Sydney, Australia, weekend 11-12 March
This week, as well as next week, we will have one of our recently joined juniors’ blogging about their experiences. It is refreshing as well as educational to hear lighting designer’s thoughts and experiences from different positions within a companies operations. I have always blogged from my position as “the boss”, but getting feedback and stories from other team member’s perspectives has been a real pleasure. While I am currently in Australia, this week it’s Cindy’s story, enjoy…have a great weekend.
Cindy Dong, Junior Lighting Designer
First of all, I’d like to thank Martin for giving this chance to start my first step into blogging as a “lighting designer”. At first, I had no idea how to begin and what to say since I just started learning about lighting design. However, with an encouraging topic given by Martin, ‘shifting from interior designer to lighting designer’, I was able to write about my experience after joining KLD and my first-hand experience with lighting design.
Working as an interior designer
Before I joined KLD, I worked as an interior design consultant in Singapore. Working in an interior design firm, I mainly had to talk to clients and help them on their house renovations. It was quite challenging—not only because it takes time to understand what the clients need and want, but also because there are even more details and considerations to follow up on before the project can be properly handed over. I learned that no project can be beautifully and successfully done in the blink of an eye and that it takes a lot of responsibility, time, technical knowledge, and experience. Although it was tough, I was motivated when I learned new things and see the clients happy with the result; it encouraged me to keep moving forward. Despite that, however, a friend who was working in a lighting consultation firm called me for an interview for an urgent opening of junior designer position. Before this opportunity, I barely knew about lighting design. During the interview, however, this whole ‘lighting’ thing captured my mind. Since then, I couldn’t help but keep searching for more information about lighting design and even purposely went out to the city in the middle of the night to simply observe how the lighting design works and how it impacts the environment. It was so interesting that lighting can create a totally different scene from how it looks during the day.
My perspective is that lighting brings hope to people and enhances the sense of place. I suddenly desired to become a lighting designer who does not only light up the space but also people’s heart. Besides having an admiring heart towards lighting professionals, I started applying to lighting design companies hoping I could learn more about it and gain more experience and skills.
Joining KLD as a junior lighting designer
With hopes and prayer, I was able to find one lighting consultancy’s old post about hiring new staff on a job hunting web site. I remember that it took me nearly a week to find out its address and I unhesitatingly took the opportunity. I prepared my resume and clumsy portfolio and went to visit the company, determined and bracing myself for rejection. J Luckily, the seniors interviewed me on the spot (Martin was travelling abroad at the time). I don’t really remember what I said during the interview; I probably just spat out whatever I had in mind without filtering it because I was too excited and nervous to talk with senior lighting professionals!
Since Joining KLD, I recognized that as a designer, it is essential to have good communicational skills to have a good teamwork and to liaise well with clients and suppliers. I find myself needing a constant training to improve on this so that it won’t hinder me from running projects independently in the future. I am deeply grateful to my colleagues and especially my seniors for their patient mentoring. Now, I am gradually improving in efficiently assisting seniors on document, drawing and rendering works.
Luxury Collection Resort & Spa
I had a chance to be involved and to assist some of the seniors’ projects in various areas like commercial, hotel, and so on. During the first month, Amanda, one of our seniors, gave me a job to assist her on a Luxury Collection Hotel Resort mock up room in Vietnam. It’s a 6-star luxury hotel resort and spa surrounded by the beach and the hills – a good project to start my training (though it was hard working on all the detail drawings). At first I worked without fully digesting the project. But after accompanying Amanda for a meeting with the interior designers recently, I realised this project is a lot more interesting than I had imagined. Because the light will play an important role to beautifully create the harmony between the villa’s (the light spill from interior) and the surroundings at night. It would have been even more exciting if the client had also engaged us for the full landscape lighting design so that we could have integrated lighting design ideas to bring out all the aspects of the nice structures, the oriental elements together with the nature. In this project however we will just review and comment on what the landscape designer proposes
Parkview Square Site Visit
Recently, Cheryline allowed me to join her site meeting at Parkview Square lobby & bar. Wow, that site visit was such an inspiration because I felt like I’m in a different world. Lighting can create a perfect 3D effect, especially on the ceiling, when the right light fitting is installed. When Martin and Cheryline were checking and adjusting all the dimming and angles, I was pretty amazed and that reminded me how lighting brings “life” to space! And that’s why it effectively stimulates the emotions of people and leaves a great impact in their memory. It was another opportunity for me to learn more about the importance of engaging with lighting designers. Cheryline let me be involved in doing its toilet design. I wish I can learn a lot from there as well.
I’ve been working on renderings quite often since I joined, and it’s been really challenging for me as it’s hard to figure out the effect of lightings especially to find out where the light travels. So in order to visualise better, I had to spend some time to go out and see the lights at night. But this Parkview Square visit showed me a lot of lighting effects at once! I believe I can apply my learning here to my rendering works. J
I’d like to end my blog by saying I look forward to many more of these journeys to become a “real” lighting designer.
Singapore, Week 27-3 March 2017
After the senior’s blogs it is time to get some insight in how our juniors experience their work as part of the team. Aishah has been a delightful part of our team, eager to learn and gradually cementing her place within the team. The blog below are Aishah’s words and experience…have a great weekend!
Assisting the seniors
If you have been reading the previous posts, what you will be reading below is the point of view from a junior lighting designer, my point of view :). I started working about 3 years ago. As a junior lighting designer, I was assigned to my assist seniors in their projects, from CAD drawings to Photoshop and documentation. With little knowledge of lighting prior to this, I managed well thanks to the guidance from my seniors, colleagues and Martin. It is very interesting to see how each project takes on different approach in solving issues that we face along the way.
Besides CAD drawing and documentations, I was given the opportunity to tag along with my seniors for site inspection and meetings, whenever necessary. Most of the time I will be taking down the minutes of the meeting and observing my seniors handle the situation i.e. talking to clients, coordinating with other consultants. Being part of a lighting designer, a good communication, discussion and negotiation skills are part of the job while dealing with different groups of people (which I am still learning and admiring how the seniors are able to deal with such situations). It is not all just about the drawings and renderings – though it is still as important and provides good impressions to our client and project team – in reality it is about making things work. By being on site, I get to see drawings turning into reality and sometimes what may seem to work from behind my screen is not entirely the way it is on site. So we have to always be prepared for sudden changes.
Barclays trading office
‘Lighting design draws on technical knowledge but also on creativity’
Currently I am assisting my senior, Amanda, on a renovation project of a trading office in Singapore. We are tasked to provide an optimal lighting solution for a trading office environment. With the given constraints (minimum ceiling space, protruding beams to be avoided and minimum glare and reflections for the TV monitors and traders) we were to select a few options – suspended, recessed, surface mounted – for the light fixture which then needed to be discussed with the interior designer. Ultimately the light has to provide sufficient lighting without any disturbing effects such as glare and a uniformly lit office provides eye comfort when working with PC screens. Therefore, we have to calculate the uniformity and UGR (Unified Glare Rating) to select the best possible fitting all in good consultation with the interior designer.
With the help from Jordan, one of my colleagues, we were able to simulate the lighting effects with selected light fixtures within the desired space using Dialux Evo, the latest issue light calculation software. We had a tough time attaining a good result. When he uniformity was good, the UGR was bad, or vice versa. It took quite some trial and error optimal balance between both, not forgetting to achieve the recommended the lux levels for such office environment. The distance between each light fixture, the mounting height and the quantity determines the above. Within the same brand and product family, there were many options we could choose from. Some products are very similar, they meet our requirements but have different added qualities. To help narrow down our choices, we received some further input from the manufacturer’s sales representative as he some valuable added knowledge of the products from application is similar projects. After many calculations, we manage to eliminate a few products to settle for 4 complying lighting solutions and finalised the options for the ID to choose from. I am very curious to see how our calculations on Dialux will compare to real life.
There is still so much I have yet to grasp and learn in this lighting industry, I hope to gain as much knowledge as I can along the way.
Singapore, Week 20-24 February 2017
This week’s blogger is the third member of my “Charlie’s Angels” team, Amanda Yap. She has been with me for many, many years and is part of my trusted senior lighting designers at KLD. As with the others the blog is pretty much as she wrote it with some minor edits to maintain the original sprit of what Amanda wrote. While not glamorous it is a very real story of life at work as a lighting designer. Have a great weekend!
Amanda Yap, senior lighting designer
So, this week it is my turn to write the blog for Light Talk. It feels just like “yesterday” that I helped out Martin to create Light Talk’s blog layout template, exploring and understanding how these blogs work. Now it’s my turn to be one of the writers. 🙂
Singapore residential landscape renovation project
This is a project that requested our services to have a look at the existing landscape lighting and provide them with a recommendation for a ‘touch up” basically an upgraded lighting design. When Martin handed me this, I was worried and told him about my concern that the review of landscape area required someone with quite an experience in auditing of outdoor lighting (I had no previous experience in lighting audits) as well as an understanding of the nature of plants and typical outdoor lighting problems. But with Martin’s support assurance, I bravely took up this job and ended up reviewing the site a few times during the design process. Now, finally, this project is at the stage of awarding the contract to one of the tenderers.
With Martin’s support and together with my colleagues who came with me to the site to help me doing the surveys, we learned a lot. Before finalizing the tender award, we had requested for visual mock ups of specific areas on site. I had arranged for the light fitting deliveries on site and with the help of my colleagues Aishah and Jordan (for some extra manpower) we managed to have everything run smoothly that day. When finally the time for testing came we were all anxious and excited as we had waited for the night to arrive. Through careful location planning of the test areas we had managed to minimize time consuming moving around of the different light fitting types. The visual mock ups we did consisted lighting up a 30m high column and two different types of trees while testing out different aiming and mounting positions in the process. Each of the 3 tests was carried out 3 times (!) as we were evaluating light fitting submissions from 3 different tenderers.
Checking out other mounting positions and angles had become necessary as we found during the testing of the lighting effects that the original locations caused potential glare. Importantly the resident manager had joined us for the visual mock up sessions which allowed us to explain the differences between the different types of fixtures and show the different effects of varying colour temperatures. We were able to show that our proposed cooler colour temperature for the landscape trees enhanced the predominant tones of blue and green, allowing the leaves of the trees to look more lively and green. At the same time we demonstrated that the use of warmer colour temperatures left the leaves of the tree look a more unnatural yellowish green. The visual testing on site took us well over 2 hours but we are now confident that, as this project proceeds into installation, we will see a great end result.
Club houses in Desaru, Malaysia
Like Cheryline and Grace, I also went for my first overseas trip of the year (but by car instead of plane). My trip to Desaru was for 2 projects located close to each other in the same golf resort project. As both projects are coming to their completion, this site visit had as task to check if the site had been installing the lights as per our design specifications and to carry out some final testing and aiming on site. It was not my first visit to the project site and to be more efficient on site, I usually go with my colleague, Aishah. This trip generally takes 2 days and 1 night and we have to plan our time well as these 2 sites are not really within walking distance. To complicate things further they are not constructed and managed by the same group of people. The first thing we did when we reached Desaru (after a 2 + hour drive from Singapore), is to walk both sites thoroughly checking the lighting installation for design compliance, defects and outstanding works. Then only at night when it is dark we can continue to test and check the lighting effects. The main purpose of this trip for one of the sites was to test the dimming installation, but as we only found out on arrival the programmer couldn’t make it. While this is frustrating and seemingly very disrespectful, it is unfortunately quite common in Asia, even though it was confirmed prior to the trip. We will now have to postpone the fine tuning and programming of dimming scenes to a next trip, another additional cost for the client…
The truth with both project sites as with many in Asia is that there is not enough budget planned for lighting, whether by choice from the client or through inexperience of the QS and as a result almost all light fixtures installed on site were much cheaper alternative fixtures. It highlights the dilemma of lighting designers…stick to your specifications or compromise…In the process the contractor (also likely on a very tight budget) hopes that you will not be too picky and tell them that their lighting positions and fixture installations are acceptable. We have been to site many times and the same lighting issues that were highlighted before still look untouched and as bad as we had seen it the last time. Whenever we can we force the contractors to rectify it on the spot, one by one, with us beside them in order to get even simple things done like readjusting an interior or exterior light fixture.
Not surprisingly therefore our trip to Desaru ended with a long, long list of defects and outstanding works in our report. I hope that our next trip will be a more fruitful trip!
Singapore, Week 13-17 February 2017
This week’s blogger is Grace Eng another one of my long serving staff and a senior lighting designer at KLD. While I have edited some minor things, the blog is pretty much as per original writing as I want to maintain the authenticity of each individual as much as possible. enjoy the read, have a great weekend!
Grace Eng, senior lighting designer
It was only after Martin reminded me yesterday that I realised that this week it is my turn to write the blog! I cracked my head overnight thinking about the topic to blog about, but here it is :).
First I would like to start this blog by telling you how I became a lighting designer. I graduated with an Engineering Degree and was hunting the ideal job (with hopes that I would get one) through Jobstreet back in 2005. It was this post of a company looking for a Junior Lighting Designer that caught my attention. I wondered what job it was and what a lighting designer does. Does a lighting designer design a light fixture? With my head full of questions and out of curiosity I clicked on the advertisement to find out more about the responsibilities and requirements for a lighting designer, mostly because never in my life I had thought that a job as lighting designer existed!
After I had a look at the responsibilities section and the company website, I got a rough idea about what a lighting designer actually does! But then other questions popped up in my mind. Shouldn’t the lighting design in a space not be taken care by an Interior Designer…or an Electrical Engineer? Why is there a separate need for such expertise? With all these questions in my head, I decided to “find out” more by clicking on the “Apply” button. After a week I was lucky enough to receive a reply telling me that they wanted to interview me for this post. Without hesitation, I bought a bus ticket from Malaysia travelled about 10 hours to Singapore for this interview.
Yeah, we know what happens during an interview for a fresh graduate and junior post…in the first part you introduce yourself, in the second part you discuss your skills, experiences followed by some Q+A. The last part in this interview that really opened my eyes was where I was being explained about my responsibilities in detail along with nice project images! I got really excited about this job and it changed my mind that I should stop applying for boring engineering jobs. After a second interview by Martin, I was then offered the job as a junior lighting designer. As a fresh graduate student, and had never studied or heard anything about lighting, Martin guides and teaches me with his great patience, enthusiasm and care. I have been working for Martin for many years now and all the while I do not see him as my “Boss” (the Asian way of calling). In fact i see Martin as a lecturer and a motivator as he teaches, inspire and encourage all of us in the office along the way.
The dazzling beauty of light does not appear until the sky gets dark. No matter how great a building or the interior design is, it is nothing if there is no light to enhance it! We are the lighting people!
China Cup Luxurious Yacht Project.
I started my 1st oversea business trip of this year for the above mentioned project in China a week before the Chinese New Year where we had to do a lighting concept presentation to the clients. As the client does not understand English well, my task was to translate Martin’s words into Mandarin, a difficult task as I’m not a professional translator. In the later part of the presentation I decided to use my own words in Chinese to present it to the client which felt much easier. The client was happy with our concept and we are now in the DD process. As I do not have much experience in yacht lighting, the process in specifying the highly specialised marine grade fixtures takes longer than usual, which was further complicated by the fact that we did not find (unlike for the typical architectural lighting fixtures for buildings) local representatives in Singapore for the mostly European based specialist manufacturers. While it slows down the process in getting the right fixture, we are lucky to have had good positive response from the specialised lighting manufacturers that we had identified for yacht lighting.
Xitang Resort Project
After we had finished our meeting with the yacht client, we took a domestic flight from Shenzhen to Shanghai. As it happened the days we spent in Shanghai were one of the coldest days in Shanghai! It was 3 degree during the day and around freezing point (0 degr) at night. As this was the third progress presentation of our concept to the client, the content of the presentation was more an update with mainly renderings and an exciting animation 3D movie, we had made. The client was impressed by our presentation and were graciously thanked for our efforts after we completed our presentation (you can always tell when the client and the team applauds when you finish the presentation!). Despite the peak travel time at the eve of Chinese New Year we managed to get our flight back to Singapore. The next day morning I received a Wechat from the client again mentioning to me that our presentation yesterday was great! It is nice to have such feedback from a client as it shows that our hard work is being appreciated and it is important to keep our standard high.
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.
Singapore- Shenzhen- Guilin- Yangshuo- Bangkok- Singapore – Sydney, Xmas Weekend 24 – 25 December 2016
And so we have arrived at the end of the last working week of the year (at least for our office). We closed at noon today (Friday) and before I fly off to Sydney for my Xmas holidays with family and friends in the early hours tomorrow morning, I tussle between writing my blog and last minute issues to be resolved with those clients (mainly Chinese) who as always do not follow our Xmas tradition and for some reason do not seem to understand that we are shutting down till the new year and keep pushing for resolve on some issues. One of our projects here in Singapore nota bene plans to commission on the 31st of December! Only the installation contractor and the client seem to be present as all other lead consultants including ourselves are gone fishing! Having just returned from China yesterday questions and issues keep crowding the airwaves on another project that has kept us on the edge till the last minute before we locked the office.
Overall it has been a satisfying week and for that matter a very satisfying year! We are ending on a high and look forward to another great year ahead. It will be my last blog for a while as I have not decided what to do in the new year. As I mentioned before I have some new plans but I will decide in January how to kick them off! This last week of the year started on Sunday with an early rise and flight to Shenzhen for kick-off work meeting on Sunday (my fault because I had no other date available, but the client and project team obliged, thanks!), a typical Chinese drink-dinner at night, followed by another early rise on Monday for a 3 hour high speed train trip to Guilin and a 1+ hour road trip to Yanghsuo. Our two day site meeting (also requested by us in view of the Xmas holidays) resolved many issues and saw us flying back via Bangkok on Wednesday. Yesterday and today saw us wrap up the trip and final deliverables for other projects before the holidays.
This trip served two purposes, first we met with a new client for a very exciting new project (design due before Chinese New Year!) and a kick off meeting with the design team at their offices. The client is involved with the China Cup Yachting competition and we are “literally on board” for the lighting design of their hospitality VIP yacht. Due to confidentiality I cannot share any photo’s but is is an exciting project. During the diner later in the evening our client boss made a for me historic statement. He had enough of project that were continuously cost cutting and value engineering, in his opinion we should focus on earning more money! “Stop cutting costs! Let’s try earn more money!” Yeah…way to go! We also used the opportunity to have a catch up design workshop with the same design team with whom we are on another project together, the client graciously making their offices available to us. we did use the opportunity to show of our design skills and called the client in to have a look at our presentations to great admiration…they were duly impressed. Let’s hope we can now fulfil the expectations we have created!
After a short night and a heavy head (from the night before drinking J) we got up in the early hours to catch the high speed train and after 3 hours and another good hour by car we arrived on site in Yangsuo around noon. After the obligatory tour to get a feel of the progress on site we got down to business planning and organising the visual mock ups and reviewing site installation details. While the day time was used to prepare, the night time was reserved for reviewing and signing off on the lighting effects. As the night falls early in the approaching winter, we managed to do the night viewing straight at nightfall with a late dinner afterwards. As in so many projects we are facing a disconnect between the site contractors used to do things the China way and the lead consultants who have “slightly” different standards when it comes to quality and protocols and an “emergency” meeting was called on Tuesday to discuss with the team specifically what is need for reliable dimming for LED’s. The site is still in incandescent phase dimming mode and look at you with a blur look when you start talking about 0-10V protocols (let alone DALI or other!). Our last minute flurry of emails and messages was exactly about trying to resolve all that, but by the looks of it, we will only be a le to do that after the holidays…aaaargh…will they ever learn?
I leave you with some mood pictures of my travel the site and other images giving you a feel of this last week on the road! See you in the New Year some time…
Enjoy your Xmas weekend and a very happy and successful New Year!
Singapore, Weekend 17 – 18 December 2016
This week was fully dedicated to shooting video footage for our corporate video, which we will launch in 2017 together with our revamped website. My daughter Kyra, who runs her own production company Kyramedia, came to Singapore, all equipped, to shoot staff interviews, work sessions, project meetings, site visits and client testimonials which will all find their way into the final edit. She developed a script and storyline that will highlight what we stand for, what differentiates us from the pack and how the client experience of our services have made a difference. It is not an easy task but I have full confidence after this week and having seen some of the footage that she has shot, that we will end up with a corporate video showcasing our capabilities that we can be proud of.
Work sessions, deliverables
During the week we filmed several of our internal work meetings such as work sessions from the various project teams, individual staff at work, drafting, designing, rendering, all these typical activities that make out what we do in our office while showing actual deliverable outcomes on computer etc. One of the key aspects of our services is the creation of lighting design concepts, hence we put quite some attention into showcasing our design process, the sketching, the rendering, the imagery, the modelling and visualisation of spaces including dynamic walk-through. The future of visualisation is truly getting very exciting for lighting.
We also conducted individual interviews of each staff from which we will use relevant outtakes and footage that will give a personalised feel of the company. After all the company is as good as its people and adding the personal touch is critical to reflex the human aspect of the company. Everyone brings something to the company and to our clients irrespective of their position, they all contribute to the final success and to how the company is perceived by others. Being put in front of a camera was also an interesting experience for many and some of the unprepared answers gave us some hilarious moments. Thanks for putting up with it!
Project and supplier meetings
Important aspect of our work are obviously the interaction and communication with our clients, fellow consultants and suppliers. We taped several of these meetings in our office as well as outside. Lighting design is team work and showing of the coordination and consultation with the parties involved in the process of design are therefore very relevant. Actually filming and focussing on this aspect also made us realise how relevant and important this is in our design process.
Since the corporate video and some of the footage will be used on our new website we also organised a coordination meeting with our web designers to make sure it all moved in the right direction. We are equally excited about our new website that is getting into shape. Our website has been around for the last 5 years and the navigation was getting a bit dated as well as the graphics. Time for a new fresh and trendy look! With todays world of social media we have to keep up with the times!
We also took the opportunity to go to site and shoot some footage of our interaction with client and contractors, inspecting the lighting installation works, the testing of lights and making sure lights are properly linked up to the respective lighting controls. We had the suppliers on site as well so we could physically test some samples in their proposed locations and get feedback on improvement options if some of the lighting results were not to satisfaction. In our work it is critical to supervise the installation and hence our project site visits have to feature as part of our service deliverables.
We will also have snapshots of our projects in the video but more as a background or short illustration complement rather than physically making them part of the actual video. Our website will feature these projects extensively so we do not want the video to focus too much on all the projects we have done, but more about the team behind the success of the company.
For this reason we also went to interview some of our clients and collaborators to collect some relevant and valuable testimonials. Most of our work is through referrals so it is logical that client and collaborator testimonials will feature in our corporate video. From a personal point of view it was very nice to hear them highlight what they like about the company, what in their opinion sets us apart and why they like recommending and working with us. Great and motivating stuff! Thanks for those great testimonials!
Annual staff dinner
Fittingly the week ended with our annual staff dinner to which husbands and spouses were also invited, our extended family! It was a great evening in which each individual received an award (also known as the KLD “Oscars”) in recognition of outstanding work and performance by each of the team. It is a great occasion to acknowledge each ones contribution in a relaxed setting this time and a waterside restaurant at Marina Bay. Thanks everyone for the outstanding efforts over the past year!
Enjoy your weekend
Perth, Weekend 10 – 11 December 2016
My last working week in Perth this year, but what an exciting week it was. We are laying the groundworks for next year with new projects in the pipeline and catching up with project clients before their upcoming Xmas break (summer holidays in Australia) was crucial. While the general consensus is that the economies are down and many not sure what the future will bring (including the uncertainty surrounding the incoming Trump administration, Brexit and increased populist movements around the world) there still seems to be a lot in the pipeline. We have our work cut out for the remainder of the year and will definitely end on a high, but securing longevity and continuity for the company in the coming year and years is a constant focus and hence taking the time to meet, catch up and follow up with potential new project clients is a must, certainly now. Often when economies are down, design work is undertaken so that plans and design documents are ready to go when the economies start moving again.
John Glenn and the City of Light
As I write this blog news is breaking that the first astronaut to fly around the earth in the sixties, John Glenn just passed away aged 95. It is specifically significant for Perth as when he flew over Australia at night Perth stood out and he called Perth the City of Light, a nick name that has stuck all those years, even though Paris is now probably more famous for it. The reason that Perth stood out so brightly is that it was surrounded by outback countryside with virtually no other lights for thousands of kilometres. Today Perth is still very much spared from the pollution that many cities suffer throughout the world, we still have beautiful starry nights. I still remember John Glenn’s flight as I remember the first landing on the moon a few years later. I was fascinated by the space race and still have the newspaper cuttings from that time. John by the way went back into space at the ripe age of 77 years to become the oldest man ever to fly in space. See more at the link below:
Lighting Designer Performance Bond?
During the week I received a message from our Jakarta office asking me if I could provide a performance bond, which was a demand by a potential client and to be submitted as part of our fee proposal! From my experience performance bonds are asked from contractors and generally relate to big contracts, not the relatively minute contract of a lighting designer. The performance bond requested was 20%of the fee! We discussed this as I felt uncomfortable and a bit alarmed that a client would ask for a bond. So far we have never had to provide a performance bond as a lighting designer. We have asked suppliers and contractors to provide them as part of tender submissions, but then we are talking about millions worth of contracts, not a few thousand dollars for LD fees. Anyhow we submitted with the statement that a performance bond could be provided on signing of a mutually agreeable contract arrangement. The idea being that if the client does not trust us to deliver, we wanted to make sure that with the provision of the bond we will also have “watertight” terms and conditions in regards to their payment commitments to us. It has to work both ways don’t you think?
Is there a future in wind farms?
During the week I was surprised to read an article in regards to failing wind farms (those who provide energy by huge wind mills) in South Australia. The article claimed that quite often the wind farms broke down (made in China?) or either there was too much (auto switch-off) or not enough wind resulting in an average of only 8% energy being delivered by the wind farms rather than the capacity of 40% that they are supposed to deliver! As a result the article claimed that there was insufficient power available in the grid and assistance from neighbouring states was called in to top up the shortage of energy supply. Big question marks were raised about the future of wind farms, not only because of the failure to deliver, but also because the costs and visual disturbance these monsters create. Having them out at sea out of view is maybe acceptable, but having a forest of these monsters in our natural landscape is another story all together. The judges are still out on this one I guess and personally I am also not sure what to think of it…we do need renewable energy, but can’t we find more ingenious ways to harvest wind energy?
Life on Perth.
During the week we followed up on several projects and had the opportunity to revisit one of our recently completed projects, one that is up for an heritage award, the former Palace Hotel at the corner of Williams and St Georges Terrace in Perth. The architect of the project, Woods Bagot, decided afterwards to move their offices in the building and they did a marvellous job in refurbishing the interiors to fit their architectural studio needs. The building is quickly becoming an icon of the city. We followed up on one of our projects in Kalgoorlie where the client is keen to convert an existing installation into new LED technology, acknowledging in the process the need for expert input to make that transition smoothly. I wish more clients would acknowledge that rather than talk to biased lighting suppliers! The upgrade of the uniting churches in the city to replace and improve the lighting with new LED technology and other lighting features is moving into full documentation and should result in a final package for presentation, approval and implementation go-ahead in the early part of the next year! We look forward to that…
Enjoy your weekend
Singapore, Weekend 3 – 4 December 2016
The end of the year is approaching rapidly which means that we are wrapping up on some projects in regards to deadlines to be completed before the Xmas holidays and looking ahead to the New Year, what it will bring and how we should prepare ourselves for an even bigger and better year ahead. Normally I stop blogging in December but I have decided to go on till the last week of December before Xmas and then take a bigger break in January. I am also planning to change the approach to my blog as there are new things in the pipeline for the New Year. First I will open up my blog to guest writers, they maybe from my own team, they may be suppliers we work with or architects and clients that we have worked with in close cooperation. It will remain a weekly blog, at least that is the plan and while I free up my blog writing time by inviting guest writers, I am preparing to launch exciting new educational lighting design modules, Light Talk re-arranged and revisited you could say, in which I am combining my almost 37 years of knowledge and experience with my blog writings from the last 7 years in down loadable bundles and packages rearranged and reorganized in and around specific subjects of interest. It may ultimately result in another book, we will see. I can’t say too much about it right now but keep an eye on this blog for further announcements in the New Year. All I can say is that I am really excited about it and hope that many of you will enjoy this new way of experience and knowledge sharing…
Staff reward time.
It has been a good year for us so logically this is the time as a company boss I need to think about rewarding my staff for all the great work they have put in this year. I am very grateful for the team that I have and how they have stepped up this year to deliver our service to our clients and business relations above and beyond expectation. There is no doubt that a well-deserved bonus is in place and potential salary rises may also form part of the equation. It is a careful deliberation as it needs to be done in consideration of the future economic growth forecast so that any bonuses and salary increases can be sustained. So gratefulness needs to be balanced with sound financial sense so the decision will have to be made in consideration of our current situation and forecasted financial outlook. But I know I am in a position to reward my staff which is good, how much will be a matter careful deliberation. I will make my final decisions when I do the individual staff reviews in the coming weeks. For now we have planned a big end of the year dinner with all staff and family to see of the year in style.
New Year plans.
One of our New Year plans is to launch our revamped website which is currently being redesigned. We are very excited about that. Part of this exercise is also the production of a corporate video which is being produced by my own daughter Kyra, who has a media production company. I am delighted that she has taken on the job and later in December she will come to Singapore to do some shoots in our head office and tour some of our project sites as part of the storyline. Other developments that are cooking in our office are new presentation programs and platforms. There is no doubt that computer technology has evolved enormously and making use of new opportunities in the rendering and visualisation of lighting effects should be embraced, which is what we are currently doing. We are testing and working on multiple new approaches and will over the course of the next year gradually introduce them to our clients. Once we are on the ball with these I will share with you. For now you will understand I prefer to keep a little competitive edgeJ. On a side note, as someone who likes manual sketching, I bought myself the latest digital Moleskine sketchbook, the one with a pen that automatically transfers your drawing onto a digital platform, which can be your tablet, mobile phone or laptop as long as you down load the app. I have tried it but have so far found it not as “magical” as advertisements are making you believe. I probably need more practice, but so far I find it disappointing and will probably refer to my old-fashion hand sketches which I then just scan for further sharing.
Park View Square and other projects
Our PVS project in Singapore meanwhile is shaping up nicely. We went through several toe-wringing sessions with the team and the installation contractor with some serious doubts whether we would be able to achieve our design to the full ability, bovver the course of the last two weeks with an intensified attendance and cooperation it seems that the hard work is paying off. Not all projects run smoothly and there are often periods where tensions run high due to time constraints, unexpected setbacks or other. Communication and cooperation towards finding the solution rather than pointing fingers has always worked best and I am pleased to see that is what we are seeing now. It can only benefit a great outcome! On another project overseas which I can’t really name because of high sensitivities we are facing a totally different situation. The contractor who took on full responsibility to supply and install has spectacularly failed to deliver totally underestimating the amount of work and expertise needed to complete this highly sophisticated façade lighting project. It refused to pay for the supplier/ manufacturer’s service package for installation, testing and commissioning (to save money) and now find themselves stumbling at every step of the way. Because of the contractual arrangements, both the lighting supplier and ourselves are more or less side-lined and why we have been to site many times it is not our scope to project manage the completion of the site installation to satisfaction. The client in desperation has been trying to force us into the role of project managing the completion of the job but we have steadfastly stood our ground. We have already out of goodwill supported and coordinated well beyond our scope, but the client also needs to respect the way they have structured the contracts and if anything beyond that is needed they would have to fork out the related fees or get the contractor to pay for the additional expert services to bring it to a good end…hopefully this will now happen and we will finally be able to properly finish this project…what a difference a project makes.
We also received some new high res pictures of our Raffles Hotel Jakarta project that opened a few months ago, some photos below.
Enjoy your weekend!
Singapore, Weekend 26 – 27 November 2016
You may notice that I am not travelling a lot at the moment…It could be a sign of slowing economy or simply because we are delivering our work to such satisfaction that our clients are happy to carry on without having expensive meetings :). We do have a lot (really a lot) of communication via Skype, WeChat, Whatsapp groups, which seems to be gaining a lot of popularity. Many of our projects have these chat groups that include client, project manager, design consultants and depending on the progress of the project the site and contractor team as well. Instant messaging, photo and video exchange make communication very fast and practically in real time! It works well for us in our projects and helps reduce the number of design and coordination meetings specifically on site significantly. Though as I am writing this I am getting pictures sent through from our project in Tahiti (yes very far away) which shows the installed lighting mock up producing a poor lighting result. The client says they bought as per spec and from our recommended supplier…while I have my doubts and cannot really verify from here we will sort that out on Monday, but this is a typical situation where long distance communication is a big challenge and just being on site allows you to correct or rectify the situation on the spot. For now on the pictures it definitely looks too spotty and too bright. In a client’s mind there are many different interpretations of what “as specified” means. There is of course the possibility that we did not specify the correct light, but I think we did…we will find out…
Smart lighting controls.
This week we also dived into the world of smart lighting controls by meeting representatives of Esave, Schreder and Casambi to get a better feel of the various systems that are available and the protocols they follow. There are several platforms available, from the standard “ZigBee” platform through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. While they principally target the same results, some seem to be more advanced and reliable than others in terms of outreach and coverage, network response and operational features. We are researching this currently for our city master planning project which is focussed on outdoor lighting, our general interest in smart controls is in regards to all applications, interiors or exteriors. There is no denying that the future is in smart controls and understanding the opportunities will help us in our design work. One of the key issues is often the proprietary aspect of a system, with many clients wanting to have system that is not limited to one brand only. At this point in time many of them are still proprietary. In general it seems that the more advanced systems are nearly limitless in their capabilities with new features still being developed as the IoT makes further inroads into the lighting industry. From ROI calculations it becomes clear that besides the energy savings from LED conversion a further big saving (20-50%) can be achieved by dimming the lights to minimum levels when there is no usage of the road or space with ROI’s that can achieved within the first 1-2 years already!
Towards “invisible” lighting
As it also happened we met with Rosco (which we mostly know for their filters) who are now moving strongly promoting the improved features of their LitePad product. The interesting part being that it can be shaped (2d and 3D!) in practically any form to suit. While it was being demo’d as a square tile, it can take one any shape in principle. It can have a mirrored back ground but it can also be imagined and a see-through bringing another dimension to the product. The overriding trend I want to highlight here is the move from firstly non-architectural lighting players into the world of architectural lighting, but also the move towards highly integrated products that become part of the built environment without it really being perceived as a light source when switched off. I also met with a company called ETN which promotes the ORA brand in cooperation with a company (EDL) leaders in the production of laminates. ORA is a sound system that can be built invisibly into (behind) the laminate, needing less then 70mm space. While this is not a lighting product it does show the way that lighting will undoubtedly move as well…invisibly integrated into the environment, windows becoming light, walls becoming light, floors becoming light…with the development of micro-LED and RGB Laser fast progressing the days of visible light sources will soon be numbered…I also read up about magnetic LED lighting, that allows you to put a magnetic light tile anywhere you want, or compose patterns to personalise your space with control by app or hand motion…
Finally I leave you with something I did not know existed…a white rainbow. It is apparently a phenomenon that is produced by tiny droplets of fog, which has much weaker colours and appears as white, also known as a fog bow. It can apparently also be created by moon light (moon bow) rather than sun light for the same reason. Regardless the photo that appeared in the media was stunning.
Enjoy your weekend