Singapore – Shanghai/Xitang – Singapore
Weekend 7-8 June 2019
The last two weeks have been pretty full on; project deadlines, coordination meetings, sample reviews, conference calls, fee proposals, interviews…and a bit of travel. We are fortunate to have been appointed to some exciting new projects, which just kick started. Project cycles are always unpredictable and balancing new projects with ongoing work, making sure the team has ongoing work without over working, can be quite challenging. We have been interviewing new staff to make sure we can cope with our current work requirements. As I write this blog I am on my way back from Shanghai after an intensive but very satisfying 3 days on our project site in Xitang, about an hours’ drive out of Shanghai.
Going to site facing the hard realities of your own design are the most rewarding and revealing times of a project. I always tell my clients that my design is as good as its final implementation and being allowed to be part of that implementation gives the lighting designer the opportunity to cross the T’s and dot the I’s, making sure the very best can be achieved. The famous 80-20 rule applies here as well…80% of the project’s success lays in the last 20% of the implementation. Having a client that appreciates that and gives you the opportunity (like our Xitang client) to have a near free hand in completing the project is very gratifying as a designer.
Design and reality
Every designer should have the opportunity to see his or her design come to fruition to be physically involved to the very end. It is a very educational process and even after nearly 40 years I am amazed how much I learn each time I am on site. The issues you encounter on site help you to better design and anticipate for your next design. Our site visit to Xitang takes place about 1-2 months before the expected opening, a critical time when you still have the opportunity to change or correct things. With an understanding and willing client this is a great opportunity. Through an active Wechat group and constant communication with the project team, we have been kept up to date since our last visit in April, so we pretty much knew what to expect on site and we set on to work our way through the issues from the moment we set foot on site.
A project of this size, stretched over a large area, with many buildings and several floors are a recipe for a lot of physical endurance. Over the past few days I have done more than 20,000 steps/ day, climbed up and down countless stairs and step ladders, got down and dirty from early in the morning till late at night, 15 hours a day, with short meal breaks for lunch and dinner. These are the site marathons, where you try to achieve all you can during your trip. Good advance planning is crucial and we had the complete site team continuously at our disposal as were the programmers, electricians and lighting supplier. They followed us wherever we needed to go. When Grace and I split up to work in parallel the “support team” split up accordingly as well. We even had people carrying our bags for us! Water was brought when we were thirsty.
Site team follow up
We have a great team (the same site team that worked with us on the Yangshuo project) that know us and our way of thinking which helps a lot. They anticipate and understand quickly what you want. Instructions to change or correct lighting issues were executed immediately and on numerous occasions we found the lighting to already be rectified or installed when previously missing, at our next inspection. I cant emphasise enough how critical to the success of a project a supportive and understanding site contractor is! This team shows they are also eager to successfully complete this project and respect us as the expert consultant, never really questioning our judgement other then suggesting possible improvements! We happily understandably put in all the extra hours during our visit!
What did we do?
For those not often going to project sites ( or even for those who do) I am happy to share the typical routines we go through. On arrival we generally first tour the whole site to take stock of the progress and understand what is and what not. It provides us with the base to prioritise our work for the next days. It shows us what is completed, missing or yet to be installed, etc. Then we set out to work our way through area by area, floor by floor.
The most common issue are poorly installed cove lights. No matter how well you document the installation details we always find that we need to adjust these on site mainly because the actual mill work/ installation detail is different then the original drawings and contractors then use their own interpretation to install. We practically had to instruct each and every linear cove light to be re-installed, which the contractor did without a protest and in record time!
Lights missing, wrongly installed or in a “wrong” position are another favourite on the menu 😊. Things change on site due to constraints, unexpected obstructions, last minute change of designs or layouts, etc. Only when you are onsite and can directly discuss with the rest of the team (interior designer, architect, landscaper, electrical engineer, who were all following us!) quick action can be taken to correct of modify. A project is always a moving object…
Last but not least the lighting controls…ooohhh the lighting controls, (sigh 😊). For some reason the programmers always seem totally, inadequately equipped to deal with the requirements of programming the controls. Finding the correct circuit and then being able to dim it seems like a mountain to climb for them at time!
In this project we have the unique integration of a light show. The buildings that surround and face the central courtyard have been designed with an additional layer of coloured RGB dynamic light that will be part of an integrated light show, probably every 30 mins every evening. Our challenge is to integrate these six designated areas both as part of our architectural lighting scheme as well as the light show. DMX controlled RGB lighting mixed with our regular architectural dimmable lighting controls. I don’t need to explain the extra level of complexity (and frustration) that comes along. However, the initial results look magical (see pictures below). It will be a show stopper!
Everyone has an opinion
Having a big team following you also opens up a lot of discussions…its amazing how many people have an opinion when it comes to lighting. Most of all if their “opinion is based on unfinished work! Very little people have the ability to visualise the end result and having to explain that some lights have not yet been installed, not yet been aimed or not yet been programmed can be a frustrating affair!
Part of our work also requires us to walk our site progress through with the “boss”. It is a necessary part of our presence and serves to satisfy their peace of mind that it will all be ok! Explaining yet be done works to the boss is part and parcel of our responsibility, at the end of the day they are investing a lot of money and are anxious to see that it all comes successfully together. Having to clarify the same to every Tom Dick and Harry who hobs around with you is a bit more frustrating, but we take that in our stride, certainly as we are very confident, we have another winner on our hands!
Enjoy your time ahead!
Notice: To all my readers, I will be away for a couple of weeks and will resume my blog by the end of July.
Also, our blog has migrated to a new provider. If you are not able to connect with our blog please follow this link: lighttalk.kldesign.co. For any questions please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Singapore – Hong Kong/Zuhai – Bangkok – Singapore
Weekend 25-26 May 2019
It’s one of the busy times of the year. Traditionally we see the periods from April to June and September to November to be seasonal peaks in the amount of work and travelling needed and this year does not seem to be any different. The past two weeks I had our China Cup yacht project and our Bangkok hotel and office projects on my travel list. Both crucial site and progress coordination meetings. I have never understood how some design consultancies can only provide concepts and not be involved in the end game of a project. Your design is as good as the final implementation so if you are not involved in the installation and completion of a project, how can you learn to make your designs better! Every time we have a meeting, every time we coordinate our design and every time we are on a project site to coordinate with the contractor team we learn and can support the installation team with our expertise and guidance. You can never deliver a good concept from behind your desk! You need to understand what is going on in the project team and most of all how the local contractor goes about doing his work. Your design documentation only provides about 80% information, sometimes open to different interpretation you even don’t realise! Only we as the designers know what we wish to achieve as the end result…crucial!
Going to the ship yard, about 1 hours drive from Zhuhai can be arduous. We have done it once flying in through Shenzhen followed by a 4 hour drive south, but flying in through Hong Kong and then taking the ferry directly from the airport to Zhuhai seems to be the most efficient way with more flight options in and out of Hong Kong as well. There is now a new (apparently expensive) option which is to use the new 55 km long Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. Maybe next trip…
Our China Cup yacht is making good progress…it was moved from the yard into the water and first sea trials are expected soon. We came to inspect the work progress and make sure everything was being installed as per our design specifications. Specifically, locations of down lights and integrated cove light installations had to be checked. Obstructions in the ceiling (M&E stuff) can mean that down lights are being moved from their original location, but not always in the right direction. Linear cove lights (with a shoddy contractor) have a way of looking shoddy with irregular lighting throws, simply because they are not neatly aligned or installed in-line. Luckily we seem to have a good contractor and that showed with most cove lights looking good.
One of the key issues in a moving object, whether it is a yacht, a train, a plane or a bus is that they are subject to vibrations. Hence installation and fixations are crucial. You don’t just put a driver lose in the ceiling they need to be properly tied up so they don’t start having a life on their own once the yacht start sailing…lighting design in confined spaces like yachts and planes are extra challenging, not only because the quality requirements in consideration of the marine climate conditions, but also because the very limited recess space generally available. We are grateful to have been working with one of the foremost expert marine lighting manufacturers who really delivered! It pays to work with experts! We can’t wait to see this project completed, another award winner in the making!
Dealing with a client in China
There is one thing that many European or Western companies do not understand when dealing with clients in China and that is how to negotiate within the boundaries of their culture. Loss of face is a critical aspect in any relationship and one of our specified manufacturers experienced this first hand. We saw the result on site when we visited. The linear lights for our coves had to be supplied as one complete package and lumpsum price including custom lengths, drivers, etc. It turned out that when everything was delivered some custom length were missing as well as some drivers. The client insisted the balance be delivered without any additional costs. The manufacturer refused claiming their quote had not included all these extra items. The client frustrated and upset with the supplier’s attitude, lost patience and proceeded to rip out all the linear lights and replace them with that of another reputable and more willing supplier! We found the stacks of thrown away linear lights on site. Lesson learned…it was never about the money but about the principle and not loosing face…the manufacturer in question did not understand and now will not be able to list this project as a reference as ALL their lights were taken out! They also lost our confidence…a big price to pay for just a few thousand dollars…!
Our Bangkok client is unique to us in the sense that we are combining the integration of smart infra-structures (our LDoT platform) with our lighting design. The mixed development of two towers has a hotel a corporate office and residential apartments. The guestrooms are being equipped with smart sensors to control the lighting and air-conditioning, two of the biggest contributing energy saving opportunities in a hotel room. Both the client and ourselves are on a learning curve in converting traditional installation approaches towards new wireless opportunities. We are building it up step by step and for now are holding back on the public areas though with an eye on future smart upgrades. The offices are another thing all together, we are putting in a smart infra-structure but data analytics capabilities that will allow us to learn with the client what we can “analyse” and “measure” through our sensors and how we can use the real time and historic data collection to improve the office space…it is an exciting and promising journey we are embarking on.
LDoT – Huawei
One of the key things that is changing our world is that we are moving from hardware specifications to software capabilities as the prime decision maker in any purchase. The recent Huawei ban issued by the US shows us exactly what the impact is. In a recent news article in Singapore it was highlighted that the sales of new and second hand Huawei mobile phone sets has dramatically plunged, nearly 90%! The main reason cited by all potential buyers was the availability of the apps. Huawei runs of the Android platform and without it the device is not much worth…It is not difficult to see that that data platforms that will be able to run on our lighting infrastructure will be a key decision factor in the design, specification and installation of future lighting systems…It just reinforces our belief that our LDoT approach will be the way of the future!
Enjoy your time ahead!
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Nice to see our drawings actually being used!
Sad to see that the linear lights being thrown away…
Singapore – Hanoi – Singapore
Weekend 11-12 May 2019
One thing I seem to manage better is the extent of my travelling. In the past two weeks I had nearly daily conference calls but only one trip, to Hanoi in Vietnam for a kick off meeting with a new client. Not that we are not travelling, it’s just that I personally am travelling with less intensity and more selectively. Considering that I have just reached another milestone age (65!), probably good for my health and stress levels! Managing time and health is becoming of prime importance without letting down our clients. My team has been travelling extensively the last few weeks and the fact the client is happy to deal with them is testimony to their ability to service our clients professionally!
In the age of high-speed connectivity it makes sense to communicate, meet or have progress meetings through conference calls. Over the last 2 weeks I have literally had at least one such CC a day, with even a few days with a two or three. While nothing can replace face to face meetings, conducting international or even intercontinental conference calls makes life so much easier! Most of all it frees up so much time that would otherwise be lost in travelling and even though I nowadays travel comfortably, I never really work well or efficiently in a plane. Most of my CC’s these past weeks have been with our LDoT partners and the ease with which you can share documents and have discussions while seeing each other is a real game changer compared to my early days in my practice.
One of the main take-aways for me these past weeks has been the way our traditional lighting design market is being disrupted. If not for my LDoT start-up activities I would probably never have realised this. But we are literally moving towards the “Kodak moment” for the lighting industry. As lighting designers, we are focussed on our developer-clients, our architect, our other design consultant relationships and our lighting manufacturers and suppliers. How that is changing! Yes, my regular core project activities with KLD very much relies on my existing relationships and our standing in the lighting design industry. Still about 80% of our projects come through these referrals and relationships. However, this is about to be disrupted in a big way by players that previously had nothing to do with lighting, namely the big tech companies. Without giving away our market intelligence and new built big tech relationships, I can share that our lighting design services are already being disrupted and gradually going to be eroded more by these new players!
LDoT services for you
For those of you keen to learn more about the integration of IoT in lighting or in need for support in the integration of IoT into lighting design, we have now opened up our LDoT services to fellow lighting designers. You are welcome to contact me or Ingmar directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Guangzhou Light Fair: 9 -11 June
My program for the Guangzhou lighting fair is also firming up. After some further discussions with Messe Frankfurt HK, I will be moderating a panel discussion with a number of experts about the integration of IoT in smart city landscapes. We are still discussing some further fine tuning of the program, but below you can find a the preliminary program of the speaker and panel discussion events.
Finally, after nearly 10 years, I was back in Hanoi for the kick off meeting with a new client. I have been many times to Vietnam over the last couple of years but somehow our projects have focussed around the HCMC area and the coastal resorts. Last time I was there was for the Intercontinental Landmark hotel project (with my previous company). It was good to be back and certainly our client seems to be a pleasure to work with. The lead designer is one my long-time friends with whom I have had the pleasure of doing projects throughout the region. I generally take personal pride in kicking of new projects with our clients, not only to make sure we lay the foundation for a long term relationship but also to make sure we create the proper environment to deliver our services to the desired quality and timelines. Getting the base foundation right at the start is critical for the long-term success of any of our projects. We explain our design process, our deliverables and by that we can manage their expectations right from the start. We establish the communication lines for smooth coordination and follow up…
Hanoi, compared to HCMC seems still to be a sleepy town, there is not the same buzz of noise and traffic jams. Our journeys to an from the airport, the site and hotel was smooth and with a client that values quality himself that was reflected in the way he took care of hosting us, his hospitality, the hotel accommodation and transportation. The exquisite Vietnamese food, and when it came to drinking wine, nothing less than St Emillion Grand Cru!
Even though Vietnam is still considered to be a developing economy, there are clear signs that appreciation of good quality is gaining a lot of traction. If your client asks if brands like FLOS or IGuzzini are ok, I can only look forward to a hopefully appreciative client when we get into specifying our lights!
Enjoy your time ahead!
Housekeeping notice: In the coming weeks (before the end of this month) we will be migrating our blog to another carrier. In principle there should be no interruption or disruption but just in case there is it should be only for a short time. Should you have any issues in accessing the blog please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Perth – Singapore
Weekend 27-28 April 2019
After nearly a month in Australia I am back in Singapore. It was an emotional time as I was in Perth for the wedding of Ingmar. I guess as a Dad it is always an emotional moment and it was no different for me. Proud and happy he found the love of his life. Business was obviously affected as we had a big contingent of my Dutch family over in Australia, most of them for the first time and having made such a long trip they all made the best of it visiting taking time out to visit what makes Perth and WA so beautiful. As I write my blog, my brother is still four-wheel driving somewhere in the Outback 😊
The Jewel – Changi
Not be missed on arrival back in Perth was its latest attraction at Changi Airport called the Jewel. Many years it the making it opened officially its doors to the public a week ago and we could not pass up the opportunity to have a quick peak. The vortex rain forest and 40m high waterfall are truly a spectacle for the eye, which I am sure many visitors will enjoy, well done!
While we are very busy with our projects trying to keep up with the tight deadlines, the economy somehow does not seem to match up with payments very slow or delayed beyond reasonable. One of our clients keeps pushing for deliverables and additional work but does not back it up with prompt payments and additional fees. They did ask us to submit our fees for additional work and when we did promptly asked us to resubmit to justify it with a breakdown of the hours. When the hourly rates total came out higher then our proposed lumpsum fees they fumed! They sought we could do it in half the time! But we argued that since they wanted the actual hours we gave it to them. Now they are stuck with our hours 😊 The last payment took nearly a year to collect from them! So now obviously we are holding back on any work or issuance to keep some leverage otherwise we may not even see a payment at the end of the day. The irony is that this client is actually very rich and in a business sector where a bad economy should not really affect them at all.
In general though the RFP’s keep coming in, several a week at the moment, some quite big. But some of the projects that we have been appointed for seem to be holding back with the kick off…not sure if that reflects the current state of the economy in the region…
In pursuit of our LDoT services we are moving more and more into providing smart solutions in our projects. In Perth we are moving to provide one of the first smart residential solutions, sensor ready, Bluetooth ready, voice control ready, wireless control ready. It’s a big step forward and a total change of attitude towards installation practices by the contractor. We are taking both architect and electrical contractor by the hand to educate and guide them about our new connected, wireless world…we are lucky to have lighting suppliers on board that are understanding of what we are trying to achieve, so important!
Our other smart projects in Thailand and Singapore are gathering steam and also offer us the opportunities to explore the collaborations with our LDoT partners and their capabilities. It is a long and tedious road but one we have to take to make sure we can offer our clients the best the smart market currently has to offer!
One of our projects in Malaysia, suddenly came back alive after having been dormant for nearly 2 years…sometimes you wonder…we had been paid up to services provided, but it is always a bit of a disappointment if the project goes in a holding pattern after you put in so much effort in the design. This project grinded to a hold after tender… assumingly for money reasons. Now we have been asked to restart the tender process, but obviously the lighting fixtures that we specified nearly 3 years ago will need to be revisited as well as the suppliers they came from (is the agent still the same? Etc.) The client acknowledges that our fees will need to be reassessed and re-proposed for the additional work…I guess that sounds re-assuring. Another project in the Maldives is in a similar situation and is expected to restart as well following some re-start meetings held recently. The main thing is that in this fast-evolving age of technology anything specified longer than 1-2 years ago probably need a total review! We don’t mind the additional work 😊
While we all dream of having a team for the long run, staff movements are inevitable. This week we saw Cindy leave our team to return to her native Korea to be with her family. We are sad to see her go but understand her wish to return. As we are a close-knit family it is a bit like one of your children grow up and leave the house…we wish her all the best and thank her for the valuable contributions she has given the team and the unwavering efforts in representing the company to our clients. At the same time, we welcome Mazlina as a new member of the team!
Jordan, who moved to Lisbon, remains a full member of our team and is currently in the process in setting up our European desk. We look forward to further developing our business in Europe. The initial feedback is very promising!
Dutch King Day
Finally the Netherlands celebrated the birthday of King Willem Alexander this week with events and official embassy receptions organised across the world. I attended the one in Singapore held at the Hollandse Club, besides some useful networking mainly to enjoy Dutch “delicacies” like “bitter ballen”, “poffertjes”, “Dutch cheese”, “haring” and our very own Heineken 😊
Enjoy the time ahead!
Singapore – Melbourne – Perth
Weekend 6-7 April 2019
Once you let go of discipline, its easy to lose track of what your goals are…Settling down to write my blog I realise that my last blog was 3 weeks ago, not my intended 2 weeks! It just shows that my mind is gradually moving away from blogging. Changes in the media environment I have been active in such as Lighting Magazine, the Via-Verlag PLD’s website and other media interests, have now given me clear direction on what I will be focussing on over the next year. So here is the deal…
Light Talk Blog
I intend to continue blogging till PLDC 2019 in Rotterdam, but as you have already noticed, the frequency maybe unreliable. The target is twice a month…I may miss a beat or two but I will endeavour to maintain that target. By the end of the year I hope others in my team will take over the blog as it is a really good tool to reflect on what was and what happened. You take a step back and take a helicopter view on what the events were and your or other peoples involvements in that. As always it is not about personal finger pointing or victory claiming, it is about the generic experience, the successes, the challenges and the failures, all from which we can learn to improve ourselves.
Light Talk Video
My next project is already well underway as reported in previous blogs. The Light Talk live chats have and are being edited for publication and if all goes well they will be online very soon (it always takes longer then you think with day to day priorities taking precedence…).
Light Talk Books
Light Talk 2, is also well under way and should see the day light in Q3 this year with the intention to have copies available at PLDC 2019 in Rotterdam. I am further working on Light Talk 3 (provisional working title) a book or subscription series that will be more educational in nature…still exploring the format that this will be made available in as with todays social media, there is strong shift towards Podcasts or YouTube materials…
My week in Singapore saw the usual busy meetings, specifically as we are getting more and more projects in Singapore. We have always been fairly content having minimal project exposure in Singapore as local projects generally put a heavy strain on our man power because of the “over the top” demand for presence in regular coordination meetings. After the success of some of our local projects (e.g. Atlas Bar etc.) our local projects have no tripled and with it demand to attend coordination meetings and workshops. One of those was with Tony Chi for the renovation of the Ritz Carlton, a very detailed and very intense two-day workshop and coordination meeting. Further meetings for Atlas 2 and another high-end restaurant kept me fairly busy. And these are just those projects I am personally involved with, the team luckily flying the flag in other projects.
LDoT partner portal
LDoT meetings also keep producing a steady flow of activities, from face to face meetings with key real estate developers, project managers and IT facilities managers in Singapore to ongoing conference calls with some of our existing partners and explorative chats with potential new partners, resulting in a few more NDA’s signed. We intend to create a portal platform for our partners on our LDoT website soon.
Strangely enough in all those years I had never had the opportunity to visit Melbourne, so the inaugural Light Space Design Lighting Design Forum I attended as invited speaker on the 27th March provided me with the opportunity to visit this iconic city. Staying in a cosy little boutique hotel on Flinders Street I was uniquely located to explore the city in the evening hours. Federation Square, Flinders Train Station and Flinders Lane all with easy walking distance (see some mood pictures below).
Basing myself on the feedback received the event itself was by all accounts highly successful. High class speakers, great subjects and a very well contained and moderated program resulted in a full house from start to finish. It is rare to see attendees (certainly for those living and with offices in the city) stay from morning 9am till the closing networking event at 7pm. It just shows the strength and attraction of the program, I was duly impressed…Specifically the format where speakers were given a TED style directive to keep the presentations short and sweet between 15to 30 mins max. excellent moderating kept the program on the dot and highly attractive for all participants. Specifically the speed talks at the end where sponsors and requesting participants were given the floor for a max 3 min presentation was highly interesting. The event concluded with a networking session with drinks and canapes allowing everyone to find down and chat with whom ever you still wanted to catch up with or still had questions to clarify…great inaugural event.
I took the opportunity the next day to catch up with some that I had met during the event before flying off to
We also received some further awards, this time from Lux Magazine, who awarded KLD Architectural Lighting Designer of the Year Award 2019 for Asia Pacific. Not sure about the value of the award and how they came to award the title as nowadays issuing awards has become a commercial activity…
Enjoy your time ahead…
Singapore – Bangkok – Udaipur – Singapore
Weekend 16-17 March 2019
A busy 2 weeks with project travel to Thailand and India. This is the busy season that generally gathers steam after Chinese New Year and this year is not different. Ongoing projects getting back into action and new projects kicking off. Besides myself other are also travelling to attend to project meetings, review mock ups or simply attend site coordination meetings. The common theme for most of our projects seem to be the dollars and cents…budget, budget and budget! Quality is still at the top of the list however we are challenged to the max to reduce costs and come up with value-engineered solutions that allows to achieve more with less!
My trip to Thailand was typically one of those…meeting with the team for our Maldives resort at the operator’s Bangkok office with the sole purpose to try and match the clients (seemingly insufficient) budget with trying to achieve the operators brand standards. The interior designers original design looked stunning and was already a clever cost-efficient concept, so coming up with an even further reduced cost solution in the two-day workshop was challenging to say the least. But when you have all the decision makers in one room it is amazing what one can achieve.
It is of course give and take and at the end we achieved an in principle compromise solution that about bridged the requirements of the operator, the design concept of the specialists consultants and the owners. We are still expecting a few tweaks after final feedback from all, but we left with the confident feeling that we had a workable outcome to move the project further to achieve our end of the year target opening. I am certainly confident that we will manage to deliver our lighting concept without compromising on quality…
In between the trips we had a big VE meeting for one of our Singapore projects, a new to open 5-star roof top restaurant/bar in Marina Bay. The interior design concept is absolutely stunning and the venue will be on the must go places once it opens later this year, just like our Atlas Bar. However stunning the design, there still needs to be financial sense in any design. Considering that bars and restaurants have a “shelf life” of only 5 to 8 years, any investment must have some realistic ROI for its owners.
So, when the main decorative (illuminated) feature of the venue initially came out to more than 1 Million dollars (and the whole project a multiple of that), it was clear that something needed to be done to make sure we would end up with a solution that made financial sense…with the clock ticking on the time line to deliver the project, frantic meetings were held throughout the last 2 weeks to find a solution, again putting the brains of the top consultants decision makers together.
As I write this blog we believe we have found a solution that will keep the original design intent intact while bringing down the costs to within a budget acceptable to the client. We are doing some a final visual mock ups early this week to confirm, but here also I am confident we will get there…
The trip to Udaipur sounds as exotic as it was in reality. After nearly two years of design work we finally went to site for a full-blown site coordination meeting and mock up site review. The trip to the site is a journey by itself. After a transit through Delhi and a 1hr+ flight to Udaipur it takes a car ride through the mountainous country side to finally arrive at one of the many reservoir lakes Udaipur is known for. The boat ride to the island where our “palace” resort is situated adds to the magic future guests will experience on arrival.
When completed the (only 150 or so suites) Raffles Hotel Udaipur will look like a palace that has been there for centuries even though it was just build…I have always had great admiration for architects and designers who can create building concepts out of nothing, just by the force of their imagination! This is one of those…
We reviewed the mock up suites, the general building and landscape progress and even though the budget seems to be matching the aspirations of both owners and designers, we are still all very much aware that the sky is not the limit and everyone is very much on his very best to make sure we think moneywise but not pound foolish…the client is very much aware that making sure the consultant team’s and operator’s key persons are together assures we can make cost efficient and design wise decisions…We are aiming for a soft opening end of this year…I can’t wait!
I guess no blog without some update about our LDoT activities… Earlier in the week we had a major meeting with one of our pilot project clients for which we had brought in Gooee, our LDoT partner in this project. Key part of this project is to create a system integration team in Singapore that can make sure we have the support and knowledge team in place to service the installation, integration and content management. We allocated a training workshop day to initiate the Singapore team to the workings and programming of the Gooee platform and ecosystem. Still much to learn, integrating data platforms and lighting!
Light Talk is also a busy platform and activity for me. Last week I met with the publisher of Lighting Today magazine to discuss my upcoming book, (working title: Light Talk 2) a compilation of my more than 15 years of writing my Light Talk columns (since 2003!). We are currently working on the artwork and the aim is to have it going for print by middle of this year… As it happens it also becomes an appropriate project as the magazine is going fully digital by next year. The book will also be a great memento looking back on the more than 15 years the magazine has been in print…
Also for my Light Talk video’s, I took the opportunity of having both Jan Kemeling and Mark Talent (Gooee’s COO and CTO) in Singapore to record an another edition of my Light Talk conversations. Once edited it will be featured on our Youtube channel and from next year onwards we will also provide access through Lighting Today’s digital edition of the magazine on their website. Look out for it!
Enjoy the week ahead!
LDoT – Light Talk
Perth – Singapore, Weekend 2-3 March 2019
This fourth blog edition of the year is becoming more undisciplined…Doing it weekly is still sort of a discipline, doing it every two weeks like I am attempting to do, seems much more of a challenge. Ok…I have an excuse…it was Alex 50th birthday last weekend and we decided to escape busy Singapore to celebrate with a short weekend away in a luxury resort…while it will be listed as referencing last weekend it is actually written in the days after…😊
After my week in our Perth office with Ingmar the development of our LDoT process continued with more conference calls and meetings to further detail our collaborations with some new partners. Our pilot projects are requiring quite some attention. We are learning a lot about what system and IoT components producers are claiming they can do and what it turns out to be in reality! This is probably one of the biggest challenges we are facing (and we can just imagine what potential clients are facing), making sense of what sales people are promoting they can do and what the reality is.
At this point in time developers, property owners and facilities managers that are trying to get some head start with smart installations are left to believe what suppliers and manufacturers tell them (generally only the positive things), which of course is biased, limited and with sole intent to sell. They end up with individual systems most of the time over or under specified, that generally do not “talk” to each other. LDoT offers our clients, as one of the very first consultancies in the world, an unbiased, independent and professional advise and selection platform. Through our Menu of Things™ which we are developing in finer details as we progress with our projects and grow our partner collaborations, we are able to determine and provide our clients with more objective choices, considerate options that result in a value for money, dedicated project data design brief. As we are going through our proof of concept it is important to listen to the feedback and learn from the challenges we face along the way…for now we are enjoying the ride…
Ceilings are becoming the new battle grounds. There always was a “fight” for the best locations in the ceiling with lighting, air-conditioning, sprinklers, speakers, smoke detectors, WiFi boosters and access panels crowding and clashing with each other in the ceiling (coordinated ceiling plans…!). Now the smart sensors and cameras are adding a whole new dimension to this “fight”. By just looking up when you walk in a shopping mall or enter a corporate building for instance, you will discover just how many are already in the ceiling! The question is of course who takes precedence over what and who controls the process of integration…?
Ingmar, on his way to Bangkok for some business development and attending a lighting manufacturers workshop, spend some time in our Singapore office during which we had discussions with a potential new partner for LDoT and chatted further with a partner about the potential use of blockchain technology in smart lighting. We are slowly getting our heads around it but it will take a while before this will be applicable in projects or system management processes…we will keep you posted!
IALD 50 years
This year IALD celebrates its 50th anniversary and IALD’s president, Mr David Ghatan, made a stop in Singapore en route to the Enlighten Asia event in Tokio, Japan. Invited by Toh Yah Li, who is IALD SEA local representative, David was welcomed to a dinner and drinks on arrival before heading the main IALD event the next day. About 70 from the lighting industry, designers, suppliers and manufacturers joined for the event at Habitat by Honestbee, Singapore’s version of Amazon Go, a brick and mortar shop that only allows you to enter and pay through an app on your mobile device. In a “market” environment you can buy food and products or simply order food (and drinks) for immediate consumption from the many food stations.
Before we indulged in the Habitat experienced David recalled a bit of the 50-year old history of IALD, its current organisation structure and provided a look into the future. There are only a handful IALD members in Singapore/ Asia so there is certainly scope for more to join! A strong organisation is good for the profession.
I took the opportunity to interview David for my Light Talk conversations chatting about his views on lighting, our profession, the evolving technologies, the cultural differences and education in general. Once the interview has been edited it will be made available on my new Light Talk Youtube channel soon to be launched…
Thanks to sponsors Endo and Helvar for supporting the night!
Enjoy the time ahead…
Singapore – Dhaka – Singapore – Perth,
Weekend 16-17 February 2019
It is a strange feeling not to write my blog on a weekly basis anymore…but it is strangely relaxing. I have a partially guilty feeling of letting down those who have been so passionately following me over the last couple of years, some even since the beginning at PLDC 2009! This year’s PLDC 2019, ten years later, may perhaps be a good moment in time to move from the written blog to the live Light Talk video interviews I have been preparing over the last few months. Trailers of the first three will be released very soon!
It starts to make sense to me in many ways. As the world is so entrenched in social media, everything is visual, and the world is fast moving from hardware to software, moving my Light Talk platform from being a written posting to an actual live video talking about subjects close to our lighting designer hearts with experts in their fields will be a new exciting chapter befitting our modern-day smart world…
This country has always been associated with great poverty so it was quite an interesting coincidence that more than 20 years after I first visited the country, I was invited to Dhaka again to discuss new project opportunities by a client who had visited our offices in Singapore a few months ago. Coincidence in the sense that with our high-tech smart activities we are currently engaged in, Bangladesh would probably be one of the last places you would think of. The last time I was in Dhaka, the poverty was there for all to see, there was hardly any building development of significance, very few cars and international hotels could be counted on one hand. How things have changed…
The city looks like one big working site with buildings popping out of the ground wherever you look, cars now creating typical big city traffic jams and except the occasional knock on your car window little obvious poverty, Dhaka’s Gulshan area has modern buildings and shops and the projects that I am currently discussing with my client will have apartments that will sell for over USD 1 Million each!
Bangladesh is a very populated country with more than 160 Million people which predominantly is known for its garment and tea industry. It is also a country that sees the convergence in the sea delta of three of the biggest rivers in the world (the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna). Not surprisingly the low lying river delta frequently overflows at times resulting in one third of the country being under water! For music lovers Bangladesh is also remembered for George Harrison & Friends famous concert for Bangladesh in 1971 that resulted in an epic live triple album.
So, what did I take away from Bangladesh? First of all, that things are not as they look or you thought they were. Yes, it is still a developing nation, but it is fast catching up. I found the internet, social media, skype and WhatsApp working perfectly, better than I have even encountered in other Asian countries. There is a hunger and appetite for all things new. Their biggest problem though is where to get it from and how to service and maintain the new “things” that you procure.
In discussing the lighting design approach with my client I sensed the eagerness to implement new smart lighting systems, while at the same time being realistic that sourcing of product and services will have to come from overseas and that specifically maintenance will be a challenge with very little manufacturers and companies have representation in Bangladesh. A strategy will have to be developed to make sure that not only will we be able to source our lighting fixtures reliably, we will also need to find knowledgeable contractors to install and ways to program and maintain whatever is to be installed for the long term. Bangladesh and LDoT…a very interesting challenge for the near future ahead of us 😊
What a contrast being in Australia a few days later…It was time to go back to Perth to spent some time in our office and work away at some of our ongoing projects. Australia is a country where everything seems to have been regulated, specifically when it comes to occupational health and safety (OHS). We are working on upgrading the lighting in some heritage churches to new LED technology, but every single work step has to comply with the regulations, if there is the slightest risk of danger, compliance to rules is imperative, whether it is the maximum height of a ladder, the minimum required ceiling space for a person to move, the proximity of any potentially dangers ducting, cabling or wiring, the list is endless. A simple re-lamping job we undertook this week was still on-going by the time I left, just because of this…sometimes it really seems over the top and definitely does not stimulate motivated productivity! The fear of being sued at times overtaking reason…
LDoT challenges: wired versus wireless
As we move towards implementing our first LDoT projects, one of the biggest challenges we have encountered is the disconnect between top management and the on the ground contractors. While we are discussing ways to reduce costs by going wireless we have found that in the meantime contractors, rusted in their traditional habits are already laying vertical cabling for switches in anticipation of the lighting plans they have seen…while we were too late in one project we did manage to put a hold on all vertical wiring in another project.
Understandably there is a certain fear on site that with ongoing construction works, cables have to be laid in time to avoid having hacking back concrete later on…the unfamiliarity with wireless systems in the lighting industry is still very dominant. Will it work? Is it reliable? Yet, nobody doubts the reliability of their TV’s remote control…todays remote wireless lighting controls are as reliable…we just need to get used to it…
Have a great time ahead, enjoy some impressions of Bangladesh below…
Views from our site…
Some night lighting!
A new day…
The internet cabling…boosters everywhere…
Singapore – Bangkok – Singapore, Weekend 2-3 February 2019
And so my blog seems to become a bi-weekly event…I mentioned my intention to slow down in my first blog of the year 2 weeks ago…I did sit behind my laptop working away some emails last weekend and feeling slightly guilty not writing my blog as I am a man of discipline, but then I let the events of the weekend unfold. I went to play my regular Saturday morning tennis with a group of friends as I do when I am in town and not traveling, then went on to other social activities over the weekend slowly pushing the urge to write my blog to the back of my mind…having written my blog for the last 10 years obviously get’s you into a routine and letting go is not as easy as you think!
Not to despair however, as the time freed up is making way for new things to come. I have meanwhile completed my 3rd Light Talk video interview with experts in their fields (with more to come!) which when editing is complete, will soon be available on our YouTube channel. Also in the making is Light Talk 2, the book with a compilation of my 15 years (!) of writing my column for Lighting Today Magazine…it is shaping up nicely and I hope to present it some times during this year.
ILight Marina Bay 2019 – launch event
One of the big events that kicked of last week was the launch of the ILight Marina Bay lighting festival in Singapore. The festival runs as part of the bi-centennial celebrations of the city state with many other events planned in celebration of the cities 200 year history. I was invited as a guest to attend the pre-opening launch that included a boat tour along the majority of the art works. The selection process has always been a mystery to me, with some selections definitely no-brainers with great visual impact and interest, others that leave you head scratching on why that was selected. Most installations have costs that are many times more then the allocated budgets (even if you include sponsor funds) which leaves you thinking haw that is properly allocated. I know for a fact that some artists were actually invited to participate (did not even submit something) but asked based on a previous installation done in another city. While I understand that there are political and commercial underlying reasons that define the final decision in regards to the selection of artworks, it does create a little uneasy feeling that it is not a totally open and fair playing field for budding artists that submit their artworks. Anyhow that is just a little site observation, as overall the end result of this year’s line up is pretty impressive with some great installations sure to woo the general public. It will run till the end of February.
City lighting festivals is the trend of modern day with many cities around the world now having some kind of light festival. It brings in the tourists and puts the city on the world map, through the many magical pictures it provides…
Last week also saw me going to Bangkok to engage the client on one of our projects about the implementation of smart lighting in their hotel. This is not as easy as it seems because most clients are still “wired” the old conventional way. So my presentations were tailored to gradually lead them by the hand towards smart thinking. I started with our “traditional” lighting design concepts with renderings showing the intended lighting effects through our layers of light presentation. Having put them at ease in regards to the lighting effects and various scenes they can expect I moved to the more “complicated” stuff, our LDoT approach. Explaining the process of data infra-structure design, I walked them through the many and various options that are available to understand space usage, opportunities for more efficient human deployment and most of all the ways to reduce energy consumption on a massive scale. For this it is important to understand that the bulk of the energy consumption in hotels is in the air-conditioning, more then double the lighting energy consumption. So integrating smart sensoring to allow adaptive controls of both lighting and air-conditioning makes a lot of sense and our ROI calculations showed that very clearly, with massive saving along the way.
With the client now on board we are working towards fitting out the current Mock Up Room with a scalable data infra-structure platform that will facilitate these cost saving functions. The infra-structure will have additional smart features linked to in-room mobile device applications. It will be our first pilot and proof of concept project so we are super excited. The client, enthusiastic about the potential, is now also looking at fitting out their new corporate head office in a similar way…
LDoT challenges: wired versus wireless
One of the key challenges that we encounter in our projects in relation to implementing our LDoT approach is the gap between concept and reality. While we discuss the opportunities for wireless solutions, saving kilometres of cabling and wiring in the process, we find that on site the contractor moves in the conventional way, installing cable infra-structures based on the assumption it will be wired. The disconnect between the project team and the contractor in regards to implementing wireless solutions has to be addressed in the early days of a project. While in itself a smart solution can still work with a wired solution, the savings could be so much bigger (including the future flexibility and scalability) if due consideration is given in the early stages to communicate with the installation contractors, most of whom have yet to make the switch to modern day smart solutions and infra-structure installations. We have encountered this in our projects the hard way and therefore early engagement is becoming more and more crucial in successfully negotiating cost saving implementations of smart data and lighting infra-structures. I guess we are all learning…
To all celebrating Chinese New Year I wish you Gong Xi Fa Cai!
ILIGHT MARINA BAY
BANGKOK, UNTANGLING OURSLEVES FROM WIRED SOLUTIONS
THE 10 YEAR CHALLENGE…WIRED VS WIRLESS 🙂
OH YEAH, THE WORKMANSHIP…
Perth – Singapore – Guangzhou – Singapore,
Weekend 19-20 January 2019
A new year with new resolutions. This will be my 10th (!) season of blogging having started in late 2009, it has been a great run which has brought my readers, my own team as well as my self great satisfaction and appreciation. Being able to share and communicate is very gratifying. Over the years it has also become an addiction which is now creating a bit of a conflict…I still have the drive to share my experiences but at the same time having a growing desire to wind down and move on to other things…the blog is an incentive and a discipline to keep alert to the daily happenings in the life of light and lighting design. At the same time it is a demand on time and focus on daily activities which potentially takes away from some of my other interests (which are manifold!) My second book is in the making but progressing (too) slowly. Other activities both in lighting as in my private life are attracting my interest so this year will be a year of rebalancing my interests, my focus and energy, both professionally as well as privately.
To allow the change to happen I have moved from a “the week that was” to “the life of light” as a more general title to describe my blog with the aim to lift the weekly pressure of having to write a blog. I may still write weekly, but I may lump it to a 2-weekly or just event related blog. Frankly I don’t know how this year will work out…I do know that I will take it easier (this is my 40th year in lighting design!) and take my time. I remain fully involved and committed to my practices and our profession but will be more selective in what I do and take on…it’s time for the new generation to take over the mantle…
I may report on project issues or general lighting design subjects that we can all relate to or experience while practicing our profession. The emerging world of IoT and how that will impact the lighting design profession will certainly roar its head more and more frequently, certainly considering that we have set up a company “Lighting Design of Things” last year to face and deal with that reality and be able to serve our clients accordingly to these new demands…we have exciting times ahead!
In this first blog of the year I want to share 2 recent experiences, totally contrasting in content but which I suspect many can relate to. The first one is about an unreasonable client the other quite the opposite…
Unreasonable and disrespectful
In our line of work, we come across all types of clients, good guys and bad guys. Most of the time we never know what we will get certainly when it is a first time working together. Relationships are very personal even if the relationship is supposed to be professional. Over the last couple of weeks, we experienced a project manager who totally lost it in my personal opinion. We had been working with a very reputable interior designer/ architect and the also the rest of the team, contractors and suppliers is of good repute. The client itself is a stock exchange listed real-estate property developer with further interests in many trades, a very established name.
However, under pressure to finish the project more than a month before the previously agreed time line of January and with planned Xmas holidays looming things started to spiral out of control. We all know that it is impossible to realise in two days something that normally takes five days and if you do try to achieve that shortcuts and miscommunication are bound to happen. So, in order to get everyone aligned and on the same page only one solution works in my experience…and that is to apply reason, trust and respect. You have to trust your specialist consultants, heed their advice, communicate and consult on agreeable and workable solutions to meet the shorter deadlines.
Unfortunately, as at times happens with middle management in Asia, they have an urge to show of their position by bullying and blaming anyone they deem as being under their command”, literally. They pay your fee, so you owe them your undivided loyalty. True to a certain extent…it should never involve disrespect or unreasonable demands. Specifically, if it is directed in this particular case to dutiful subordinate staff doing their very best to help and comply. What is unacceptable is that the bullying and blaming puts that staff under uncalled stress and duress which in return creates resentment and wanting to walk away. I spent a good part of my holidays counselling and directing my team not to take these attacks on their work as personal, even if it brought them to tears at some points! I am sure that some of you have experienced this type of unreasonable and disrespectful project managers or clients.
The good news is that you come out of this a stronger person, an experience richer and better equipped to deal with unreasonable and disrespectful people in the future, it is part of our learning experience. I personally went through these project periods many times. Today I front these people head on and tell them my mind prepared to walk away if they can’t muster any trust or respect. We are not perfect, by no means, and we do miss out things and make mistakes, but we own up and resolve it together…we are human beings and expect to be treated that way! The project is now about completed and by the looks of it with a happy ending…the end-result looks beautiful but a bitter taste remains…
Trust and respect
At the other end of the spectrum are the clients that selected you based on your merits and your proven track record. You are their specialist in every sense of the word, they respect you and they trust you. They seek your expertise opinion, they respect your professional opinion and communicate professionally in how to meet time and budget lines. It does not mean they accept everything you say, but these relationships and communications are based on mutual trust and respect, which in my experience brings out the best in people. There may be the odd one out that abuses that trust and respect but in my book this kind of trust and respect demands and achieves professionalism, performance and delivers more than your clients expects from its consultants. It motivates to prove them they are right to trust you, you owe it to your client, you owe it to yourself and the company!
I travelled to China this week with one of those clients to visit one of those respected and trusted designers with manufacturing capabilities. We visited their showroom and manufacturing plant, but most of all were treated with royalty and were shown why their reputation is so widely admired. They exceeded all expectation (at least mine) by having created real life mock up sections of the various design details essential to understand and visualise the overall design intent. It made everyone instantly drawn in to their determination to deliver quality and perfectionism. It gave the client instant confirmation their trust and respect were deserved and motivated me as fellow consultant to deliver to the same standards. It also forged an immediate bond and relationship that will benefit the project and its desired end result. I left on a high and returned to Singapore confident that this project will undoubtedly become a success…
…what a difference trust and respect can create!
—after a lot of blood sweat and tears…
The royal treat
The new Guangzhou airport terminal…