The week that was 21-25th September
Singapore, weekend 26-27th September 2015
Monday 21st September, Singapore – The time management challenge One day in my office to catch up with my team and outstanding matters before going on the road again for the rest of the week. This is probably the biggest single challenge for all designers…time management. It is our commodity. Our knowledge and expertise, sure we need to have it, but how to allocate and distribute this, is in my opinion by far our biggest challenge. Time is allocated towards many different components and the more responsibilities you have in an organisation the bigger the challenge. You need time to be creatively designing your projects of course but the reality is that, even though that is at the heart of our profession, it ends up to be just a minor part of your time allocation. On the business side of things most of the time you end up managing, directing your team, communicating with the client’s project team and for those who have family/friends outside work also your private life! Time is also needed for personal education, if we don’t learn along the way we don’t improve…add travel into the mix and you can see this becomes a huge challenge to anybody’s standards. You will need energy to drive all this, so understandably pacing yourself and creating reasonable timelines is crucial. So today I was happy that I could have a project conference call with one of my clients in the Philippines rather than having to go there. The equitation is easy; 1 hour versus 2 days…problem solved…client happy!
Tuesday 22nd September, Hainan – When a lighting review is not about lighting Travel remains essential though. While there are many issues that can be resolved via a simple conference call (communication is critical at all times) there are things that need face to face or site presences to resolve. This morning I left on an early morning flight to Haiko, Hainan for the review of a mock up room in one our resort project. It is the third review of the same room again over the space of 1 year, just showing that it takes time to get things right. We had a daytime review for the interior fit out details and a second review at night for the assessment of the lighting. You know you got the lighting right when that review turns out to be discussing other issues then lighting! The best comment about your lighting design is NO comment I generally say as that means everything just feels natural…not too much, not too little. That is to my great satisfaction exactly what happened. As it turned out there was no discussion about lighting and the review turned out to be am extension for the afternoon’s review focussing more on interior workmanship details rather then lighting. In the end when we were about to leave the client realised we were there for the lighting and sked a few minor questions about light distribution and programming…Personally besides workmanship quality issues and installation details, the overall lighting design mood feels really good…the no comments confirming that everybody was happy with the overall lighting result…
Wednesday 23rd September, Hainan- Guangzhou – Copies of copies After last night’s mock up room review we also wandered through the resorts landscaping to review some of the landscape lighting that was installed. To our and the client’s horror, the installed lighting had no relationship with our design and we found light fittings that were obviously copies from what was in our specifications. It became clear that the landscape contractor had a different mind and agenda then the rest of the project team, which cost him a humiliating tirade from the owner/client. Whether that was window dressing we don’t know because in the end it is all about money and somewhere down the line somebody gives instructions and approvals to proceed, buy and install. I certainly have not given any approval and by the looks of the client and project manager they neither…which begs the question why did they go ahead and install anyhow? One of the things I have discovered over the years is that the Chinese are so good in copying that they even copy their own copies! We discovered that some of the lights installed were actually a copy of a local brand that was already a substitute alternative to our specification! How low can you go! To counter this I am now on my way to the factory in the Guangdong area to personally meet with the big boss, visit the factory tomorrow and explain clearly the process of design, specification, samples and approvals so that they own up to their own local agent and make sure that we get the approved alternative and not a copy of it! Meanwhile here are some images from the site…
Thursday 24th September, Huizhou/ Shenzhen – Q-day Today is Q-day, quality control day. I am visiting the factory in the morning and have asked that all light fitting samples as proposed alternatives be presented to me for review and approval, including full spec sheet descriptions. For the occasion and to lend weight to my visit I am accompanied by the project manager as well as the president of the Chinese Lighting Designers Association, a strategic move to impress on the boss that this is serious and that short cuts will not be tolerated. By including the CLDA in this process I want to make sure he understands the implications…you want to keep your lighting designers as friends! Personally I have no issue with this manufacturer, on the contrary, and the factory visit and company introduction were impressive, certainly considering this company has come out of nowhere and over the last 10 years grown into a major LED lighting manufacturer with a reported turnover of USD 130 Mio a year! But they are relatively young and are learning to come out from under previous shady copying practices by developing their own brand and quality standards. They are certainly on their way with products that start to rival their more illustrious western competitors. However quality control of product and process remains crucial and in that respect todays visit was an imperative step to take.
Later in the day I had a long project meeting in Shenzhen with the local team with whom I am developing a master lighting plan for a mega resort island. Here the underlying theme was the same…quality control. The work done so far by the local team had no concept, no story, no coherent design, just hap-hazard ideas thrown in one big basket and presented as a masterplan. It took me till late in the evening to organise the thinking patterns, coordinate them in a cohesive approach, with a proper and meaningful concept strategy. We have another two weeks to prepare the presentation, but at least now I feel there is logic and meaning (and quality) to the main design approach!
Friday 25th September, Guangzhou – Singapore – In Memoriam; Navin Krishen As I am flying back to Singapore I have time to digest and reflect on the sad news of the passing away of my business partner in India, Navin Krishen, who was rudely and unexpectedly taken away from us after a short illness earlier this week. I had met Navin several years ago; we clicked instantly and decided to join venture together for the promotion of the lighting design business in India, with his office in Delhi effectively becoming our representative office in India. Over the years a great friendship and deep professional respect for each other developed and when I received the news of his passing, it was a great shock, we still had so many plans…I will miss his infinite wisdom and expertise, his guidance and look on life. My thoughts are particularly with his wife for whom this is a double tragedy after losing their son to illness just recently as well. Navin was greatly respected by his peers in the industry. For me and my team it is a great personal loss…Navin was taken away from us way too early. I will be forever indebted for his immeasurable contribution to my personal development in particular and the electrical and lighting design world in general.