by Joachim Ritter
There is still hope. Sometimes things that are an absolute nuisance turn out to be meaningful and cool. For example, every spring I make a huge effort to remove all the green algae stuff from the paths and paved areas around our house. But today I learned that algae can actually be used to produce fuel. Now, the amount I have in my garden would not be sufficient to put an end to fracking, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Today food crops are being used for energy production, while millions are going hungry. Algae can help solve this dilemma. They are undemanding and even thrive in salt water basins set up on barren fields. They need sunlight to grow.
Scientists estimate that there are over 50,000 species of algae and cyanobacteria. Of these, 5000 are known. But, so far, only ten have been exploited with commercial success. Upon closer investigation of specific types of algae, scientists have discovered a variety of promising products. Many algae produce intermediate chemicals and synthesize protein mass and fats. While protein mass could be used as livestock feed, the fats could be converted into fuels.
Together with Berlin-based LED manufacturer Futurled, researchers from the Technical University Munich (TUM) have developed a technique for simulating a wide range of lighting and climate conditions. The highly efficient LEDs provide light with wavelengths between 400 and 800 nanometers and a radiation intensity of 1000 watts per square meter with an intensity distribution that very closely models natural sunlight.
This kind of facility would not have been possible using either incandescent or fluorescent lamps. Incandescent lamps generate too much heat and fluorescent lamps cannot produce the full spectrum of sunlight in the required intensity. Using LEDs it is possible to trigger specific, targeted wavelengths.
And where is all this leading to? It all points towards algae cultivation farms to produce the fuels we need. Let’s do it!
by Joachim Ritter
A while ago I decided to call myself a lighting designer. Every Christmas I illuminate my house and our front garden. And I have also installed a number of new luminaires in our home. All my guests were impressed by the lighting in my living-room and, as it happens, I am also saving a lot of energy, because I use LEDs, which can also change colour.
My friends were so inspired that they have asked me if I could help them transform their homes with a little light. “Sure,” I told them jokingly, “I’ll do anything for money…”.
Naturally, all my friends wanted to pay me for my work. That’s what they said anyway.
I set about taking photos of my friends’ homes, which I then edited using Photoshop. I made the images look generally darker and proceeded to add some brighter areas – and a touch of colour here and there. Some of the images I photoshopped to the same level of brightness, but using different colours. That was my way of depicting dynamic light. It looked really good, and certainly convinced my friends.
They were pretty excited to say the least and insisted that I start adding some new luminaires to their homes right away! One of my friends is a businessman and even asked me to create a new lighting scheme for his office – and to choose some new lamps for his car park while I was at it. That was a bit much for me, which is why I left it to a lighting manufacturer, who was good enough to create a nice looking CAD drawing for me that I could pass on to my friend. He thought it was great, especially since by using LEDs he can achieve energy savings of 40%. I enjoyed helping him out and charged him a lump-sum fee of € 1500. Actually, it should have been € 2000, but he persuaded me to lower the fee to € 1500. In return, I asked him to write a testimonial for my website.
AR Lighting Design stands for Architecture Reality Lighting Design.
My next two projects were even bigger. At any rate, I had completed three projects in all, which I delivered “with a little help from my friends” in the lighting industry. I received some reimbursment for my effort from them. It was a percentage per luminaire.
For some time now I have been active in various forums and groups in LinkedIn and have posted a significant number of comments. I have gathered quite a number of new friends that way, and some of them are even followers of mine. Last week I received an invitation to give a paper at a conference in New York City. Unfortunately, I can’t go because I have applied to be a workshop head for the “festival” in Alingsås.
In the meantime I decided to apply for membership in a lighting designers’ association. I had written comprehensive reports on all three projects and handed all the documents in with my application. Now I am a member of an association for professional lighting designers.
I contacted a university and asked if any young designers might be interested in doing an internship with me. And now I have two employees. I was then approached by a client to design the lighting for a large-scale project. That was really a bit much for me so I decided to cooperate with a lighting designer with more experience than me. The project is now completed and looks stunning – with a media façade and everything. In fact, I think I might submit it for a design competition and try to win an award. Lots of people have said the project is really amazing. I am sure I will win something, and then I’ll be a real lighting designer …
What am I?
by Mark A. Carlson
We have reached that moment in time when a decision can no longer be placed on the table for future discussion. Regardless of whether the industry acts, I believe we are beginning to slide backwards given the current acts of encouragement to devalue our professions. We are well past the time to just “think about it.” The Lighting Design community needs to come together now and contribute to defining what we are, what it is we do, why we do it, and how we do it.
We exist in a state of confusion. Neither the consumer nor the trade practitioner has any clear understanding of these questions. If we, as an industry or as an individual artist cannot properly project the benefits we provide for society, then we will continue to lack recognition and advancement. And when I say advancement, I mean increased income opportunities. We must be proactive and act.
Although I am speaking directly to my small niche community of Landscape Lighting Designers, I do not believe that it is any different for most any other Lighting Designer. We are all part of one common community. In the past two years, I have seen several impactful changes – matters are getting worse.
If time allowed, I could go to great lengths to describe these problems, but that is not my intention here. Rather, it is my purpose to generate movement. However, I would like to make one brief point about a topic that I believe is causing the discrediting of our profession. Our markets are saturated with manufacturers and so-called manufacturers (importers) who provide knockoff products under a different name. This oversaturation is one of the primary causes of our price wars. It serves to encourage the devaluation of quality in both products and services.
Services are affected because they are equally associated with cost control. Lighting installers are greatly impacted by these measures and services must be competitive. In many instances, corners are being cut in order to maintain labor costs and to align with the decrease in product costs. This only provides the consumer with a cheapened experience. Should the contractor decide to stand above this and maintain his service costs, then he stands a greater chance of losing a prospective buyer. Although, this strategy should be encouraged – to identify one’s qualities through higher quality standards.
This is all I will say for now, as I would rather provide and inspire solutions. The focus here will be in finding the best path to take and to act upon it.
Providing value is our solution
Our solution is both simple and complex: to provide the market with an understanding of our associated value, as a Lighting Designer. Most consumers do not understand the importance of light nor do they fully appreciate how we apply light to make our spaces more comfortable and pleasurable.
As stated earlier, the consumer is confused…..we have no unifying message or standards. Many see us in the same light as the common electrician and in worse cases, the handyman! This is a bold reflection, as many consumers believe they can perform their own lighting services within the scope of a Do-It-Yourselfer project. This is a scary thought, yet a daily occurrence. Why would someone believe that they can perform these services on their own without any proper training or experience? Why does the consumer market believe that working with electricity is safe and easy? The only reason is because we have failed to properly educate them – they are clueless!
What is encouraging the market to perform lighting design services or electrical work? It is the internet and easy access to information. Anyone can find instructional information and how-to videos on YouTube. This kind of exposure is both good and bad. It serves to educate, but it also encourages consumers to do it themselves. The inherent problem is that there are no controls established. We cannot ensure that the proper information or advice is being disseminated.
Let us take a moment to analyze what currently exists. The typical consumer of our products and services does not understand the extent of Lighting Design. This explains why we are not properly appreciated or even compensated. What is likely to be the primary concern of these consumers? It is cost. This is a huge barrier and issue for each of us to overcome. Unfortunately, this is a big discriminating factor which exists at the front-end of every job. We are forced to “prove” ourselves over and over again.
Why don’t we ask ourselves what the root of the problem is, as it applies to this cost battle? The problem lies in the form of education and awareness. It is nothing more than a lack of understanding. This needs to be the primary focus for the lighting industry. The consumer and trade practices need to be taught what is acceptable practice and the importance of why we are so necessary in their lives.
One of the great challenges we face is how to define ‘good’ lighting versus ‘poor’ or ‘bad’ lighting. Unfortunately, this inevitably means dealing with subjective comments. How can one say that another person’s design is not good? Herein lies the challenge. However, there has to be a set of basic practices and principles to follow. These guidelines should use safety as their premise for best applications, as there is no disputing that this is of the utmost concern.
Going back to the primary objective here, we must place value on what we do. Value is the key to a successful future that is advancing.
What is hurting the value proposition?
There are several things that are hurting this value proposition. One, I believe, is the defining of the terms and/or titles we use. This might sound a little odd, but it all makes sense when it adds to the consumer’s confusion. Take for example the particular term or title, “Professional.” What is one suppose to know about this? We should all ask the following:
• What does this word really mean?
• What does it mean to the lighting industry?
• What does this word imply in one’s title?
No value has been given to this word, and this leaves consumers to only guess or believe what they are told. What are we or they supposed to think when the majority of all lighting practitioners call themselves a ‘professional’ or an ‘expert?’ This cannot be true and it is not a valid statement. If there are no parameters, then there is no meaning or value associated with this.
To provide an example, I will utilize my own profession of Landscape Lighting. Currently, we have no real authority or voice. We can perform and provide just about any service without having to prove who we are. Most of us use these titles or terms and make claims without any questions asked. This is a serious problem and a threat to the credibility of our profession. The underlying problem is: we will be associated together under one discipline and valued based upon the acts of everyone’s performance. If a percentage of the trade are making poor decisions (cutting corners, providing inferior products, and performing poor services), then the whole industry will be associated with this. This has been the case for many years – we have been lumped in with the Do-It-Yourselfers and the handyman services.
These inadequacies are making our opportunities to advance even more challenging. This fact alone is reason enough to support a segregation of the practice. Licensing and certification are a means to provide this segregation. If Lighting Designers are to advance and to be properly compensated, then we must separate the good from the bad.
There are many that do not support licensing and certification. I disagree, because it is in our best interest to do so. We must have a means to isolate the good from the not so good. This will be our only means to successfully earn a proper wage and credential. If we cannot properly communicate these differences, then we will continue to encourage the current state of confusion.
The steps we need to take
Please understand that I do not claim to have all of the answers, but I am willing to provide suggestions and steps that I would consider to help advance this cause. The following should serve as a starting point:
1. To develop a control group or authority to oversee and establish these parameters. There must be one authority to act as this voice. It should comprise industry specialists with real and practical experience. It should act as a moderator for the entire group and all industry specialties.
Could this be one of the existing lighting organizations we have? This is unknown, because there may be conflicts associated by country or region. It would be in our best interest to ensure that this is an international effort. However, if this cannot occur, then we need to develop an independent group outside of what exists.
The point is to all come together under one form of control.
2. To define the role and expectations of a Lighting Designer, including the various specialties associated under this title. The general title is established in the broadest sense, and it needs to ensure that it includes all specialty disciplines.
Overall, the control group should provide the elements to define a Lighting Designer. But, the various specialties should gather their own panel of seasoned professionals to act in representing their best interest.
In an effort to spur thought, I am providing a list to consider for these specialty groups:
• Interior vs. Exterior
• Architectural vs. Environmental
• Line Voltage vs. Low Voltage
• Landscape or Garden
• Roadway & Parking
• Public Transit & Airport
3. To quantify and establish the expectations of each title or term as it relates to experience. This will be one of the more difficult areas to achieve. These determinations should be based on education, knowledge, technical ability/skills, and artistic application. They should also consider one’s performance in business and the performance within the art itself. Parameters and measures should be determined at the ‘minimum’ level of requirement.
Time is the relevant parameter for the above determinations. The quantity and quality of these experiences need to be understood. Considerations should be analyzed based on individual parameters and combined parameters. Should any one parameter be ranked higher than another? Again, this will be the most challenging of the tasks.
To summarize these thoughts, here are the items that need to be addressed:
• Classification of experience levels
• Establishment of what is considered ‘professional’ Standards and Practices
• Development of parameters and expectations for each specific discipline
• Segmentation by certification and/or licensing
This is the most important identifying factor for anyone serving in these professions. Experience is the parameter that can define our value. There are two statements made several years ago by the highly respected, Mr. Howard Brandston. I would like to use them here, because I agree with what he said. They are described in issue #79, October 2011 in Professional Lighting Design magazine, under the article, “Lighting Design is an Art”:
“One can be expected to be classified as a Lighting Designer, if one has produced a reasonable amount of work.”
This is exactly where Mr. Brandston questions whether this qualifies one to be considered a professional or not. He continues to explain that all designers may be defined as being ‘practitioners’. His opinion continues, as he asks, “When does one become a professional?” And, here is his response:
“One can only become a true ‘Professional’ when one makes a recognized contribution to the profession. That recognition must come from one’s peers.”
Although I agree with this, I do see a potential for misunderstanding. The first applies to the word ‘reasonable.’ What are these parameters? I am assuming that this is for the broad classification or title of Lighting Designer, but will there be any experience levels established under this?
The next word to question is ‘Professional’. Currently, we have no parameters to measure this, at least not in my specific discipline. Take, for example, the use of this word as it is seen in many organization names….the “Association of XXX Professionals.” Does that not seem to imply that all of their members are professionals? This only adds to the consumer confusion, because nothing has been defined. What if the majority of the members of these groups are primarily considered ‘Practitioners’ and not ‘Professionals?’ Is that not misleading?
Personally, I would highly encourage the Landscape Lighting discipline to have an established classification system for these varying experience levels. These levels should all fall under the title of ‘Practitioner’ until they can be considered a ‘Professional,’ as defined above. We desperately need this reform because there are too many practicing this trade to sub-standard levels.
We cannot wait any longer to define our work, which includes the terms associated with it. Segmentation and the defining of our roles are most important. Advancement cannot occur unless we take action on this score. The consumer has the most to benefit from this and we, as trade representatives, must provide this.
Our value must be established and defined. It must include expectations and standards. This will allow us to justify a fee structure. We need a clear and concise measure to the benefits we provide to the community. Education must first start with the consumer level.
It is our professional duty to actively develop, advance, protect, and preserve the foundations of our practices. The hope of the next generation of Lighting Designers is dependent upon that. Should we fail and continue to be inactive, then we are only closing our door to opportunity. It is time to provide assurances for those seeking a future in this industry.
Mark A. Carlson is the Owner of Avalon Lighting Design located in Roseville, California/USA. He is recognized by his peers as an industry professional and as an award-winning Landscape Lighting Designer. He is an author, technical writer, designer, contractor and consultant in this specialized discipline. He has been working as an artistic craftsman in the field for more than 15 years.
by Joachim Ritter
If you could choose to change anything in your life in retrospect it is more than likely that you would wish to be transported back in time to when you had the opportunity to learn and gain a good education. Many of us feel we would want to put this time to better use, especially since we now have less time at our disposal thanks to our jobs or careers, but also because we may now be financially better off and therefore able to optimise our learning efforts.
To be honest, this is hardly feasible for any of us. Either we do not have the time, or we do not have sufficient funding. That is why we, the society, should be making every possible effort to support those young people who are still in education programmes, or who have recently embarked on their professional careers, and do everything imaginable to enable them to prepare for the future: A future which is also our future.
It is sometimes alarming how little education programmes and initiatives for the coming generation of designers are acknowledged, appreciated and supported. We from VIA Publishing and from the Professional Lighting Design magazine believe that modern-day society needs and deserves good education programmes and that we should not need reminding of this social commitment. We should simply be aware of it all the time.
We are therefore delighted to have found partners who are willing and interested in helping us realise our concept to promote young lighting designers and Lighting Design students. We trust that this first edition of The Challenge will develop over the coming years and attract more attention and support. Philips, Reggiani, as well as Ansorg, Xicato and the Society of Light and Lighting, have offered their generous support this year to make the first year of The Challenge possible.
The response and interest we as initiators and organisers of The Challenge have met with to date has been tremendous. Even in the early stages of the competition the enthusiasm demonstrated by all involved confirmed that we were on the right track with this project. The Challenge has brought us in contact with young designers who are able to present their theses and ideas extremely competently and already as students, or after only just having graduated, are offering the kind of content in their papers that are worthy of being presented at a professional conference. And we are honoured to be able to count on the guidance and support from true lighting professionals, who have all been working passionately to help perfect what the young talents have been working on, both from the point of view of content as well as with advice on how to best present the material. How much more fruitful and concrete can education get? And mutually beneficial into the bargain – the experienced lighting designers acting as coaches are also gaining new knowledge and inspiration.
In Round III of our speaker competition in Edinburgh only five of the 15 young designers who have made it so far will be selected to continue to the final round at PLDC in Rome. And one of these five will leave Rome as the overall winner of the competition. But every one of the 15 in Edinburgh for Round III are also entitled to feel they are winners: in the process of The Challenge they have gained a tremendous amount for their personal development and have undergone a unique experience that they will remember for a long time to come.
See here for more oinformation: The Challenge
Which year exactly is the year of light?
by Joachim Ritter
IIn the course of your professional life there are always key moments or special situations that leave a lasting impression on you, or maybe even end up becoming a principle to live by. At this point, I am reminded of a statement once made by Klaus-Jürgen Maack, former CEO of Erco, who – up to his retirement a few years ago – was responsible for establishing the company brand that has remained successful and is recognised as a market leader to this day.
Klaus-Jürgen Maack once said: “Why should I read what I already know?” It didn’t take long to see that he was absolutely right. I certainly don’t waste my time reading about a specific topic time and time again – unless I get the impression that what I am reading indeed contains a different point of view or new arguments, in which case reading more about it makes every bit of sense. From that moment in time when Herr Maack spoke those meaningful words, I swore to myself that any reports or articles I wrote, and all issues of the PLD I publish, must offer readers something that is not yet widely known. Articles that always contain a clear statement – and clear evidence – to justify the effort I make and the texts I write to truly enlighten readers. This, I have to add, is becoming increasingly more difficult in the Digital Age we now live in, where anything and everything is promptly copied and pasted all over the Internet and social media – without proof reading or correction.
That is why, now at the beginning of this year, I will not point out that Unesco have declared 2015 the Year of Light, because if there is anyone in the lighting industry who has not got wind of this in the last three months, he or she is most likely beyond help. I, for one, was constantly reminded of this on a practically daily basis on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or in e-mails. There was no way I could have not acknowledged it, along with the reminder that we should all make sure that we do not miss this unique opportunity. And now here we are. In 2015. From now on, the days will pass by, one at a time. And with every day that passes it is our job to use our time sensibly to make society in general more aware of the value and significance of (good) light(ing).
But are we really prepared for this? We can at least maintain that everyone in the lighting scene is aware of the Year of Light. But that is not actually the goal of this project. We “lighting people” know full well how important light is. But it is more a question of society as a whole, of clients, building owners, anyone who does not work with or think about light on a daily basis. They need to be more informed. An announcement in the news and an opening ceremony will not be sufficient to bring about a fundamental change in society. Or are we hoping for a “quick win” – a period that will bring us loads of jobs and higher fees for what we as designers do? If this really sums up our expectations, then the disappointment in twelve months’ time will strike deep. It’s not that easy to change things, unfortunately.
‘Year of Light’ or not – I really don’t want to know what we will be saying at the end of this year and if we will end up having to confess that in 2016 everything will return to normal and in the years following the Year of Light we will not be any nearer to establishing the profession than we were at the end of 2014. Has the online petition with over 1000 signatures, which was addressed to the President of the IALD, Barbara Horten, had any effect at all? The The petition was a call to use the Year of Light to establish Lighting Design as a profession. Maybe there is something of historical dimensions going on in the background that is only visible to an exclusive few. If that is the case, then please let us know!
Then I could finally read what I don’t already know.
by Joachim Ritter
Everyone has a typical daily routine. Mine includes watching the news on TV at 8 p.m. This is also a conscious move to conclude a working day, and forces me to tear myself away from my desk. Maybe it also helps me to be more aware of the fact that – in spite of all the hurdles and challenges I am faced with every day – in my case, life is not that bad. Watching the news is frustrating, sobering, and sometimes terrifying.
But to be honest, despite all the negative headlines gathered from around the world and compressed into 15 minutes’ broadcasting time, reality is sometimes quite different from what we are dished up by newscasters. And we tend not form our opinions based on information in its entirety, but rather on a carefully prepared condensed news report. It is not surprising that we often come to pass judgement on occurrences very fast and end up taking a stance that actually does not relate to reality.
While the Iran Lighting Design Conference 2014 was taking place in Teheran, talks were being held in Vienna on the country’s nuclear programme and specific economic sanctions that are to be enforced. Within the framework of the lighting conference and in conversations one had with colleagues it was very evident that the Iranian society is yearning for a new start and to put the past behind them. There is a clear willingness to restructure society to be part of the international set-up, especially on the part of the professional people present, who were unanimous on this point in all discussions. In this respect, lighting design is exemplary for this new way of thinking in Iran.
And when they run a report in the news about 100 protesters taking to the streets in Iran, which to the rest of the world comes across as a crowd of demonstrators vehemently demanding the right to use modern technology – meaning the peaceful use of nuclear energy – this number no way compares to the 1600 attendees at the lighting design conference that was taking place at the same time, in which all discussions revolved around the question of how to create and develop a modern society. Every society has its share of extremists, whereby the demand for a basis on which to build a modern society cannot be defined as being extremist.
The demands being made by thousands of extremists in different European countries are a far bigger problem right now. Far-right parties now have seats in the European Parliament. With respect, the followers of these political representatives outnumber any protest movement in Iran by far.
I prefer to stick to what I, together with many other international speakers and the ILDC conference, experienced first-hand: openness, hospitality, interest, education and cooperation. I would not go as far as to claim that lighting design is some kind of peacemaker, but it does present a level at which people can cooperate with one another superbly, live together in harmony, and achieve common goals.
What Iran is also instead of politics: Well just see some of the pictures of architect and photographer Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji about Iranian architecture and existing nature in Iran.
Please also see the report on ILDC 2014 in Teheran in November 2014 here.
by Joachim Ritter
The ‘digital world’ and ‘media facades’ still tend to count more as buzz words than terms to describe a trend that has become a standard part of the architectural landscape. That said, architecture is about to be faced with a design boom (and I don’t mean a trendy website). It is pretty clear that media screens are going to have a serious impact on lighting design, if not become an elementary part of it. The rhythmic illumination of a series of columns across a facade will soon be attributed to an era that is close to coming to an end.
Many designers still fail to understand how media elements will affect architectural design. We should certainly stop referring only to media walls. Media surfaces can comprise ceilings, floors, walls and stand-alone installations. I suppose we could resort to films like ‘Bladerunner’ for inspiration. But the new real world has come a long way since the science-fiction interpretations of the 1980s. The architecture of tomorrow is not likely to be reverting to paradigms related to the Bladerunner era. Architecture today is already organic and integrative. Architects no longer appear to be subject to any restrictions worth mentioning, and media surfaces can be woven into practically any structural design. Visual content, interaction design and programming will gain in significance and become the main focus of the design, leaving the structural engineering to take care of itself.
The design for a shopping centre in Dongfeng, China for Hanhai Real Estate provides a lot of food for thought. The project has little to do with what we understand by a shopping mall today and looks more like a 3D rendering of an urban district. The overall structure provides the framework for shopping, hanging out in cafés, some green spaces and a water element. Natural elements have been included wherever possible. Grassed areas can be found on different floors.
The design draws inspiration from Classical Chinese “Treasure Bowl/Cornucopia”, a special container symbolizing auspiciousness and happiness. It has set out to create a vibrant yet intimate “urban container”, a public setting that embraces all kinds of social activities, generates immersive experience–a celebration of cultural and geographic openness and diversity. The overall result is an interconnected community grounded in tradition but poised for the future.
Interior landscape is another feature of the design. Zhengzhou is among the country’s top ten most- polluted cities. To raise the citizen’s awareness on environmental protection and aid in the creation of a microclimate for visitors, the design adopt both horizontal and vertical greening into the building. The roof garden, together with visible indoor green spaces to the street level pedestrians, proposes a new alternative for enhancing the condition of the urban environment, while maximizing landscape efficiency.
The fountain plaza and canal on the 5th level, together with a vertical aquarium, introduce the element of water, a symbol of life into the building. The elevated fountain plaza, functions as a community gather place, will be the largest of its kind in China. Visitors can experience the water promenade through a gondola tour along the canal or take a breathtaking ride in the glass elevator through the aquarium. Various theme restaurants are scattered around the theme of water. All of which create an unprecedented experiences for local citizens of Zhengzhou, a northern city with dry climate, giving the building the highest degree of originality.
The huge integral media surfaces focus on the theme of water and our fascination with it. A gigantic arch spans the central arena, creating the iconic image and providing an omnipresent backdrop. The screens display dynamic images of waterfalls, aquarium life, and of course also advertising …Which brings us back to the world of science fiction and the inherent literature and movies.
Once built, Dongfeng City will become the new urban landmark, a powerful catalyst that giving the district a new lease on life.
And again we can pose the question: how far away are we from such visions? And again we can determine: we have long crossed the threshold to the Media Age, and these massive media surfaces can actually no longer be termed a ‘vision’. In Las Vegas they have had a huge, moving semi-circular media wall displaying videos of a catwalk surrounding one of the new plazas for a number of years now. And what is possible in North America, is definitely not impossible for China – more of an incentive, I would say.
Visualisations: Hanai Real Estate
Vincent van Gogh Foundation renovates mansion in Arles, France to create a modern art gallery dedicated to Van Gogh.
by Joachim Ritter
Photos: Hervé Hôte, Fluor Architecture
Any self-respecting journalist has a hard job dealing with new terminology. I had some trouble accepting the trendy German neologism “geflasht”, which is basically used in the context of music appreciation (rock music and the like), and in English would most likely be translated using words like “dig” or “amazed” or “knocked out” – which don’t sound particularly new in English, I have to admit! Anyway, today I had an experience where the only word that came to mind to describe what I felt was “geflasht”. I was viewing some images of a project that immediately rendered me “geflasht”, spellbound, completely overwhelmed. Formerly, people would have used words like “astounding” or “beautiful” or “aesthetically convincing”. But they would not be enough to do justice to this project. There are apparently projects being designed and realised today that give rise to, or justify the use of, linguistic developments. Modern architecture and modern lighting philosophies have succeeded in coaxing it out of me. I am – there’s no other word for it – “geflasht”.
The project that caught my attention (see, that sounds so weak …) is owned by the Van Gogh Foundation in Arles/F, the heart of an area the master loved to paint. It comprises the 15th-century Hôtel Léautaud de Donines, a stone mansion off the Place du Forum in the centre of Arles, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been transformed into a 1,000 square metre modern gallery. The complete renovation of the former private mansion in Arles responds to the Foundation’s desire to bring a contemporary perspective to the work of Vincent van Gogh. A highly original artistic approach has been applied to summon the genius of Van Gogh through the works of 20th and 21st-century artists. The technical specifications demanded by the most prestigious museums had to be met, and the renovation work and extension were to reflect (literally) another major feature of the location, the special light in Arles, which was so dear to Van Gogh.
The architectural project tapped into the core of the Foundation’s artistic mission: to create a series of exchanges. Starting with conversations between Van Gogh (absent in body but present in spirit through the light and the location) and the artists: those who are a part of the collection, those invited to exhibit, and those artists who have created works in harmony with the building: Bertrand Lavier with his sliding entrance wall, Raphael Hefti with his coloured glass sculpture on the roof of the bookshop, and Fritz Hauser, who created the stairwell.
Natural light guides visitors through the reorganised exhibition spaces. As the visitor passes through the gallery, he experiences colourful projections on the immaculate walls of the reception area and gift shop, generated by the glass roof above the entrance in the courtyard. Skylight openings in the large exhibition hall relay the effects generated by the structure on the rooftop terrace, which consists of 20 shed roofs arranged in five rows of three, each oriented according to the path of the sun. And then there is the direct daylight from the open sky on the cascading terraces which are arranged to sketch out a variety of landscapes.
The Foundation was created in 1983 with the mission to preserve the works of Van Gogh and to present their importance in arts through the ages. The project described here has been nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2015.
Client: Fondation Vincent van Gogh d’Arles
Architects: Fluor Architecture – Guillaume Avenard and Hervé Schneider
Daylight consultant: Ingelux Consultants
Lighting design: Wonderfulight
Artists whose works are integrated into the architecture: Raphael Hefti, Bertrand Lavier, Fritz Hauser.
by Joachim Ritter
Over the last few months we have seen an increasing number of interesting developments within leading companies in the lighting sector, which in turn make for a clear indication of change in the market as a whole. Such occurrences are frequently interpreted as being negative, especially if the changes applied inherently incur changes in job requirements, or to be more direct: workforce reductions. And yet in principle all the modifications or changes currently taking place are in some way linked to adjusting to lighting in the digital age. In other words, nothing more or less than consistent development. And again we are confronted with yet another milestone along the way, which is due to come into effect as of 1. January, 2015…
In the end it is all a question of perception. In this case, too, we could talk at length as to whether this date is to mark the start of a new era, or the conclusion to a nine-year process which entailed moving away from conventional lighting instruments and towards 100 per cent digital lighting, which is reflected in the range of products lighting manufacturers are currently launching – or in part already offering.
Anyway … the international lighting industry is shaped to a large extent by German manufacturers, who are represented by the ZVEI, the German Electrical and Electronics Industry Association. According to the ZVEI, in 2014 the percentage of sales of digital lighting products is estimated at between 30 and 40 per cent. But at least one of the traditional manufacturers is expecting a percentage nearer 80 per cent over the same period of time. Which can only mean that the New Year is likely to kick-off with a bang – or at least with the official announcement that the first traditional lighting manufacturer has opted to cease producing conventional lighting solutions altogether and will be focussing exclusively on digital light. What does that mean for a manufacturer?
Well, if the manufacturer intends to keep consistently to the corporate policy of maintaining their leading position as a supplier of first-class products, digital lighting technology enables them to perform the entire production process in-house – apart from manufacturing the LEDs, of course. To date, conventional manufacturing processes have meant that ballasts, lamps and reflectors were supplied from sources external to the company. But given the new, dramatically compact manufacturing processes required for products based on digital light, electronics or high-quality lens manufacture can be handled cost-effectively on the company’s own responsibility. That is to say: no more HIT or reflector deliveries, no ballasts or other components from external suppliers. Quality manufacturing in-house – another way of ensuring that manufacturers can stand their own on a market that is renowned for its keen competition. The suppliers are no longer the same sources that all competitors use. Qualities and developments are defined by an individual company and remain that company’s property and responsibility.
It was only a question of time when the first manufacturer of conventional luminaires in specific market segments would opt to stop producing conventional lighting equipment. 2016 is a further milestone in the process to ban the incandescent lamp, and the tungsten halogen lamp. The fact that conventional lighting solutions are part of the history books a year before the politically approved deadline shows just how dynamic developments in the field of digital lighting are, and what design scope they offer. With hindsight, it was actually not really necessary to “ban the bulb”, because the arguments pro digital lighting solutions have become so overwhelming. Nobody in the professional field talks about compact fluorescent lamps any more. And if the ban had never happened, we would at least have been able to use incandescent lamps for sentimental reasons in historic luminaires without having to fear prosecution.
by Alison Ritter
It recently came to my notice that a TV commercial promoting the sale of chocolate to kiddies was actually based on a famous experiment carried out in the late 1960’s at Stanford University in California, one of the world’s most revered research institutions. The experiment was called The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control. Children of kindergarten age were sat at a table with a small toy – or a marshmallow – on it and told that they would be left alone in the room for a few moments. If they refrained from touching (or eating) the “object of desire” they would be rewarded with a second toy/marshmallow.
So what is this about? Self-control? The power of endurance? Or just about being patient? Sayings such as “good things come to those who wait” spring to mind, and we are always being told that “patience is a virtue”. But why? Why do we have to be patient if we can get what we want right away? We can source just about any information we need to know on the Internet. We can order clothes, books, entertainment products online and have them delivered the next day. And we can send back what we don’t want, or things we ordered without truly thinking about it. Wow! Is that progress – based on anti-patience?
Whatever field of work you are in, there will be times when you have to rustle up all your strength to be patient. Impatient people are often regarded as being insensitive or even arrogant. They come across as impulsive people who are likely to be poor decision-makers. Such people are unlikely to end up in leadership positions.
To return to the Marshmallow Test: this experiment was, of course, in the context of evolutionary psychology and cognitive neuroscience, where patience is studied as a decision-making problem, involving the choice of either a small reward in the short term, or a more valuable reward in the long term. Apparently, when given a choice, all animals – humans included – tend to favour short term rewards over long term rewards. In the Stanford experiment, the researchers were able to indicate that the children who showed self-control did better in school, had fewer problems with overweight or drugs, and were by far more successful professionally. Needless to say, in the TV commercial I mentioned above, the children succumbed to the temptation, because the goodies were simply too hard to resist.
It is hard to resist what appears to be a rewarding offer. We are faced with such offers on a daily basis, from buy-one-get-one-free at supermarkets (generally low or average quality commodities) to a plethora of profession-related offers we are encouraged not to refuse – courses, conferences, seminars, workshops that all promise to “enlighten” us. The right choice should be related to quality. Impulsive decisions may be ones we regret.
After the last PLDC in 2013 in Copenhagen, attendees left the venue informed, inspired and positively impatient. “What are we going to do until the next PLDC?” was a question frequently heard. Well, it’s still a year to go, but it will be worth waiting for.