The week that was…6-10th February 2017
Singapore weekend 11-12 February 2017
First of all welcome back and happy Chinese New Year of the Rooster! After a long break the blog is back but with a new “look”. From this week onwards I will not be writing the blog but my team and invited guests, mostly close collaborators, will be sharing their views on lighting, lighting design and what it is to work in a lighting design practice like ours. Their views and opinions are mostly unedited to maintain as much authenticity as possible and only formatted to fit the blog structure. I may add in my own comments here and there, but the idea is that I step back and leave the floor to the many people that have supported me and my practice over the years. First of the rank this week is Cheryline Chua, one of my long serving staff and a Senior Lighting Designer at KLD. I hope you enjoy this new approach and look forward to inputs and suggestions for other potential guest writers! Have a great weekend!
Cheryline Chua, senior lighting designer
Since I am given the opportunity to start first, I take the opportunity at this period when our engines are enjoying a short respite during this Lunar New Year holiday season to blog about the two projects that we have worked hard for in the last year and should be completed in 2017.
Singapore Bar renovation
After working for days on site rushing for completion of a renovated Bar in central Singapore, especially from December 2016 to the beginning of the year 2017, the site was cleaned up and prepared for a private event in the middle of January prior to the actual opening. The hoarding was still up but guests were ushered through a doorway and unveiled a new setup of the bar with new reception, new carpet, new bar counters and new lighting! The lighting is more than 90% completed, leaving with mainly fine-tuning and aiming which had to wait for the furniture to arrive. The client used some original furniture from the previous bar and rented as temporary furniture for the floor and we had the first opportunity to showcase how the remote controlled lighting was able to make this event space spectacular. On the day of the event, I arrived at site 2 hours before the event to aim all the lighting on the tables and the sculptures. Aiming is a very important work of lighting designers but people generally do not know until they see the effects of properly aimed lighting! The client and GM were very impressed and happy to see the space being transformed within an hour. After months of defending our lighting design, it is great to see the fabulous results and feel like our efforts have paid off.
We were very excited to share the photos taken for the night but were told to hold back as the client prefers to share with us their professional pictures only when the bar is officially opened. So we are still looking forward to the day of completion! Below are some sneak previews…
Yangshuo Resort project
I had a fast restart to the year for work as my first overseas business trip to Guangzhou in the first week of January was organized at the last site visit in December of last year. It was a trip insisted by Martin for the suppliers to come together to test the dimming compatibility between the lighting supplier and the lighting control supplier. We had been pressing for dimming compatibility test and reports for months and finally we had to make everyone commit to a place and time for us to finally clear the cloud. The presence of the client was welcomed, allowing us to show directly the effects of poor and non-compatible dimming.
Lighting control companies in China operate quite differently from the rest of the world. China is like a world of its own and the suppliers who do not work beyond China, have no interest to understand and resolve the concerns of international consultants like KLD. The lighting control supplier had ignored my call for coordination for months and finally it was clear that it is because they were brought in by the M&E consultant and it is common for lighting control suppliers to listen to the M&E consultant rather than the lighting consultant, since it is not so common to have lighting consultants in China yet. I had to make the point several times during that trip that lighting control has everything to do with lighting design and that close coordination with the lighting consultant was critical.
The dimming tests started off rocky when I pointed out that the equipment in the office were not the right type for our dimming tests and the lighting supplier also did not prepare enough fixtures for us to do testing. We decided to work with what we had on hand first while waiting for more equipment and fittings to be sent to the office. We also started seeing some light flickering and shimmering when the lights were dimmed, with both the lighting supplier and the lighting control supplier offering no solution to the problem. They had expected us to accept slight shimmering but I pointed out that shimmering becomes very obvious and disturbing especially when there are a few of them happening at the same time; they will never be synchronized which will amplify the shimmering effect. The client also agreed that shimmering lights should not be accepted.
Key to the problem was that we had specified 0-10V dimming, but the site contractor had largely ignored that and proceeded to install (“old fashioned”) phase dimming. The client asked whether the problem lies with the light fitting or the lighting control equipment, and he finally seemed to understand that compatibility is hard to explain. He even used the analogy of a couple that cannot bear children but they might end up bearing children when they marry someone elseJ. We met with a standstill for a while when both sides said they had nothing else to offer to resolve the issue. After further pressing, the lighting supplier found another few drivers to test and finally we were able to find one that did not cause the light to shimmer. The later part of the day went on better and we were able to wrap up the day with understanding the limitations to the (phase) dimming and what cannot be accepted in hospitality projects. In those areas not yet installed with phase dimming the client agreed to push for 0-10V dimming. It is so much more productive with many outstanding problems being resolved in a few hours when the right people are involved (lighting consultant!) compared to leaving it to be sorted between the contractor and suppliers for months on end. Suppliers generally only care about when they can have confirmation of orders and not whether their equipment works with others. However with this dimming test, we are now more set to achieve a common goal to produce a good result.
As we enter the New Year, I cannot wait to see these two projects that I have been working on very hard for the past many months finally shaping up for completion. I look forward to progressing on a few more exciting projects that had started last year in the coming months.