer) to design the interiors of these spaces to suit their needs. Through poor communication we only recently discovered that they had designed their own version of my pendant. It was never made clear that the heritage pendant is one that will be installed throughout the building and they would have to be all the same for consistency. Today we had a head to head meeting with the subtenants design team to sort out whether we should adapt their design throughout the building or them to adopt my design. As good ego enhanced designers do, they wanted their design to be adopted and all stops were pulled to justify that. The killer blow however came from our contractor saying that my pendant design was already ordered and in production. This reverted the discussion back to prototyping as for obvious reason this would have to be done to satisfy all parties involved…the conclusion of this meeting was (to my great satisfaction) that preparing a prototype had now been officially sanctioned and possible extension costs accepted!
Have a great weekend