The week that was…18-22nd June 2018
Singapore -France countryside- Holland- German Alps- Singapore
Weekend 23-24th June 2018
Starting back on higher ground
Yes, I have been away for a while…I took a one month “sabbatical retreat” in my countryside France to recharge my batteries. The contrast between rural life and our busy practice puts life in perspective. 😊.
Work restarted for me this week well before I reached back in Singapore with an unexpected trip to the German/ Austrian Alps, just south of Salzburg. One of my existing project clients has a beautiful site there which he wants to convert into an Alpine health village. He wanted me to see the site before returning to Singapore and discuss the detailed scope of work so I can hit the ground running on my return. I am really excited about this project which will allow us to combine our hospitality lighting skills with one of our key application skills in circadian lighting and lighting for health.
There is no doubt that spa and health living retreats as well as medical holidays (and where better then in the high Alps with clean air and incredible vistas with mountains going up close to 3000m high?) are becoming more and more popular and in demand. Not only for the rich and famous but also for the common man. I was there close to the summer solstice day, sunny and green, and can only imagine how the winter wonderland views will be…the area has also a very rich history dating back centuries…looking forward to this exciting project!
Back in Singapore
On arrival early in the morning mid-week I had little rest as a catch-up lunch meeting with some good friends and project clients was scheduled to make use of their passage through Singapore. Our business model is very much based on creating trust and respect with our clients as part of a quality delivery, so maintaining the relationships is an important part of our practice. After a quick nap and shower I was therefore back in action to meet my good friends.
In the afternoon I dropped into the office to catch up with my team which I had not seen for over a month…being away for such time, something I have been doing for the last few years now, also has a positive side for the team. The reality is that when I am around, I get involved either by my own initiative or through participative requests. In short it means that my team takes a “back seat” when I am around letting me lead. Being away “forces” them to take initiative and resolve problems on the spot…being away in the French countryside with limited internet connection has its advantages…I am always pleased to see how they manage so well without me. Ultimately the company needs to be able to run as well without me!
The next day I attended an important value engineering meeting for one of our Maldives project with QS, Project Management, Engineering, ID, Operator and Client present. We had done our homework as had the others and it was a productive meeting with clear directions on how budgets can be achieved. It is interesting as we have a near parallel project running in the Maldives (same operator, different designers and client) where this exercise is moving in a totally different way. The key to VE is to find the best value for money without affecting the approved design concept. This project has a realistic client who seems to be able to appreciate what it takes to deliver a quality project. The initial cost projections where way too low and the current projections are about nearly triple. The client realises more has to be pumped in and in a fair and professional meeting we are jointly looking at bringing the costs down significantly through alternatives, options, simplifications and a staged implementation. The process feels good, respected and appreciated for our expertise without losing focus on the to achieved end result.
In sharp contrast the VE process running in parallel on the other project has a client who is only focussed on one thing…money. It is willing to sacrifice quality and concept to achieve the project cost target, regardless whether their budget was right in the first place. The process is frustrating and demoralising for everyone concerned. There is little respect and appreciation for design efforts, quality…it is very likely that our first project will deliver a great end product that will stand the test of time, whether this second project will feel like a missed opportunity. Our role as lighting designer is the same in both…but how different the outcomes will be…
Finally this week saw the issue of Outlook Magazine Asia, a construction magazine for Asia that features our company as a professional niche lighting design practice. Published out of the UK it profiles our company as one of the leading design practices in the region and acknowledges our innovative and leading role in developing the Lighting Design of Things platform. You can find the link to the magazine and brochure below:
Full magazine (see p94): www.asiaoutlookmag.com/magazine/asia-outlook-issue-33
I leave you with some mood images from the past weeks…to put the contrast between nature and our hectic business life in perspective… 😊
Enjoy the weekend…
the Alps…our project site…