Guangzhou, weekend 10-11th June 2017
As I prepare this week’s blog I am in Guangzhou attending the Guangzhou International Lighting Exhibition (GILE), under management of Messe Frankfurt. I am a guest speaker at the Think Light event and am also here to join today’s Chinese Lighting Designers Association’s Annual General Meeting which is being held in conjunction with the GILE. On behalf of CLDA’s International Advisory Council (IAC) of which I am an executive member, I will present an overview of our past and ongoing activities to promote better awareness of good quality lighting design in China specifically and the Asia Pacific region in general. Tomorrow, besides my presentation at Think Light, we will also meet with the Messe Frankfort management team to discuss our participation in the Shanghai International Lighting Fair in September (already confirmed) and next year’s presence at the Frankfurt Light & Build event, so plenty of actions going on there!
This week, fittingly, we move to our China team and the first up is Zhaolin, my longest serving, loyal team member. I am very grateful to her for sticking by me for all these years and also very proud of her continuous strive to improve and get better. Her efforts to master English to better communicate and interact with the team and international client and design members have been an important aspect of her growth. Thanks Zaolin.
Intro: Me and Martin
Hi, all! I’m Zhaolin, from KLD Shanghai office. When I got the message that I need to write an article for Martin’s blog, his face appeared in my mind. It’s been 13 years since I entered his company in China end of 2004. During these years, I have been growing from a draftsman to a lighting designer and a project manager. My first lighting idea, my first meeting with clients, my first site visit, my first lighting programming…… every step has his guidance and company. For me, he’s more a great teacher, not only teaching me lighting knowledge, but also some truth of life, like how to work with professional attitude, how to treat everyone equally and gently including his employees, how to help and support young people…… May I take this opportunity to say “Thank you, Martin!”?
Me and Lighting
The first time I heard about Lighting Design was at my interior design graduation job fair. After my two girl friends and I had learned what a lighting designer needed to do, we decided: we’ll not be lighting designers! But several years later we all became lighting designers!
The first project I joined in was Yuanyi Hilton hotel in Hefei province, east of China. Lighting in the main lobby is quite dark. But several years later, when I visited it with another interior designer, he told me that he liked the lighting there: yes, it was dark, but it made sense但很有感觉. My favourite project is the Kempinski Resort Hotel in Sanya which included interior lighting, facade lighting and landscape lighting. I started to be involved in design work. It was a hard but exciting time. Looking at it when I went to do the final programming with Martin, the feeling was like having my own baby.
As time went on, I designed Double Tree Hotels, Crown Plaza Hotels, Alila Hotels, and currently we are working on two other Hilton Hotels, one in Shanghai and one in Sanya. Some projects went well, some were difficult, no matter what was going on, I enjoyed the process, and I knew that I would do better next time. Lighting is a very small part in a whole project, but in order to finish our work better, we still need a lot of knowledge and abilities: lamps, fittings, materials, dimming systems, control systems, the ability to communicate with clients, the ability to balance budget and quality, the ability to realize design effect, etc. and with the progress of science and technology, we must continue to study. It will be a long way, but I do enjoy the way.
Zhaolin, Lighting Designer
Singapore, weekend 3-4th June 2017
Travelling time zones is always a challenge, specifically combatting jetlag after a month away can be daunting. I guess I have learned to adapt myself quickly over the years as my transition to Singapore time has been relatively smooth, even after one month in a different (- 6 hours) time zone. Settling in as quickly as possible to the new time has always worked best for me. Back at work since Monday, I already feel like I have hardly been away…funnily when I arrived in France a month ago, just after a few days I already felt like I had been there for ages…My friend Warren Julian recently posted a comment on his Facebook page with the question why airlines always want you to close the window blinds practically as soon as you have taken off, specifically on long haul flights. Light is a good medicine to keep you bright and active, certainly during day flights! The real reason he postured is that the blinds are not closed for your rest but for the rest of the crew! Obviously a sleeping passenger is less demanding than an active one! I left Europe on a midday flight and until deep in the flight I was practically the only one with my window blinds still open! Food for thought…
This week we have Rara, the last team member from our (young but dynamic) Jakarta team to blog for us. It has been a pleasure to read about our Jakarta team, their road to lighting design and their experiences as lighting designer.
Introduction: Siti Bararah Nurhaqiyati, Lighting designer
Hi all! My name is Rara and I’m part of KLD Jakarta as a designer, the most senior designer after Galih actually. First of all, I would like to thank Martin for the opportunity to write on his blog. Although at first, I thought it would be very challenging since I don’t have that much experience to write about lighting, but rest assured it looks like we can write anything we want J. So first let me recall my journey with KLD briefly.
I was recruited in early 2015 (I didn’t apply though) as I was, back then, an internship student in KLD. That time, I had just graduated from the same university and with the same majors as Wulan and Adika (you can read it in the previous posts). Now I’ve been working for two years and gained so many experiences, both in project lighting design as well as in lighting industry knowledge. Lately, I’ve been wondering about how lighting design has developed in Indonesia and how it relates to the global perspective. To gain some insights about this topic, I talked to some lighting designers who have experienced both lighting design in Indonesia and developed countries. So here are some conclusion I drawn from the discussions and my experience.
Architects, interior designers and landscape designers are the few professions in the built environment that the majority of Indonesians are familiar with. But when it comes to lighting designers it’s a different story. Here lighting is considered as a simple task which usually is assigned to the electrician and has nothing to do with an advanced design process. I even heard people describing our profession as those who replace the light bulb when it is broken… lol :). It has not yet come to their awareness that those attractive shopping mall facades at night, these very comfortable hotel rooms or that awesomely lit connecting bridge, have a lengthy meticulous design process behind it with many considerations on not only how it looks but also how people experience and benefit from it.
On the other hand, in business development, lighting is widely known and used as part of their project. However, the challenge is still there but it takes a different shape. In nearly all projects, lighting design has to compete with the budget (never seems enough!) so the completed design may not be as good as what we intended. In some cases, lighting is only considered last, after the completion of architecture, interior, and other design fields, meaning that only the balance of the budget remains. There also seems to be an ethnicity preference, which I came to know from a senior designer, where property owners prefer international consultants as they are considered more prestigious and attractive to the customer rather than choosing a local one. However, I think those challenges are what makes the lighting industry grow even more creative.
Just like in business, lighting design is known in the governmental sector but considered not that important. In some region, the requirement for a lighting professional to be involved in projects is decreed but not obligatory. In some cases, lighting designers are invited just to certify the lighting requirements while the actual work is done by the M&E consultant. Also, the local lighting standards that designers refer to doesn’t comprehensively cover all application hence it does not properly cover the lighting needs of Indonesians.
Lighting design probably still have lots of work to do to get noticeable and appreciated in Indonesia, but I think, now, it is just a matter of time. It is because Indonesia has had a relatively positive economic growth and property development over time, both private and government-owned, flourishing every month in every region and providing bigger opportunities!
There is also promising signs for lighting design from the government who have put creative economic development as one of their main agenda points for 2025. One of the key visions is to develop art, culture, and tourism by having the creative sector take part and collaborate, including lighting design! Actually, I’ve been aware of this just recently when KLD was appointed for the Kuta Mandalika project, a tourist destination run by the government. I have also seen many lighting developments on various monumental and historical sites around Jakarta. It seems that we are now trying to catch up with the world…
Moreover, the awareness doesn’t only grow on tourism, but also for other types of public space. As I head our Soekarno Hatta Terminal 3 project team, I’ve become aware that the government started to demand well-designed lighting for public facilities. To achieve their high expectation, site visits and detailed analysis were made to accommodate all issues so that KLD can present them of what is important for public space such as balanced contrasts, avoidance of glare and indirect glare, good visibility and wayfinding, etc.
Briefly, I think we are slowly but surely improving, but there is still a long way to go. As a developing country, Indonesia will be more likely to incorporate lighting to boost the economic stability. However, now the world is facing a bigger issue: sustainability. I think it is only when Indonesia has reached a strong economy that we can shift the focus from economic development to the broader issue of sustainability.
Lots of work here and there are needed. But hopefully, we can boost the progress by delivering creative solutions and good designs that would stand out and raise awareness.
PS: below are two of my projects, Nipah Mall and Ancol Boulevard, that I found interesting and challenging.
Nipah Mall Facade 3D Rendering
Nipah Mall Facade Mock Up
Ancol Boulevard Schematic Design
Netherlands, weekend 27-28th May 2017
My time in France has come to an end and after visiting my parents this weekend in Holland I will be re-energised and back on deck in Asia next week…
I had been mulling the idea to have my team participate in the blog for a while at the end of last year, especially after having been at it myself for more than 7 years. I wanted something different and the idea of having my own team share their thoughts and experiences appealed to me on many levels. First of all what we produce in terms of work to our client is a coordinated team effort, so getting an insight of the individual team members is great for everyone. It also put each of our members in the spotlight in appreciation of the unheralded work they are doing. It puts everyone in the spotlight and also shows that what we do is a combined result of all the experiences, big or small, from everyone. Personally it has given me a great appreciation and understanding of what everyone does and how they experience their work for which I am very grateful… This week we follow Adika…
Introduction: Adika Annisa, Lighting Designer
Hi I’m Adika, yes I’m women (because my name, many people who have never met me think I’m man J). Okay, back to this blog. This my part now. I think my experience in lighting it’s not enough yet, but I am grateful for the opportunity to post my thoughts here, so many thanks to Martin for giving the KLD Jakarta Team a chance to write for the blog. Like Wulan, my educational background is interior Architecture. I loved lighting even before I got to university, however at that time I didn’t know how interesting lighting was, but after I studied lighting during my Interior Architecture study, I realised how much I was interested in lighting! I saw how lighting could create interior atmosphere and moods, influence people’s behaviour and how lighting could affect buildings and their surroundings.
I first joined KLD as an internship student, when I was at the university. During that time in KLD, I studied a lot about lighting, but not only about light also about how professional lighting designers work. So, after I graduated from university with architecture bachelor degree, I went back to KLD. My initial position was that of assistant lighting designer and my mentor is Afifah. We have many projects, especially in hospitality. I assist her in almost all her projects as she likes to share all her projects with me, which helped me acquire a lot of experience before I was promoted to lighting designer. As part of my job I do lighting concept design with my mentor, choose luminaires, discussed the projects with Mr. Galih as our boss at KLD Jakarta and attend project design and coordination meetings. It’s hard but very interesting! Thanks to Mr. Galih and Mrs. Afifah (she resigned last year when she got married and then followed her husband to live in another town) to give me this great opportunity to study and learn so much through this company.
I have been working as lighting designer for 1 year now and most of my projects I took over from my mentor. Many of them are big projects, mostly hotels and serviced apartments. Until now the projects are still in progress, not completed yet. It’s not easy to handle it all without assistance this time, but I am very excited especially when I go to review the mock up. It’s not just work but also increasing my skills and experiences, seeing the product on a real site, feeling the effects from every luminaire, deciding and resolving problems on site and many more. Some I can’t resolve by myself, but thanks to Galih, who then patiently accompanies me, I have support.
Mr. Galih said to me that by now I should have mastered lighting design in hospitality projects and that I could do other projects J, I hope it’s true but I think I still have much to learn, lots to learn. Much more knowledge I have to acquire. I feel it’s still not enough now! Moreover becoming a lighting designer at this time in Indonesia is very strict, with lighting consultants becoming more popular with many new lighting consultants coming up here. Other than that, most Indonesian client very concern with budget!
Below are pictures from some of my projects 🙂
Note: renderings done with my mentor
Hilton Garden Inn Kemayoran, Jakarta, Indonesia. Mock Up Room
U-Residence, Tanggerang Indonesia. Linear Light Façade Mock Up
Menteng Park Tower 3, Jakarta Indonesia. Podium Landscape Mock Up * It’s not same as our specified proposal, but we think the effect pretty good. That’s the time to decide on site. We will do several more mock ups before we decide which luminaires to use. (*pool light turn off)
France, weekend 20-21th May 2017
Yes I am still in France…it’s a big change of pace, but I feel it is a very necessary one to incorporate in my life at tmes…I have been running around the world like a mad man, in a plane on a weekly basis flying out to another project site or sharing my experience on lighting platforms. Taking the time to literally smell the roses, slow down the pace, chat with my neighbours in the village about the weather, getting my bread from the local bakery, having a coffee at the local coffee shop…you get the picture :). The thing is that it allows you to slow down, recharge your batteries and enjoy a bit of “real life” without the worries of the daily running of the company.
This week we have the pleasure of having Anya as our guest blogger from the Jakarta team. As always I very much appreciate the effort!
Introduction: Anya Azaria, Lighting Designer
Hi, my name is Anya, lighting designer and head of our KLD studio in Jakarta. First of all I’d like to thank Martin for the opportunity writing for this week’s blog. To be honest when I first heard from Mr.Galih that Jakarta team would also take part and participate in Martin’s blog, like the others, I actually didn’t have any idea, just thinking about what I should write? So I guess I’ll start my writing and take all of you back to the year of 2015.
In 2015 I graduated from university, I was majoring architecture but decided to start my career as a lighting designer not as an architect. Lighting has already captured my heart since I took my internship year at KLD Jakarta in 2014. That was why as soon as I graduated I applied for the job and got accepted at KLD Jakarta as a lighting designer assistant. It is always good to be back at the place where you were first introduced to lighting design. So why a lighting designer? Why has this job really taken my heart?
First, I remember back then when I was studying architecture there was a subject called Building Physics. In that one semester I learned mostly about heating, cooling but also about lighting for buildings, from daylight to artificial lighting. It is then that I began to realize that lighting can bring great impact in building design. Not only for the building beautification but also it takes an important role in the interaction between human and the activities inside. With lighting we can do many things, enhancing the concept from architect and interior designer, setting the mood and situation for users, or, through the advanced development of technology, we can integrate lighting with audio visual system and security systems which can be controlled with one hand which I believe will be an integral part of our future daily life.
All the theory that I got from college came to hit the reality when I started working life. At first being a lighting designer was below my expectation, but now I really enjoy my job. Creating concepts and designing is always my favorite stage of the project. During this stage I can go wild with my ideas but also be rational at the same time. In my opinion, the first concept will be the key point for how far we will go with the next design. As the result of this stage, watching the client happy with our concept ideas really gives me great satisfaction.
Of course being a lighting designer is not just about creating concept and designing, we have to have the ability and skill to manage our projects, deal with the client or our suppliers and choose the best fitting for the design. Having product knowledge is a critical plus factor for a lighting designer. That’s why I am willing to learn more and keep me updated with the LED technology as much as possible.
Last but not least, I think being a lighting designer in Indonesia is something new. Well not as new as you think but if we compare with other occupations like an architect or an interior designer, lighting designers surely are “your fresh brewing coffee” in the Indonesia market. Nowadays, when we take a look at Indonesia’s economic development programs for hospitality, housing and urban design, public transportation facilities, office buildings and shopping malls, especially in Jakarta, there are still many opportunities for lighting consultants to grow and become big. As far as I know, there are still very few lighting design consultants in Indonesia.
Let’s set sail and catch all the big fishes in the ocean!
PS Below are project pictures that I am currently working on, the public area renovation of Sahid Jaya Hotel Jakarta.
France, weekend 13-14th May 2017
Still enjoying the relaxing countryside of my retreat in the South of France, I have also been playing a bit client and project manager. While keeping a remote eye on office and project proceedings I have been overseeing some contractor works at my farmhouse. I am having a new bathroom done and this time rather than consultant I am the client! An interesting time as dealing with countryside workers is quite a different experience than dealing with the big project sites we are used too. Everything has a different pace and priorities can change by the day! On arrival it took a few days before they actually came claiming they had to deal with some emergencies first. But aside from a royal lunch time (they knock off around noon and are back around 2.30 pm 🙂 ) they do a pretty nice and professional job. When they leave at the end of the day they duly clean the work site and leave it neatly behind. Most of all they are friendly and always ready for a chat! The quality of the workmanship is excellent, very professional…certainly compared to some of the shitty (and dirty) work I often see on our project sites in Asia!
We are really pleased to get an insight in how our Jakarta team is going about their work. Galih’s team is young, but very eager to learn and by the looks of it they have the same family/ team spirit as we have in Singapore…we support and help each other! It is great to see that Wulan, this week’s blogger, is putting in such big effort to write about his experiences! As English is not their native language the blog efforts by our Indonesian team are even more appreciated. The blog has been edited for grammar but overall it is pretty much Wulan’s story!
Introduction: Wulan Ayunda Putri, Lighting Designer
First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Martin for giving me this opportunity to write for the blog. First I would like to start this blog by telling how I entered life as a lighting designer. My educational background is Interior Architecture and I started falling in love with lighting when I got lighting lessons in college. Since then I always felt that lighting is the soul of a building. From my friend I heard about KLD, a lighting design company that has an internship program for students. So with without thinking I immediately applied for an internship there. At the same time I also did an internship, writing for my undergraduate thesis. Of course my topic for my undergraduate thesis was also about lighting: “Lighting Effect for Library Café”. After I graduated from my college, I went back to join KLD for work. So many thanks to Mr. Galih for giving me chance to join KLD Indonesia. I have been working at KLD for 2 years now and I am really excited about this job and doing lighting projects here!
Jakarta Citi Plan – South Quarter
This is the first project that I handled as a lighting designer; the Jakarta Citi Plan office project. The client for this project, Citi Bank, have specific lighting design guidelines which they want us to follow. In the process I learned many things about lighting design from their guidelines, such as about lighting sensors, lighting control and lux standards for many type of rooms. As with many other projects, we started this project by developing the concept; we create 3D rendering images, search for 3D references, find the suitable luminaires, etc.
Of specific importance for this project as part of the lighting design process is to do lux level calculation, to ensure that our design will achieve what the client need and comply with their standards. Since the project has short timeline, our challenge was to find suitable luminaires that were readily available from the local market.
It was hard to handle this project for me as a fresh new lighting designer with hardly enough knowledge about lighting and with little experience in projects! I faced many challenges during did this project, problems with fitting installation, problems with how to control lighting, how coordinate and ensure the luminaires would arrived on time to the site, etc. It was crucial to have good coordination with all the other consultant we worked with on this project.
Thanks to Mr. Galih’s support and guidance and together with my colleagues who helped me to realise this project, we managed to finish it! The last process of the project is supervision, where we check the lighting effects and also did some lux level measurement to confirm that the rooms have the desired lighting and achieve the client’s standard.
When I finally saw the end result of our design completed on a real site it made me so proud! Most of all I learned so many things from this project about lighting design and how to manage a project that it will help me in my next projects!
Some of our 3D rendering for concept
Result of Lux Measurements
France, weekend 6 – 7th May 2017
As I prepare this week’s blog entry from my retreat in the South, France is going to the polls to elect their new president, a choice between Marine Le Pen (a nationalist) and Emanuel Macron a youth full pro-Europe centrist. For the first time none of the main stream parties made it to the final round and whatever the outcome tonight there will be a new wind blowing in French politics. Somehow there is always something going on with the French presidents and their wives and Macron kept it going with when we got to know that he fell in love at 17 and subsequently married his former teacher, who is 25 years his senior, quite a love story! If elected at 39 he will be the youngest ever French president. This morning as I went to the local bakery I already found a buzzing activity at “la Mairie”, the town house used for the voting. While Macron has a healthy lead (about 60%-40%) we cannot exclude a surprise a la Trump! Fingers crossed!
From this week we have passed the baton to our Jakarta team who will be taking care of the blogging. It is with great pleasure that I introduce Galih, my long standing colleague and business partner in Jakarta. Since Galih left our team in Singapore to set up KLD in Jakarta he has steadily been growing the business and has been doing a great job establishing our brand in Indonesia.
At first, I would like to thank Martin, my mentor in lighting, who has always had faith in me and has kept encouraging me to become a better person in life and work. More than 10 years ago now… wow time runs fast. Early 2007 he opened the door for me, carried my luggage and let me stay with him for a while before I found my own apartment. I was lucky, travelling from Germany after finishing my study in lighting at HS Wismar to join his friendly team. It is easy to tell good stories but here I would like to say that whenever I “fell”, Martin always give hand to get back up. Amongst our team, we have slogan: don’t worry be happy (keep working… 🙂 ). As with all other team members, I don’t see Martin as a boss… I see him as a leader, he guides me and let me learn from my own mistake. He is my teacher, I have a huge appreciation to him. I would like to take this opportunity to say happy birthday Martin (3rd May)! May GOD bless you with Health, Wealth and Prosperity in your life!
Now I will share my experience through our projects. Let me start from the last part of the project stage, the supervision. It is not less important than the other project stages as supervision is the part where we as the lighting designer have to make sure our design is implemented correctly. Sometime we find condition that needs modification on site in order to meet our concept. First, we have to make sure the fitting supplied is as per specification and that the colour matches with architectural material. This does not always go as per plan, for example:
The fitting colour here is supposed to be same red as the column, but in reality it is not really a match!.
Installation of linear lights
Installation details are also an important part, see image below. Linear lights under steps for instance need to be concealed properly and supported by metal profile, which will hold and keep the linear light firmly in place and help to absorb the heat.
The effect we want to achieve is that of a soft glow on each step. To assure that this is indeed achieved a mock-up is needed (see photo below).
In this example it turned out the linear light was not as per our specification, there is no milky acrylic cover, which resulted in the LED’s being reflected as dots on the floor when wet.
Part of the supervision is also to adjust the light to desired areas, like in this project where the adjustable downlights are to cover the whole area evenly.
this is one of our latest projects called QBig, a commercial building with a huge park located at BSD Serpong (picture taken by a friend).
More to follow in the blogs from our team in the coming weeks! Thanks again for opportunity.
Galih, Director KLD Jakarta
Netherlands, weekend 29-30th April
As you can see I have arrived in Europe and am on my way to enjoy a few weeks of annual leave. Prior to that I am spending a few days in my native Holland to catch up with my parents and family.
This week we take a little break in the team blogging and instead I take the opportunity to introduce our brand new corporate video. Over the past few months we have been working steadfastly to revamp our website and as part of launching a new look KLD we also decided to make a corporate video that provides a more visual catchy look at what we do and how our services benefits our clients. The website will be launched in the coming weeks (still tweaking and finalising some content) but the video is ready and I thought of introducing that to our followers, friends and business relations right now. We are excited about it and we hope that you are too! I am extra proud of the video as it was fully created, developed and produced by my own daughter Kyra.
Singapore weekend 22-23rd April
To my own surprise I ended up not travelling at all this week. Originally scheduled to go to Australia, I decided to postpone the trip to a later date as our new Vietnam project presentation would need all our attention this week with a probable trip back to HCMC at the end of the week. But by midweek it became clear that we could everything remotely and that a trip would not be necessary…but as always when you think you will have a few easier days, something unexpected happened in this case in the form of a mega project tender that popped up on my desk midweek. As often the case it was due yesterday and I ended up make late hours to make sure we could submit it by close of business Friday…that, together with the Vietnam project deadline and some improvised meetings, made up for a very busy week! Postponing my trip to Australia ended up to be a good decision considering the amount of work that needed my input this week…
This week’s blogger has a special place in my heart as I am not only his boss, I am also his father :). Ingmar had worked with me before, but then left to pursue his own path. Recently, after finishing his university studies, he decided to give it another go and joined our team in Perth to look after the business development side of the company. I am really pleased to have him back.
It was back in early 2001 that I first had a dab at preparing technical lighting drawings, initially for Lighting Images. Using AutoCAD I worked on drawings for hotels, resorts and shopping centers; mainly projects in Singapore, China and South Korea. I was given hand-drawn lighting plans and sketches by Martin to be translated into technical form. Although I wasn’t involved in the actual design, it was my first introduction to what goes on inside a lighting designer’s brain. I also saw first-hand how a concept design and vision ultimately morphs into the final physical form. Little did I know that sixteen years later I would be writing a blog for KLD about my experiences and appreciation for lighting design. For me this journey has only just begun. After reading Stan’s, Elisa’s and Todd’s blogs, I too am grateful to be given the opportunity to write from my perspective, which comes from an urban planning background as I will explain.
Urban planning background
Over the last five years I have embarked on a slightly different journey; recently having completed my BA Hons in Urban and Regional Planning at Curtin University, Perth. I found urban planning to be an immensely interesting field, yet challenging at the same time. I spent much time learning about the relationships between people and places, movement and urban form, nature and the built fabric. Urban planning, being a rather broad discipline, deals with both political and technical processes in relation to development and use of land, planning permission, protection and use of the environment, public welfare, and the design of the urban environment. Why did I choose urban planning, do I hear you ask? Good question. This brings me back to my childhood days when I used to play Sim City on the computer; designing cities, placing roads and rail, designating residential, commercial and industrial land zones. I found great pleasure in creating functional, integrated, well-designed and beautiful places. It was a simplistic view of the world and how those elements interacted and influenced each other. In 2016 I worked at the WA Department of Planning, where I was immersed in a complex world of political swings and roundabouts, very different to the one initially had with Sim City. One does not simply design and shape great cities or towns at the click of a mouse button. What I realised around this time was what inspired me to enter into urban planning was my desire to create vibrant spaces for people, spaces that are functional, attractive and sustainable; but it was more the ‘design’ element that was the main driver for me. With ‘design’ in mind, I’m talking about place-making and beautifying, to have a vision for an area and then bringing the vision to life. Isn’t that what lighting designers do also?
Lighting design as part of urban design/planning (similarities)
My appreciation of lighting design really started when I joined Martin at a preliminary lighting testing session at His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth. It was there that I ventured to the roof and other behind-the-scenes areas inside the theatre that the public usually don’t get to see. I found this quite exciting. This is also where I saw the magic happen! In a sense it was everything I wanted to see happen from a place-making and urban design point of view, albeit on a smaller scale. It is the cumulative effect of many such projects within a city that leads to vibrant city where people want to be. One thing that I’ve noticed is the importance good lighting plays in making a place work. If you look at lighting design with a social approach, lighting designers similarly explore the connection between people, light, and the urban environment. A quote by New York City based lighting designer Linnaea Tillet:
“You do not want to invite people to do something they have no interest in or are unable to do. Similarly, you don’t want to use lighting to direct people to nowhere.”
In other words, through mindful design, lighting can engage a public space on a human level, and does not merely serve for functionality or security (as is often thought the role of urban lighting is). I have come to appreciate that ultimately successful lighting is determined or achieved by the human response; that what is to be seen clearly, easily and comfortably.
Urban design (as part of urban planning) really is interdisciplinary by nature, as it utilises elements of many other built environment professions such as architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and civil and electrical engineering. In fact, urban design is often practiced by all these disciplines. The ‘public realm’ or ‘public space’ is what they all have in common, namely the way public spaces are experienced and used. One urban design theory often overlooked by urban planners is that of the ‘night time economy’: the design of night time environments that instil feelings of both safety and enjoyment. This is of critical importance to the economic and cultural vitality of urban centers in any city around the world. Good lighting should respond to the use, people and the environment at different times of the day and correspond to a public space as it changes from day to night. In effect, lighting is one element as part of a number of factors that support a social space; yet not to be taken ‘lightly’ (pardon the pun), because it is nonetheless a significant factor.
Early this year saw me re-join KLD with a different set of skills and a new perspective of the industry. Martin asked me to come on board initially with the intention of using my urban planning background in offering local councils in the Perth metropolitan area (and indeed WA for that matter) KLD’s expertise in transitioning from conventional lighting to LED’s. Recent changes in Australian national lighting standards and codes to keep up with the ever evolving LED technology are seeing many local councils with the arduous task of upgrading their lighting systems. Many of the councils are already well down the path of transitioning to LED technology, often with a dedicated officer to oversee the council’s’ lighting being up to date. Nevertheless, my new role as business development manager at KLD has plenty going for it. I took it upon myself to get familiar with the field, the game, the players and the rules; some of which is still in progress. It is not that dissimilar (to use a double negative) to what I was doing at the WA Department of Planning; where my role required me to liaise with big shopping center managers (i.e. Vicinity, Westfield etc.) and gain their cooperation in conducting the Department’s ‘Land Use and Employment Survey’. It often meant doing site visits and presenting data and feedback to both the project team and the proponent. I still liaise! This time with architects, hotel managers and developers for potential projects in the pipeline. To further develop my skills I have even setup lighting presentations for a group of architects, which I will be presenting in the coming months.
The challenges of doing business development in WA
The mentality of architects, developers or owners can often be such that they may ask this question: ‘Why should we pay for lighting design services when it can be done ‘in-house’ (by either the electrical contractor or by a lighting supplier) at no additional cost? It can at times be tricky getting them to recognise the value-added benefits of appointing a lighting designer, in light of the fees charged. So what’s the difference? Well, the electrical engineer will often specify lighting because it is part of the electrical system; likewise an interior designer may specify lighting because they have selected some decorative lighting equipment. Part of my job entails ‘shining the light’ on the long-term paybacks the project will gain that far outweigh the cost. Often a lighting designer can reduce the overall cost of construction or operations. A question I like to ask potential clients is whether ‘good’ illumination is important to their project. I can then discuss what good lighting is and how we may achieve it. The rest is up to the KLD design team! I’m confident KLD has the latest ‘lighting weapons’ in their arsenal to provide specific and professional design solutions that are also cost-effective.
Luckily in my endeavors so far I have come across several architects and developers that do not need to be convinced about the benefits of a lighting designer. For them it’s just a matter of appointing one for a project. For others it’s just a matter of time.
Singapore, HCMC, Nha Trang, Hong Kong, Yangshuo, Singapore weekend 16 -17th April
Yes it was a busy travel week again. I am still in Hong Kong as I prepare this week’s blog. The beginning of the week saw me traveling to Nha Trang (via Cam Rahn airport) for a full consultant’s site meeting for one of our 6 star hotel resorts there .With about 30 consultants, local architects, designers, operator, contractor and client in attendance it was a busy 2 day agenda. On my way back I made a stop-over in HCMC to meet one of Vietnam’s leading architects on who’s team we have been invited for a major city master plan project…I am quite excited about this one. When we kick off the project I will have more to report. After barely 10 hours in Singapore, (dinner and a shot night’s rest) I was of again to Hong Kong and Guilin early in the morning to start with the last little bits and pieces of our Yanghsuo project. This project has all the hallmarks of an award winning project, it’s location along the river in the middle of the Guilin Mountains and a hotel that is build around an old decommissioned sugar cane factory…another 2-3 months and we are on for the opening! Finally after 4 years of very intensive work…
This week we are featuring our good friend Todd Chapman, who recently joined us after we clicked and bonded over our successful Majesty’s Theatre project. It is a new direction for us, but a very important one. From experience we know that 90% of the site issues are realted to installation and having someone like Todd with his vast electrical installation knowledge in our team will be a great asset…welcome Todd!
I’d like to start by thanking Martin for the opportunity to write about my experiences with lighting design. As an electrician and electrical contractor the world of lighting design has come to me in a different way to most of the previous blogs you have read. My experience of lighting design has come from an installation perspective and over the years I have been fortunate to work on a varied array of projects. As a result I have seen the difference lighting design can make to the outcome of a project and more importantly the impact that good lighting design can have! Unfortunately, for all the great projects I have seen, too many times I have also seen projects fall short of their potential due to poor lighting design, budget constraints and poor execution and cooperation from electrical contractors. These factors have all greatly influenced my outlook on what it takes to achieve the best possible lighting design and installation outcome.
I was fortunate enough to be working for a company who were awarded the contract to install the new facade lighting to His Majesty’s Theatre in Perth. The opportunity to light such a beautiful building doesn’t come along every day and I was excited for the project. As Project Manager for this installation I was in a position to make sure that the outcome would honour both the building and the lighting design and was keen to get underway. I met Martin and Stan at one of the first project meetings and could instantly see their passion for the design and commitment to the outcome and I knew that between us we could work towards a common goal.
One of the biggest challenges with a project like this is finding common ground on light fitting locations (this is generally a bone of contention between designers and contractors) but between us we were able to come up with a plan for preliminary night tests with sample fittings. After minimal night tests looking at different aspects of the installation, we were able to agree on exact mounting locations for all fittings that would allow us to get on with the installation with confidence. This also provided the KLD team with the best possible means of adjustment when it came to commissioning.
Once the installation was nearing completion Martin, Stan and Elisa then returned to site for the next round of night tests and the fine tuning began. Aiming the fittings and the requirements for filters were decided for every fitting, colours selected for the LED awning lights and piece by piece everything started to come together. Due to the nature of the installation and the required scaffolding these night tests were carried out in stages with the final test taking place when the scaffolding was removed from site. The KLD team made themselves available for all night tests no matter how late they went and how cold it got and together we were able to come up with an amazing result. I can’t express enough the importance of these tests and the ability and willingness of designers and contractors to work together to achieve the desired outcome….it makes all the difference!
Having worked with KLD on the His Majesty’s Theatre project I was honoured and excited when Martin and Stan offered me the chance to work with KLD directly on more projects. The chance to work with KLD to provide an integrated design and installation approach to their clients is an exciting prospect and one that very few lighting designers or electrical consultants provide. Unfortunately too often lighting design and lighting installation are approached as separate endeavours and it is our hope that we can bridge this gap and provide a better, more efficient and cost effective solution to KLD’s clients encompassing lighting design, installation design, lighting control system design and electrical drawings and specifications.
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…