Singapore- Shanghai- Singapore and Medan, Weekend 18-19th August 2018
After two days of meetings in Singapore it was off travelling again, this time to site in Xitang, a water town project just outside Shanghai we have been working on for a few years now. I have managed to reduce my project travel but once in a while they want to see my face to make sure I am still involved and can sign off on important design decisions. This is a very good client who values our expertise and when it comes to quality agrees that you get what you pay for. While conscious of budget he is also very conscious of quality which makes our communication and client appreciation much easier.
As I write this blog I am in Medan, Indonesia, where I am spending the weekend at the invitation of a new project client, after a short overnight stay in Singapore. The travelling and subsequent site visit are cause for the late posting of my blog this weekend…
In the first part of the week we met for our Punggol project to understand what the government really means with implementing smart lighting. Having been brought back into the project by the architect we were confronted by the fact that the “smart” consultant had already decided on what smart components to be integrated into the lighting poles, basically daylight sensors, presence sensors and WiFi capability with their proposed pole locations showing the good quality reach of each WiFi point! You can hardly call presence and daylight sensors smart nowadays, it is quite common practice, but that the pole location was directed by the coverage was a novelty for us. We took note of the plans and informed them we would redesign according to the lighting needs and not the WiFi needs! All kinds of political issues also play in the background with different departments having different relationships to different smart pole manufacturers…most governmental department are vertically connected with very little horizontal coordination it seems…anyhow we will do our best to resolve that with a design that considers lighting first but all other “smart” components as well…
We recently received acceptance for our LDoT trademark application and had some further meetings with IP specialists to understand our worldwide position. We are a small company and enforcing a trademark in countries like China may be very difficult but we feel that registering it at least will give us some peace of mind. We are excited about the potential of our LDoT platform and have received great feedback soo far 😊
The rest of the week was spent onsite at our Xitang project, a huge intricate development that requires a lot of interaction with all parties involved, both for the commercial as well as the hotel parcel. The client has been full of praise about our Alila Yangshuo project and it was therefore not really a surprise to see that he had engaged a part of the original Yangshuo site installation team to help him in completing this project to the highest standards. For us it is also very good, we worked together in Yanghsuo for many years and having familiar people on site who know your way of work and drive for details is really helpful in achieving the standards we require. Besides successfully reviewing the mock up room, which we needed to sign off on so they can start implementing the wiring for all guestrooms, we spent most of our time reviewing samples from a variety of Chinese suppliers, some good, but most really bad. It is always interesting to see the difference in approach when they show you their samples. The “educated” suppliers know you are looking for quality, but the majority of the Chinese suppliers are focussed on price and show “look-a-like” quality to then impress with the price and unfortunately many developers in China (Asia) fall for it. Fortunately, we have an educated client and were able to show the team what makes or breaks quality and shortlisted the light fittings that made the cut, 5 suppliers and 1 ½ day later 😊! For us it is specifically critical to highlight the quality criteria (Colour binning, glare control, IP rating, etc) and installation issues such as wire connections, driver compatibility, inline mounting, and so on. Making everyone aware of the potential installation issues we may face at the tender award stage will ensure a much smoother installation result. We spent the time and will continue with visual mock ups later on to make sure we get it right before we proceed to final installation.
Despite a typhoon passing over Shanghai which produced heavy rainfall we managed to reach the airport in time for a safe trip back to Singapore with the satisfied feeling that we had accomplished a lot with hopefully some peace of mind later on!
There was however little time to rest as I was back at Changi airport at 10am for the Medan flight. The project is a renovation of an historic art deco building that houses a large ballroom, pre-function and restaurant. The client has never used specialist consultants before but realised he was out of his depth for this project. We came recommended through one of his trusted suppliers. We spent the day working the site and assessing the options for the renovation. He and his team seem very quality conscious, not once did we talk money…the signs are very good…
Have a great (rest of the) weekend!
Xitang site, completed part of the commercial block
the hotel block site
flooded entrance (typhoon)
Meetings (late night and day time…)
Mock Up Room review at night
Supplier sample review
Checking colour qualities…
the walk over test?…
T-shirts you see in China… 🙂
Singapore, Weekend 11-12th August 2018
A short week for most people with Thursday 9th August being Singapore’s National Day and many taking Friday off to make it a nice long weekend. I decided to work from home on Friday to have a relaxed end of the week. The early part of the week however was very hectic and busy with Ingmar coming over from our Perth office for some crucial LDoT meetings with JLL, Liquid Labs and Gooee who visited our offices for some strategic meetings and workshops.
LDoT: JLL – Liquid Labs @ District 6
Our first meetings were with JLL and District 6 to discuss our Liquid Labs marketing implementation at District 6. KLD through our LDoT platform are partnering with Gooee to showcase how LDoT is going to work. It is our first real life project implementation, so we are really excited about it. District 6 is a one of the latest successful co-working spaces in Singapore founded by one of our former Agora speakers Arjan De Boer. The cooperation with JLL as part of Propel Asia is an extra incentive. Other participants are companies like Dell, Vodaphone, Haworth Furniture and others. While most of them have individual smart systems, our Gooee backbone should be able to connect all these through their open platform…we aim to have it operational in the last Q of the year. It is extra challenging as we are integrating the system in an existing environment rather then starting from scratch so we have an added difficulty in making sure all the systems and lights are compatible, connectable and addressable! Will keep you posted…
LDoT and other partners
Besides our cooperation with JLL and Gooee we are also looking at linking up with other partners as well as lighting manufacturers keen to make the switch to the new world of IoT. We had conference calls and meetings this week with those that are “switched on” and ready to collaborate. Lighting manufacturers that are making or planning to making the switch.
Right now, people are either switched on for the new world that awaits us or are totally oblivious to it. I have found no-one in between, either they see it or they don’t. Most lighting designers I know are still thinking the conventional way. I heard the president of the IALD say in Frankfurt earlier this year when he participated in an IoT round the table conference that, yes, IoT was here, but that lighting designers are artists, story tellers, he did not see IoT of much impact to lighting designers…
My personal opinion…the train for the lighting designers of the future is at the train station right now, either you jump on board or risk being left behind…Hence our full-on drive towards developing our Lighting Design of Things platform.
LDoT; the relationship between people, space and “things”
We see now that some people start to wake up…I read in Lux Magazine that Gordon Routledge just discovered the 3-30-300 rule (or 1-10-100 as others use), a relationship that was put forward by JLL some time ago to high light that when it comes to the bottom line, energy saving does not mean that much in the scheme of things. Its space usage and human capital that are the game changers of tomorrow. Today, thanks to LED technology we have already maximised energy saving and with some additional smart controls we can possibly add a bit more, but the real savings are elsewhere and to achieve those we need the IoT, we need data analytics and we need to understand the relationships between people, space and “things” over time and in real time. That fact that lighting turns out to be the key choice for hosting the IoT platform should be seen as a big opportunity. As lighting designers, if we convert ourselves towards LDoT we have potentially a big role to fulfil!
The future of the lighting industry
It was interesting to read that Osram is quitting the light fixture manufacturing business and sort of in line with Philips (Signify) moving to become an innovative smart systems company, at least that is what I understand. I understand the GE’s name is also to disappear and Zumtobel is also struggling to stay a float after serious losses over the first part of the year. Why is the lighting industry under threat? Because the entry point for lighting and lighting design is moving way down stream. For the future proofing of buildings developers and end users are looking at the IoT, its impact on people, space and things and hence the related data infra-structure needed. Lighting is becoming a by-product. Lighting is already a digital hub, however the functions it will soon be able (read: will have) to perform will be way more than just lighting functions and unless we master all these “by-functions”, it will be difficult for lighting manufacturers to survive and lighting designers to maintain the integrity of their lighting design!
Ah, I nearly forgot…the gala dinner venue has now officially been announced on the PLDC website. We have secured the Wine Vault, an of the beaten track venue that little people even in Singapore know…discover it on the website! 😊 Frank Kelly, who heads KLD’s entertainment division has been working relentlessly in between his shows and travels to develop the design for the gala dinner…its going to be a great night!
Have a great weekend!
a little taste of what is to come…
Perth – Singapore, Weekend 4-5th August 2018
Australia provides a contrast to Singapore in many ways. It is nearly a complete opposite way of living and working. Singapore has basically no seasons, it’s always 30 degrees and humid, in the “winter” it rains a bit more than in the “summer”. As I was in Perth the night time temperatures got close to freezing point, with daytime temperatures just itching towards 15 degrees. Rains, storms and sunshine followed each other in totally unpredictable sequences. Where Singapore has a rush and hectic city work-life, with literally millions of people falling over each other, Perth has that laid back life style feeling combined with space and nature with family time playing as an important part as work life. It always recharges my batteries to spent time in my Perth office…
SILF – Lighting Design Agora
First some sad news…after months of hard work and efforts to organise the Lighting Design Agora (an integral component of the Shanghai International Lighting Fair organised by Messe Frankfurt HK) that had been halted earlier this year when the City of Shanghai wanted to actively participate in the event, we found ourselves running out of time to adequately prepare and organise a quality event, certainly after last years highly successful edition. We had to concede that we could not be able to attract enough sponsors this year to make the event with international speakers, commercially viable. We needed our international sponsors to be part of the event. So, with a heavy heart, we decided this week, in consultation with Messe Frankfurt and the Chinese Lighting Designers Association, that is was better to cancel the event and focus our energy and efforts in creating an even bigger and better event next year.
The pulling power of PLDC
When PLDC announced its unexpected intention to hold the convention in Singapore it caught many manufacturers by surprise as no-one had budgeted for it. Over the months that followed several of the sponsors that had initially committed and budgeted for our LDA in Shanghai, decided to redirect their budgets towards participation in Singapore. This happened to other events in the region as well. Our Bangkok event was also seriously affected by it even though we just managed to make it work. It is a credit to the organisers of PLDC and the attraction it has to sponsors and participants, it is a shame however that it was done seemingly on the spur of the moment with little thought on the impact it would have on the region. There is no doubt that the event and its educational format contributes a lot to the awareness and acceptance of the lighting design profession in general and the idea of bringing it outside Europe, closer to those who may not be able to make the bi-annual trip to Europe has many merits. However, this year’s short notice of PLDC in Singapore has had a big impact on many lighting design grass root initiatives around the Asian region. With funds redirected to Singapore, many have found their events wanting for sponsors or like we have experienced, left empty handed after initial promises of support.
I have personally always supported PLDC over the years and when asked to become a steering committee member for the Singapore event had no hesitation to accept. Looking back over the last few months however, I can only see that the sudden decision to go to Singapore this year may have been too hasty, as in the process it has affected much of the hard work done by so many volunteers who organise events around the region…I am confident that the PLDC event in Singapore will be a great success and hopefully will be a springboard to rejuvenate all the efforts put in over the past few years. PLDC owes this to the region…
We are certainly on our way to make it a great an unforgettable event!
Our LDoT platform is gathering more and more steam with further partnership discussions taking place this past week. We had a long conference call with one of our US based partners (specialists in lighting controls) about what is cooking in their kitchen and discussing how their products and features could be integrated in our Menu of Things. In order to become knowledgeable about being a lighting designer of things we need to understand what is available in the market and how that integrates in and affects our lighting design. Our “menu” will be our reference of what is currently available in the market and how it integrates with lighting…still a lot of work to do! In the coming week we have further discussions with IoT partners in Singapore.
Light Talk – Live, lighting conversations with experts in their field.
One of my long-time desires has been to do Light Talk – Live, in which I sit down with experts in the industry, people we work with to achieve our lighting designs and chat about their experience of lighting and how it contributes to improving their expert field. Using my daughter Kyra’s media and video recording skills, we finally sat down this week to record the first episode of Light Talk Live with my first expert guest, Richard Offen. Richard is the former Chief Executive of Heritage Perth, an author with his own weekly radio program on ABC talking about the history and heritage of Perth and Western Australia. Richard was instrumental on getting KLD on board for the lighting of His Majesty’s Theatre and having the opportunity to have this unique one on one chat was a real joy. We recorded our Light Talk against the background of the beautiful, century old interiors of the theatre. The official YouTube edit will be ready in the next few weeks and will be available for viewing through our KLD YouTube channel and the LightTalk blog site soon! Watch out for it…😊
Have a great weekend
My early morning walks always provide me with a rich breath of light and nature…
The award winning His Majesty’s Theatre today
Light Talk in conversation with Richard Offen…some low res screen shots
Perth, Weekend 28-29th July 2018
Back in Perth to catch up with my team. Ingmar and myself are working tirelessly in further developing our LDoT platform and with all the feedback and positive inputs we have received we have set some time aside to work on detailing the various components that will make our approach even more valuable to our clients, specifically with some very interesting pilot projects in the pipeline…
PLDC Singapore update
Not much to update this week, work goes on in the back ground in regards to the organisation, the excursions, the pre-convention program and the gala dinner. We are now getting into the nitty gritty of the event in terms of the layout and design of the space. I think it is going to be very nice…
After the major change of direction for the theme of the fair in which the lighting fair is now endorsed by the City of Shanghai who wants the event to reflect how the lighting of the future will be beneficial to the Governor’s vision for Shanghai to become a smart lighting city, we had to drastically revamp the program and overall approach to our Lighting Design Agora booth. This now practically completed and we are aiming to confirm our speaker and sponsors very soon. I will be presenting a paper over how through our Lighting Design of Things platform we can majorly contribute and facilitate the integration of IoT features in smart city lighting. A networking dinner will be held on the evening of the 3rd September at a yet to be confirmed location. More news soon! PLDC will be represented by both Joachim and Alison who have indicated they will come to Shanghai to attend the event.
This week also saw some typical office team activities. Aishah had her birthday celebration and we had a little farewell party for Jordan who is moving to Europe where he will be heading our new Europe studio. With some new projects in the pipeline there we will need his support. He will remain a full active member of our team in Singapore…with todays modern internet communication, it does not really matter where you are anymore! We wish Jordan all the best in Lisbon!
It’s the economy!
I am back in Australia also to move some new initiatives as the economy here is not easy. The Australian market is a very close nit industry where it is not so much about what you know, but who you know! The engineering companies in Australia still call the shots and there is little room for boutique specialist designers like ourselves.
However this seems to change and with the world of IoT slowly moving in real time, the environment for lighting design is changing as well. We noticed over the past weeks in several projects that engineering companies have little understanding of the role IoT is playing and how it integrates into lighting so there are clear opportunities for us to take up that role. There is an amazing interest in this new world and the fact that we can offer an integrated approach to those IoT features for integration in our lighting design seems to interest many potential clients. There is however lots of ground to cover certainly when it is unchartered territory but being creator of the LDoT platform allows us to develop and choose our path!
Insite Magazine – India
Another magazine picked up our project successes, this time well respected Indian Interior design magazine Insite. In a 6 page spread, including the magazine cover the article covers some of our recent project realisations.
Have a great weekend
Singapore, Weekend 21-22nd July 2018
You never know what to expect in our profession, every week is different, which I guess makes our job interesting and never dull…I am typically not a 9 to 5 person and the variety, the unexpected locations of a new project, the new challenges and the people that you meet in the process, provide an incredible rich canvass of experiences to draw on. Combined with my passion for lighting I am privileged to be doing what I am doing…
Life after the world cup
The week started of course after the month-long world cup soccer tournament that saw its final played Sunday night with my beloved France beating Croatia in thrilling match. The Sunday was made extra heavy on sport with also the men’s Wimbledon final played and, if like me you are also a cycling fan, the Tour de France going on as well. After weeks of late nights and morning after soccer analytics this week was strangely quiet…😊
Ministry of Manpower
This week saw the unexpected visit of government officials checking out our company. They select companies randomly and based on the audited and filed tax reports actually interview some of the staff and check whether indeed the company conforms to the Singapore work statutes and regulations. Basically, they check whether we can back up what we declare. They had announced their visit a few days earlier to make sure we would be there. Based on salary declarations, they checked on our payslips, the staff appointment contracts and actually interviewed selected staff (Aishah was the lucky one 😊) to get her feedback on how we were implementing working conditions. I had a word with them afterwards to make sure everything was OK. While it initially felt intrusive having the government coming in to check your company, on reflection I felt it was a good thing. After hearing stories how companies abuse the system and their staff…it is good feeling knowing the government gives your company the thick of approval…good for me, good for our team.
BIM / Revit
This week saw also a follow up on our attempts to move our team capabilities into the new world of BIM/Revit modelling skills. We had a special team meeting with Revit specialists to tell us the finer features of the software to determine how best to implement that in our lighting design services. There is no real need to have full scale BIM drafters as in our normal course of work we would get the models from architect or other lead consultants in the same way we get the Sketch Up models to execute the implementation of our lighting design. The potential for lighting with the Revit software is really good with in my opinion making our production work far more efficient. There is a Revit LT version which we are going to try out next to the full-scale Revit software to compare and determine what we need…It definitely seems to be the way to go.
Singapore Garden Festival
In a previous blog I mentioned the invitation by NParks Singapore to be the head judge for the best lighting award at the biennial Garden Festival held at the famous Gardens by The Bay. Invited landscape designers and horticulturists from around the world are challenged to design landscape and fantasy gardens and given a no less than $100,000 budget to develop their concept garden. The festival opens this weekend (600,000 people are expected over the coming weeks) and earlier on Thursday and Friday, saw the judging, award ceremony and related press conferences to hype up the public interest. I was supported in my judging team by Bob Sweet, Horticultural Director, BBC Gardeners World Live from UK and Mr Sam Lemheney, Vice-President, Chief of Shows & Events from Philadelphia Flower Show (USA), all bringing in their own much appreciated personal views and experience.
I had developed the judging criteria with NParks focusing on
– first impressions (Wow factor),
– relevance to the concept (how well did the lighting enhance their design)
– innovation and originality
– how well lighting was integrated in the design (aesthetics and visual appearance)
– sustainability (energy efficiency, light pollution)
– safety and functionality (public safety compliance, practicality)
It is always a challenge to judge. Lighting specifically can be very subjective but after my explanation of what I was looking for with my criteria we were pretty unanimous in our scoring and final decisions. The key to me is how well lighting integrates with its environment. The winning fantasy garden display, “Precious Land” from Tom Massey, was simple and very strong, lighting was so complementary that it was not about the lighting but fully on the experience of the scenery…exactly how lighting should be, not an add on but a totally integrated part of the experience…It also had a strong environmental message, perfect! The outdoor gardens were a close match with all three of us on the fence about the eventual winner; nature versus the urban integration of lighting. Inch Lim’s subtle integration of lighting in his “The wild and restless” display had the exact right balance of brightness. Kate Gould‘s urban community concept “Urban Lifestyle” likewise had the exact right balance of brightness. With Singapore’s high urban context and the many communal outdoor spaces that can be find in housing and condominium estates we felt ultimately that the relevance and educational value of good lighting in urban spaces was best expressed by her and therefore awarded her the winners award for the best lighting. Congratulations to all for all their efforts, it was a pleasure and great experience to judge the lighting together with my eminent fellow judges.
Below some mood images of the festival, have a great weekend
The judges and our deliberations:
The Fantasy Gardens:
Singapore, Weekend 14-15th July 2018
All in all, it was a really mixed bag of activities this week…while the team was full on with several projects that are in the midst of deadlines and tenders, I found time to focus on quite a number of different things. There were the regular progress communications in regards to the PLDC Singapore and SILF Shanghai events, but though progress is being made not much specific to report. The usual fee proposals, preparations for presentations and a lot of further promotional work for our LDoT platform…it’s exciting and it’s happening!
Project fees under threat!
Interestingly RFP’s keep coming in, which is a good thing is I guess, but the competition seems to be getting crazy. In one of these RFP’s for a project in Vietnam this week, the PM and operator, which we know well, reported back that we lost the project to a Malaysian company that had quoted 1/4th of our price! Now if that does not raise a lot of red flags I don’t know…!
If compared apple for apple difference can occur but if there is 4x times the difference in fees something has to give in delivery. I know the operator and the demands for this hotel project and I know that my quote was competitive! So, this begs the question… (I know the answer of course…😊). The client is new in the developer’s world and purely awarded on price. Though the PM and operator pushed, it was to no avail.
I share this with you because it is not the first time we lost project on such huge margins recently…what’s going on? These kind of guerrilla quotes undoubtedly will affect the quality of delivery and with that the appreciation and good will that lighting design has painstakingly been building up over the years to be recognised as a professional expert service. Not only are our fees under threat also the appreciation of good quality lighting design!
The hypermarket consultants
We also see a growing trend of full service consultants emerging fast at the detriment of boutique design practices like our lighting design services. Whether architect, interior designer or big engineering practices, more and more these lead consultants go in to projects with a full-service package, the latest one we were confronted with is an interior design practice now also offering architecture, lighting, art, signage F&B and even landscape consultancy. We see the same with architectural practices and even some engineering practices. I call them the hypermarket consultants. A lot of choice, little quality…While I do appreciate that the one stop-shop concept can offer a lot of benefits, from experience I have found that the quality, sharpness and out of the box thinking of the design team is poor because there is a sense of team complacency and a lack of frontline design work experience and accountability.
Generally one-stop shops have one lead manager who will dictate the design direction across all disciplines, in other words the sub disciplines are merely executing the design direction, rather than thinking out of the box and confronting the team when in their opinion the design is not following what the design should be doing in their view. Follow team orders! In my opinion the lead manager is in this way not sufficiently held to account, leading to potentially missed opportunities and often a design that could have been much better, sharper and client friendly. It is my opinion that sub disciplines (like lighting design) that operate under the hypermarket umbrella are stifled in their creativity and can much less to contribute to the value for money then specialist designers…
Pay to play
On the subject of money…This week I received (yet another) notice that I have been shortlisted for some Lighting Design Award. Once you read a bit further it turns out that you can buy the award. You ego is being stroked by touting huge readership (in this case more than 250,000, with multiple page spreads in their magazine. The more you pay (packages run up to USD 3,000!!), the more exposure and the bigger the award I suppose. It has nothing to do with one of your projects actually having been judged by a panel of your peers and win an award. They actually call it Pay to Play…they seem to just randomly sent these emails to lighting design companies hoping that some ego’s are captured…nice to get a big trophy in your cabinet together with a certificate on the wall and a cover article in some dodgy magazine…If you get an award you should really deserve it…these kinds of “awards” are misleading your clients…
The continuous challenge facing lighting designers remain proper dimming of LED installations. Another week went by with testing and checking compatibility between drivers and dimming systems. We have made it imperative in all our specifications that lighting manufacturers fixtures are to be tested for compatibility with the proposed dimming system. It is amazing to see how much “invisible” flickering is actually happening. By using your camera you can actually see the frequency lines that occur with poor dimming…interestingly it is also very educational for the suppliers who generally sugar coat their products but once they actually see the “stroboscopic” effects of their product or driver on film realise what their product actually does…
LDoT – Liquid Labs
This week was also a big and exciting week for our LDoT platform. We have now officially signed with JLL to participate in their Liquid Labs marketing event, which will allow us to showcase our LDoT capabilities in a real life test environment to investors, developers and other big players in the industry. We had our first kick off meeting and are looking forward to get this off the ground!
Seletar Airport Singapore
Finally I had the opportunity to have a sneak preview of the new Seletar Airport Terminal that will open later this year and will serve as a base for private jets and small regional flights. While we initially were intended to work on the lighting design with the interior designer our fees were deemed too high and the architect decided to work with a designer who had offered their services for free…the terminal looks generally good but on a lighting level I think that within the same budget a much better job could have been done…
Have a great weekend…
PLDC KEYNOTE SPEAKER BIO
DIMMING TEST REVIEW
Singapore, Weekend 7-8th July 2018
Time and again I am confronted with the fact that in our line of work we never know what tomorrow will bring. I was scheduled to be traveling this week, but a last-minute change of plans from a client opened up the whole week. If you think however that it meant I had lots of free time to do what I wanted…somehow, out of the woodwork dozens of things pop up and, in the end, it turned out to be quite a busy week…
First things first, with the gala diner venue now confirmed, we have made a start with the design and detailing as we do need to get it all done within a set budget. While we have a lot of ideas, the reality will probably be that we will have to simplify, but rest assured we will create a magical night!
The Shanghai international Lighting Fair is also moving into new direction with a parallel event co-organised between Messe Frankfurt and the Shanghai Governor’s office. The event is called Shanghai City Lighting Summit and will see the city government and lighting experts come together to explore the future of Shanghai’s city lighting. A program is now being worked out. Our Lighting Design Agora at the SILF itself will be reworked to accommodate the (Shanghai) city lighting theme. We have quite some homework ahead but hope to have it all rapped up by the end of the month.
BIM and Revit
One of the returning questions we receive repeatedly from project clients is whether we BIM/Revit software competence. We have had a few times where this was even a requirement when pitching for a project. So far we have managed to get away with our CAD drawings but it is becoming clear that we should ready ourselves for it. Time to start making the switch? I think so…
Renovations and refurbishments
I would think that about 30% of our projects are renovations and refurbishments. This week we received requests to put forward proposals for two totally different projects. One a more than 30-year old hotel, the other a fairly new office building that wants to move into the age of IoT. The two projects could not be further apart in approach.
The first is so old, that I informed the client on forehand that the complete electrical infra-structure would have to be replaced to cater for today’s modern LED technology and dimming requirements. In some renovation projects you can try to re-use where possible the existing lighting points and infra-structure but in this case it was clear, without even having been on site that there is no point in even trying. I felt that it was important to make that statement on submission to manage their expectation (and give myself a clean slate to start the lighting design).
The second, a real estate developers office, wants to reflect the changing trends in building design by converting their headquarters into a smart building. In our discussions with the client I suggested that the way to go is to carry out a full lighting audit and prepare recommendations on how to upgrade the existing lighting and how to integrate IoT features with the aim to achieve cost savings and most of all an improved human experience. This of course fits perfectly within our LDoT approach as the idea is that the smart systems will be integrated into the lighting, the nicely designed lighting and integrated IoT features then providing for the strongly improved human experience. With the data analytics providing constant and real time feedback on the space usage and people movement it is expected that significant cost savings will be achieved in the process. Can’t wait to see how that will work out!
The dollars and cents are always central to our work, whether we want it or not. Sometimes we are called in to assist in projects where the client does not seem to pay through their nose, way beyond of what they were expecting. This week we got a help-call from an overseas client-friend who was presented with such exorbitant costs for the implementation of the lighting that they asked for clarifications. However, contractor and lighting consultant washed their hand in innocence saying that is just how it was. Not satisfied by the response he approached us.
As a professional and responsible designer you would think that if you see such exorbitant costs you raise a red flag. We know from experience what prices should be including the consideration for variables. To just accept a quote like that shows inexperience or blunt disrespect for the client. To value engineer this down to acceptable costs I suggested to review the design area by area, space by space to see if the proposed lighting systems are appropriate for its intended function and simplify where possible (Suppliers have a tendency to overprovide). Then look at the proposed supplier specs to see if they deliver what you want or are way over specified. Finally, of course talk directly with the supplier / manufacturer to understand the pricing. We know from experience that some suppliers take advantage by bluntly quoting double the price (or more). Knowing the manufacturer helps to bring the prices back to reason. From my assessment it was clear that the quoted price was easily more than double what is should be! I advised the client accordingly with the recommendation to hold the consultant to task and to direct him to value engineer it back within a reasonable budget. It is a mystery to me how some people get away with this…
This week also saw a get together of the Singapore chapter of the IALD. Yah li, who has been putting in a lot of effort to develop a platform for the Singapore members of the IALD, organised a meeting followed by a dinner. The meeting was aimed at finding ideas to develop more interest in participation and foster an environment that allows our local members to exchange ideas, experiences and be motivated in applying their lighting design skills. As a professional member it is my pleasure to contribute and certainly attend when I can, but with my busy schedule and commitments active organisation will be difficult. I am confident however that the new generation will come together and deliver this! I will certainly contribute as and when I can. We certainly had an enjoyable evening…keep it up!
Immersive lighting experiences
I would like to leave you with images of two new attractions that are grabbing headlines around the world, the Digital Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan and one right here in Singapore, the Rain Forrest Lumina, a new addition to the world famous Night Safari.
It takes a special mind to develop these creative and interactive experiences. I am a practical architectural lighting designer and even though I consider myself very creative, the creation of this kind of magical and dream like experiences requires a totally different mind. Not so much in terms of the technological knowledge but more in “dreaming up” the content. I have yet to go and visit the one in Singapore and if given the opportunity the one in Tokyo as well, in the meantime here are some pictures…
Enjoy the weekend!
TOKYO DIGITAL ART MUSEUM
RAIN FORREST LUMINA, SINGAPORE
Singapore, Weekend 30-1st July 2018
Back in the office
Finally, a whole week back in the office…while the team is perfectly capable to manage our projects in my absence it was good to catch up on all the projects, attend some meetings and do some paper work. Sounds ordinary, but its good to emerge yourself once in a while to get the feel of everything back in your finger tips as we say…having been away (and switched off) has its advantages, but then once back I just need to “top up” on our daily activities.
While I was away PLDC has progressed nicely to confirm all the keynote speaker slots. We now have Satoshi Teshima, an Asian-German Architect from USA, Young Ho Baik from the government in Seoul, Sven Martin a Visual Effects Designer from Germany who worked on the Game of Thrones (!) and the previously announced Arjan de Boer, a hotelier turned investor and developer. Exciting news is that Sven Martin will also be doing a masterclass on the pre-convention meeting day, something that I think will attract a lot of interested people, considering the enormous popularity of the Game of Thrones series. The Cities Forum on preconvention meeting day program is starting to take shape with PLDC also signing an agreement with Singapore’s Centre for Liveable Cities to support the event. For further details and follow the progress of the event please see the PLDC website: https://2018.pld-c.com
The Shanghai International Lighting Fair in September is also moving into an exciting direction with Messe Frankfurt partnering up with the local Shanghai government to focus the event now solely on Lighting for Cities which of course will include the future outlook on smart city developments. We are now working on an updated program for our Lighting Design Agora which I hope to share with you soon!
On my Lighting Design of Things front also a lot is happening! After successful keynote presentations in Jakarta and Bangkok further international guest appearances are now confirmed in Amsterdam, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur between now and October. Specifically the Amsterdam event is created around my LDoT platform. The event and panel discussion have Lighting Design of Things as the central theme and as the founder of the platform I have been invited to share my vision and thoughts for the future at this event that will be beamed live over the internet and social media…exciting stuff! More to share over the coming weeks also on the other events. It’s keeping me busy!
Punggol Digital District
As a direct result of our LDoT activities we are now engaging with several of our clients in regards to opportunities of integrating IoT and other smart features in our projects, the biggest one undoubtedly being the implementation of the Punggol masterplan that we developed last year. Driven by Singapore’s Smart Nation program lighting will be the facilitator of many smart functions. We just had our kick off meeting this week so more in the coming months. Other projects in Singapore, the Philippines and China are also having a serious look at the IoT possibilities through lighting as a host.
One of the most meaningful meetings this week was a tender review of alternative submissions by shortlisted suppliers that we had in our office for one of our resort renovation projects. With both the M&E consultant as well as well as the client in attendance it was a great opportunity to show our expertise and use the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of quality to them. The budget for this project, as so often, is ultra-tight and regardless how much we would like to stick to our original specs, there is no way that that was going to happen. So, we committed to serious value engineering, preselected two preferred suppliers with experience in both hospitality and supplying to the remote resort islands of the Maldives, The M&E also brought in one of their choices. Key elements that we were able to demonstrate to the client, besides your typical lighting performance criteria such as colour consistency, optical quality, light output efficiency, etc, were issues such as
– suitability for 3bcore or 5 core electrical wiring and its impact on dimming protocols
– driver quality and compatibility with dimmer systems
– quality and method of wire connections (90% of failure is in the installation!)
– completeness of accessories
– system warranty versus light fitting warranty
and the list goes on.
Our main aim was to highlight to both client and M&E of the importance to have all these issues covered with tender award to make the installation work later on as fool proof as possible and have clear responsible parties to avoid finger pointing and blaming each other when things do go wrong. Having experienced suppliers (like the ones we had shortlisted) showed the client their knowledge and understanding of the site issues providing further peace of mind by assuring their presence and super vision on installation and commissioning. We achieved exactly what we wanted, a client now understanding the potential pitfalls of the ultra-cheap fixtures, worried about the potential site problems (and delays ensuing!) and willing to spent some extra money to assure quality, reliability and ease of installation.
A very satisfying and rewarding session.
Enjoy the weekend…
Singapore -France countryside- Holland- German Alps- Singapore
Weekend 23-24th June 2018
Starting back on higher ground
Yes, I have been away for a while…I took a one month “sabbatical retreat” in my countryside France to recharge my batteries. The contrast between rural life and our busy practice puts life in perspective. 😊.
Work restarted for me this week well before I reached back in Singapore with an unexpected trip to the German/ Austrian Alps, just south of Salzburg. One of my existing project clients has a beautiful site there which he wants to convert into an Alpine health village. He wanted me to see the site before returning to Singapore and discuss the detailed scope of work so I can hit the ground running on my return. I am really excited about this project which will allow us to combine our hospitality lighting skills with one of our key application skills in circadian lighting and lighting for health.
There is no doubt that spa and health living retreats as well as medical holidays (and where better then in the high Alps with clean air and incredible vistas with mountains going up close to 3000m high?) are becoming more and more popular and in demand. Not only for the rich and famous but also for the common man. I was there close to the summer solstice day, sunny and green, and can only imagine how the winter wonderland views will be…the area has also a very rich history dating back centuries…looking forward to this exciting project!
Back in Singapore
On arrival early in the morning mid-week I had little rest as a catch-up lunch meeting with some good friends and project clients was scheduled to make use of their passage through Singapore. Our business model is very much based on creating trust and respect with our clients as part of a quality delivery, so maintaining the relationships is an important part of our practice. After a quick nap and shower I was therefore back in action to meet my good friends.
In the afternoon I dropped into the office to catch up with my team which I had not seen for over a month…being away for such time, something I have been doing for the last few years now, also has a positive side for the team. The reality is that when I am around, I get involved either by my own initiative or through participative requests. In short it means that my team takes a “back seat” when I am around letting me lead. Being away “forces” them to take initiative and resolve problems on the spot…being away in the French countryside with limited internet connection has its advantages…I am always pleased to see how they manage so well without me. Ultimately the company needs to be able to run as well without me!
The next day I attended an important value engineering meeting for one of our Maldives project with QS, Project Management, Engineering, ID, Operator and Client present. We had done our homework as had the others and it was a productive meeting with clear directions on how budgets can be achieved. It is interesting as we have a near parallel project running in the Maldives (same operator, different designers and client) where this exercise is moving in a totally different way. The key to VE is to find the best value for money without affecting the approved design concept. This project has a realistic client who seems to be able to appreciate what it takes to deliver a quality project. The initial cost projections where way too low and the current projections are about nearly triple. The client realises more has to be pumped in and in a fair and professional meeting we are jointly looking at bringing the costs down significantly through alternatives, options, simplifications and a staged implementation. The process feels good, respected and appreciated for our expertise without losing focus on the to achieved end result.
In sharp contrast the VE process running in parallel on the other project has a client who is only focussed on one thing…money. It is willing to sacrifice quality and concept to achieve the project cost target, regardless whether their budget was right in the first place. The process is frustrating and demoralising for everyone concerned. There is little respect and appreciation for design efforts, quality…it is very likely that our first project will deliver a great end product that will stand the test of time, whether this second project will feel like a missed opportunity. Our role as lighting designer is the same in both…but how different the outcomes will be…
Finally this week saw the issue of Outlook Magazine Asia, a construction magazine for Asia that features our company as a professional niche lighting design practice. Published out of the UK it profiles our company as one of the leading design practices in the region and acknowledges our innovative and leading role in developing the Lighting Design of Things platform. You can find the link to the magazine and brochure below:
Full magazine (see p94): www.asiaoutlookmag.com/magazine/asia-outlook-issue-33
I leave you with some mood images from the past weeks…to put the contrast between nature and our hectic business life in perspective… 😊
Enjoy the weekend…
the Alps…our project site…
Weekend 12-13th May 2018
Doing the miles…
If any week was busy in terms of travelling it certainly was this week! Leaving last Sunday for Jakarta to attend the Cutting Edge seminar I returned back to Singapore late on Monday, leaving the next morning for my international flight to Male, followed with a domestic flight to Khadedhoo airport and a 30 min boat trip to our project site. Wednesday afternoon it was the reverse back to Singapore, this time an overnight flight arriving at 7am on Thursday. After a quick shower and change of clothes I headed back to the airport for my midday flight to Bangkok for my keynote presentation at the I-Light Connect event at the LED Expo Thailand. As I am writing my blog this Saturday morning, I am in the SQ lounge waiting for my flight back to Singapore…8 flights in 7 days…I certainly did my miles this week, though privileged to do them in comfort. But a satisfying week it was!
The Cutting Edge, Jakarta
This event was organised by Technolite Singapore in collaboration with local supplier Ascendo in a nice of the beaten track venue somewhere in Jakarta. I am not sure where exactly it was, as we were chauffeured around to the venue. Very much focussed on the future of lighting the event brought together some “cutting edge” manufacturers like MaxiLed, EldoLED and LED Linear spiced up with my keynote presentation about the future of lighting design, Lighting Design of Things (LDoT). The event was well attended and on this first day saw developers, property owners, architects and other key players in the industry get updated on the direction lighting and lighting design is moving. The second day (which I did not attend) was more technical and focussed on educating lighting designers and engineers. Well organised and good attendance, well done!
Following my presentation in Jakarta we were invited to meet the site team for the recently opened T3 at Soekarno Hatta Airport, which has very poor and glary lighting! Not sure how that got approved! KLD has been roped in to review, recommend and implement ways to improve the lighting, so we now have an opportunity to also discuss possible integration of IoT functions…Galih has a challenging but exciting task ahead with his Jakarta team! We will gladly support him.
Back in the Maldives for the 3rd time in 4 months, this time for our Raffles Hotel project. A crucial trip which involved all key project members, the owners and the operator for a team review of the mock up villa’s (one beach villa, one sea villa). Getting these right, is crucial for the rest of the project and with top management form both owner and operator present I felt it was important to be there as well. With the tight project schedules decisions (budget! ☹) had to be made on site after the review. Amanda had travelled ahead on Sunday together with the ID to prepare and do the final adjustments prior to our arrival. Even lighting installation details were amended in the short time to improve the experience as per design. Despite having a host of non-complying alternative fixtures with a variety of colour temperatures and different beam angles (courtesy of a Chinese contractor who went ahead without consulting us to buy his own interpretation in China) we managed to show of a reasonable representation of what it will be with all the “correct” lights. With the proper light fixtures in place I am confident it will look great. The challenge now is to assure the client to spent the proper money commensurate with the demands of a 5-star hotel! We certainly have the backing of the operator.
LET 2018 – I-Light Connect workshop
After my short transit in Singapore I arrived in time in Bangkok to participate in the judging panel of the I-Light Connect workshop that saw around 35 participants split in 4 different groups present their lighting installations. The participants to the workshop, a mix of aspiring lighting designers, architects, interior and landscape designers, were give different themes and tools (lighting equipment sponsored by WEEF Thailand) to achieve their design. The day had begun with some theory and design briefings by the workshop leader, renowned Thai lighting designer and university professor, Dr Atcharawan. They then retreated to develop the lighting concept and spent the rest of their time to actually create the lighting installation. The judging panel consisting of the next days seminar key speakers then provided the participants with valuable feedback and expert advice. It is always nice to see how designers with different backgrounds bind together to create and achieve an installation and then present their narrative to explain how they came to do what they did. The installations remained in place along the main hall and provided a great background and relaxation place for visitors to the Expo. Well done to the workshop team and participants!
LET 2018 – I-Light Connect seminar
The next day saw an international program of speakers on different subjects sharing their knowledge and expertise with the seminar participants. I kicked off the proceedings in the morning with my LDoT key note presentation, pretty much identical to my presentation in Jakarta earlier in the week. Lutron (one of our sponsors), gave a little insight on what is cooking in their kitchen of the future followed by CLDA president Lear Hsieh and renowned Chinese lighting designer Carry Yue with a focus on the quality of light and lighting. Moderated by James Wallace, a lively panel discussion with the all the morning speakers, concluded the morning session.
The afternoon session revolved around smart lighting for cities and how to make lighting festivals work, with subsequent presentations from Johan Morritz (chief lighting designer for the city of Malmo, Sweden), Kjell Hult (the former head of Lights in Alingsas, Sweden), James Wallace, (lighting designer and master planner from Perth, Australia) and Dr Atcha with her study on the old Bangkok Town city master plan. James also moderated the sessions and panel discussions. While heavy rain and traffic jam discouraged many to make the trip all the way to the IMPACT expo venue outside Bangkok, we had good response and interaction with the attendees, but there is room for improvement next year!
PLDC Warm up event
The event in Bangkok was also billed as a warm up event to the PLDC Singapore and as the representing committee member I made a pitch for the attendees to join PLDC later in Singapore. the preliminary program was issued to the attendees as a teaser. Attendees to the event who register online will get an additional partner event discount. A reminder to all, the early bird discount registration ends 25th May!
PS: As I am going on leave from next week my blog will be on leave for a little while too…as a compensation, a lot of pictures today😊
Enjoy the coming weekends, see you when I am back!
Jakarta T3 Airport’s horrible lighting…so much room for improvement!
Time for mock up villa reviews, beach and water villa…
the welcome, opening ceremony moderated by Dr Atcha
I-Light Connect event
My key note…
The first panel discussion
Afternoon session about lighting for cities