The week that was 3-7th April 2017
Singapore, Hong Kong, weekend 8 -9th April
After a kick of meeting for a new project in KL at the beginning of the week I travelled onwards to Hong Kong where I was an invited guest speaker at the currently running Hong Kong Lighting Fair. In our KL project we have a rather peculiar role for a part of the scope of work, that is described as “review and comment” other consultants work on lighting. Not surprisingly it creates many grey areas as we are technically not supposed to design. However the electrical consultant that we are reviewing has such an engineered approach to lighting design only focussed on achieving lux levels, that there is actually no design and the interior concept is totally invalidated. It is easy for us to say what to do but since we are supposed to only review and comment, how far do we go to actually tell them what to do…we mat as well do the design ourselves! The client not surprisingly has now asked us to quote for the full services…My presentation in Hong Kong about the challenges faced in “smart” lighting design, will be shared via our social media accounts, watch out for it.
There is probably no bigger contrast then having Elisa blog this week after Stan last week. Besides the female – male and age contrast we also have the cultural contrast pitting our Elisa’s Italian roots against Stan’s Aussie background. Elisa arrived on the Aussie shores last year and we have been blessed to have her in our team from the moment she joined us.
Writing after Stan is not easy, please don’t make a comparison with his amazing life, his experience and his repertoire of anecdotes, I will lose! My relationship with light started many years ago, during the university studies, and we are still a happy couple.
Studying the light
I remember my first lesson about lighting design and light in general, I was rapt with the interactions (some obvious, some unexpected) between human beings and light and their practical application in real life. My professor, the one that would become my thesis supervisor, used a blueish background in all his presentations and he explained that as an attempt to keep his students awake by fighting students’ laziness by its light effects on the circadian rhythm. But he admitted that sometimes he lost miserably. During the lighting theory and technique course I wasn’t bored at all and I said to myself “Wow, this is what I want to do!”
I graduated with Bachelor of Science in Interior Design and then I decided to study Product Design. I became Master of Science with a thesis on how to control the natural light in one of the most important art galleries in Italy. It was a very challenging project and I worked on that for almost a year. The result was well appreciated and an Italian lighting magazine published an article about my thesis. It gave me great satisfaction!
Light as a profession
After one year in Philips, I started working as junior lighting designer for a lighting manufacturer. After years of theory finally the practice! It was amazing (and a little bit scaring) to see the result of the designing process in real life, in real buildings, working for real clients. At that time my job was dealing with small projects and assisting the senior designer with the most important ones. Frequently we had to adapt the products on the catalogue to the client’s needs and sometimes create a completely new product trying to use parts and components that we already had. It was a really creative process, it was like playing with LEGO: a lot of different pieces to create basically everything… but something that the client would have liked and bought (!). I learned a lot and, after four years, I was ready to fly somewhere else.
I was hired in another company as senior lighting designer and product developer. As lighting designer, I was in charge of the main projects we received but, in the meantime, I had to improve our product range. The most interesting aspect of working for a company that creates and produces its own products is the potentially never-ending designing process. I had the good fortune to work with an amazing production manager, with 40 years of experience in lighting, a limitless passion for his job and an unchanged interest in learning about technology and solutions at the forefront. The first time I went to visit the company I felt like the child in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, I was completely open-mouthed. It was equipped with all the necessary to experiment and make tests with light. We created, sometimes starting from standard parts, sometimes producing new ones, prototypes for a lot of new fittings. I usually made a 3D model and I was able to print the parts that I needed with a 3D printer. When the prototype was ready we could test it, and verify the light emission with the gonio-photometer. The result was never satisfying at the first try so I had to start again. I said that potentially it is a never-ending process because there is always room for improvement and there is usually more than one solution to each problem. So the production and commercial needs always ended the research, not the researcher!
The entire process helped me to understand the interaction between light and different materials, colours, textures; I learned how to supply power to a LED and the consequences of different currents on design; I acquired the basis to draw the die for an extrusion; I became an expert on modifying photometry. These are specific and technical aspects linked to the product development but now they help me in evaluating the quality of a fitting and its suitability in a project.
In May 2016, I started working with Martin and KLD. Stan, Ingmar, Todd and I are the team in Perth. There are many differences with my previous job, working for an independent lighting design studio freed me from a proprietary source and allowed me to use anything and everything on the market to achieve the best result. This freedom sometimes scares me because there are so many options and possibilities that make the choice really hard. I have to thank Stan and Martin who guide me when I grope in the dark! I’m also gaining expertise in façade and exterior lighting, a fascinating application that can change completely the aspect of a building and of a city.
I know I still have a lot to learn…