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To be continued…

Characters in the lighting industry: Rogier van der Heide

by Joachim Ritter

It is often the characters circulating in a particular industry that give it its inimitable “flavour”, special characters who tend not to mince their words, who everyone knows, and who often leave the community split into two: those who are declared fans, and those who do not share that level of enthusiasm.

Rogier van der Heide is one such character, the lighthouse among all lighting experts. Formerly a lighting designer of the category IALD Full Voting Member, he is still a lighting designer, but one who is firmly positioned on the other side of the fence and is now regarded differently, or sometimes ignored, by his former independent colleagues. That does not mean that he has not maintained the skills to design lighting or that he has lost any of his design qualities. But the purists in the lighting design world tend to presume the latter is the case. Rogier has opted to view lighting design from another perspective. To be honest, at least he has the advantage of being able to spot developments and potential before many independent designers can do so. And yet many lighting designers cannot, or do not want to, accept this.

At times, Rogier van der Heide can be a bit of a Fidgety Philip. He is regularly invited to give a talk at events around the world. Standing on the stage, doing his best to impart his know-how, he simply cannot stand still and needs two to three square metres, sometimes gesticulating wildly, to express his opinions and communicate his statements. His long blond hair falls forward, half covering his face, and everyone can see how pointless it is to continually attempt to push it back or to one side. For a split second you can see his face and his eyes, which usually look pretty tired given that he spends a lot of his time jetting from conference to conference to represent his current employer through his unique charisma. As a rule, Rogier has to bend over to have a meaningful conversation with an individual. And everyone is waiting for the moment when he engages in a dialogue with Kaoru Mende.

His texts can be clever and witty, and laced with his special sense of humour. Even the way he embarks on a presentation at a conference is unique. Whereas all other speakers graciously thank the organisers for the invitation and opportunity to give a talk, Rogier van der Heide thanks the audience for attending his lecture. Sounds plausible in the first instance, but completely ignores the fact that attendees may also value other speakers and are sitting in the audience because they will also be presenting. Looking back on his professional career, he sometimes associates it with a bike ride from Amsterdam to Dornbirn. Who else, apart from Rogier, would come up with such an analogy? But you can’t really hold anything against Rogier, not anymore.

Roger van der Heide is able to put together presentations and communicate messages that remain in your head forever! Not always, but sometimes – and at any rate no less frequently than any other lighting designer who can go on for hours about his/her career as an independent lighting designer.
Rogier has stopped growing in height, but not when it comes to content. Which is why he continues to find fans and followers around the world who are inspired by his observations and knowledge and his dry sense of humour – or sometimes not.

An industry thrives on the community that forms it – special characters, like Rogier van der Heide.

Photo: Zumtobel

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About light, bulbs and eggs

by Joachim Ritter

Spiegeleier

Pan-luminaire with LED.

It is time to stop and think about changing consumer habits. Times change and there is a growing consensus that things are indeed changing for the better. This would appear to be a new approach! When I was a child the grown-ups were constantly telling how “everything was better in the olden days”, which I must admit I didn’t really understand. At the age of 20 I was reasonably content and could not imagine how life could have been better without colour TVs – an achievement that stems from my generation. Society has changed. It is just the perspective and the saying that remain. And when I catch myself thinking that everything really used to be better, or secretly wonder at least if that was not the case, I realise that the under 40s will not have a clue what I am talking about…

For me the incandescent lamp was the best light source ever. It took a while to convince me that the LED might be an adequate alternative. The young generation cannot understand this at all. LEDs offers so many advantages – from energy saving to the fact that you can control them. There is absolutely no question that state-of-the-art lighting has more advantages than disadvantages, and is thus an improvement on the “olden days” of the lamp world.

Foto 2

Fried egg under the ceiling…

We have to change. The good old light bulb is going to have to give way to advancement and will no longer be the topic of conversation. At last! Gone are the days of endless debate about whether to call the “beloved” lamp a bulb or an incandescent, when everyone meant the same but were simply using their own vernacular. We will have to find a new pet name for the most popular light source. Perhaps the LED fried egg. The yellow dot with the white bit around it. Or the egg lamp.

Never heard of it? Never seen it? Then you should take a closer look into the spotlights on the market. If I were to found a company that sells LEDs – a practically everyday occurrence on the market – I would consider calling it LEDEg, or in German LEDei (Ei = egg). And if the light source doesn’t work or the colour temperature is wrong, then we can always offer alternative products, because we don’t put all our eggs in one basket.

korb--korb-mit-heu--frische-eier--lebensmittel_3343482

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A day in the life of an editor

by Joachim Ritter

In our editorial department, it is our maxim that every article and every issue of the PLD must have a message. Our maxim also implies that the message needs to be unique. For that reason some so-called headings are NOT ALLOWED. These include the most hackneyed of all phrases bandied around over the course of lighting design history, spreading like a virus and affecting any headings and captions that cross their path. A problem indeed, since the heading, or the headline, is the most important indicator of the content of an article.

Top of the list of recurrent headings which are NOT ALLOWED in our editorial department is: “putting something in the right light”.

This heading is probably the most widely used title for articles describing the new lighting scheme for a monument, an old building of significance, a work of art, or a product. The idea is not to point out that the existing lighting was not correctly focussed, but rather that the new scheme using modern technology is always better than the old one. Whether that is true or not is questionable. It is not only the technology that is of importance, but the way that technology is applied. By design, so to speak!

mummies-4
Now, here is a fine example of a well chosen heading for an article: “Mummies – life beyond death”. This heading indicates that the lighting in Drents Museum in Assen (the Netherlands) is so good that the mummies look a lot livelier than they actually are, or were when they were alive. It attracted my attention at any rate. I wanted to find out more about how the lighting had revived the mummies after their passing away.

Conclusion: I would rather have my mummy lit to look alive again than have it wrongly put in the right light…

The source, for anyone who wishes to follow this up, is CLS LED, a manufacturer from the Netherlands who supplied the 130 Focus Compact Spot fixtures (3000 K, 95 CRI) for the exhibition.

Photo: CLS
www.cls-led.com

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“See the Light” – or … know what I mean?

A book about the common sense of lighting designers

A critique on Svante Pettersson’s Buch “See the Light” by Joachim Ritter

Imagine you get together with all your friends and colleagues from the lighting design community to sit around and talk about light. Through such activities you feel strengthened in your opinion or you learn something new, you describe what you think and hear what you have never put in words, developing your skills and beliefs in the process. A great feeling. Learning (not only) by seeing! Through the eye, but also through the heart.

By the same token you could sit yourself down and read Svante Pettersson’s book “See the Light”. It has the same effect as if you were discussing with and listening to colleagues. “See the Light” is a great work, a generously illustrated book with copious informative captions explaining how light works and how it triggers our emotions. It is not a work that describes and defines light in numbers, as is the case in other more technical fields, but is rather about the experiences the author, Svante, has made with light – as we all have done – and wants to share with us. I say Svante, because through the book he comes across as a close friend and a great colleague, one who feels what light is all about and can put it in a nutshell. EacSee the light freeh of the 14 chapters is like a segment of the lighting design world, with stories in words and pictures.

“See the Light” is a standard work, a highly inspirational book about light, the philosophy of light and the art of getting to know your visual sense. The latter is especially important, because everything that is described here is about our “sense of sight”, as it is referred to in the book – which is actually common sense.

The book comprises 14 chapters over 310 pages, beginning – not surprisingly – with Nordic Light, the light that obviously made the greatest impression on Svante, and continuing with topics such as Shadows, Glare, Light moments, the Tools of light, and many more.

You should not read this book if you do not have the aptitude to follow what Svante is referring to in his reports, because you are dependent on technical data and numbers to be able to realise your designs. The only numbers you will find in this book are the numbers of the pages. And yet, if you wish to engage with lighting design at this level and find that after reading the book you have indeed understood how light works, you will be in a position to design more successfully and with more effect than you have ever done basing everything on lighting metrics and standards from the start.

I would definitely recommend this book and even go as far as to say it is a must – not just to buy and stick on the shelf, but for everyday use on your desk. Because, when necessary, this work can help you to regain a human-scale approach to design, when you have lost yourself in the plethora of engineering values, standards and regulations.

Reading this book means living what we like about life: learning by seeing and feeling, and on all accounts with a smile on your face.

Svante Pettersson
See The Light
310 pages with many coloured pictures
Arvinius + Orfeus AB
www.ao-publishing.com
ISBN 978-91-87543-24-1

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Earth Hour 2015 – did you “join in?”

by Joachim Ritter

JoachimPortraitSW150x150I probably didn’t understand what it was all about. Or I forgot. Or I am a bit confused about the meaning behind it?

Let me try to explain why I have a problem with this initiative…
Many people in our society do not eat healthily. What they eat is too fat or too sweet, or they eat too fast or too much. And meat? Way too much compared to what our bodies really need. But we know all this. And it doesn’t change anything, or this state of affairs, if we eat badly 364 days a year and eat nothing at all on one day. And for all those who can provide seventeen good reasons for eating like they do in order to clear their conscience: forget it!

It’s not much different with Earth Hour. At the initiative of the WWF, more than 7000 cities around the globe switch the lights off for one hour every year. How daft is that? It certainly won’t help counteract global warming, nor will it influence the way people think about electricity or light. We are not changing anything – nothing at all. It’s like some kind of ‘remembrance hour’, or a big nudge to make people think about wasting energy for 60 minutes. How hypocritical is that?!

Perhaps we should talk more about light, or explain why designed lighting, or purposefully applied light, is important. Good lighting is a social necessity and not just messing around with electric light sources.

Nobody would dream of not driving their car for an hour or, what would be substantially more efficient, switching off all televisions around the world for an hour. That would be pretty easy to manage, too: all TV channels cancel their TV programmes for an hour. No TV programmes to choose from, no TV. That would save energy like crazy.

I would go as far as to say that the whole thing is not about energy saving at all, but is an attempt to demonstrate that lighting is nonsense – something we can do without. And that is indeed hypocritical, people.

Especially in 2015, the UNESCO International Year of Light …

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Decision processes

by Joachim Ritter

I am often asked how we decide on the Keynote Speakers for PLDC. Before I answer this question in detail, I would need to know how familiar you are with the Big Bang Theory. I mean the real one on television, not the ancient one about 13,000,000,000 years ago.

We really had a huge discussion and a hard time to decide between Sheldon Cooper, Penny or Prof. Proton. Guess, who I voted for? But it did not work out. In the end there really was no nerd who knows enough about lighting research or lighting design.

In fact, that seems to be our problem. We have so much knowledge to learn within the lighting design field, but really no nerds…except of Shuji Nakamura, Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano…

Anyway, let’s say the Big Bang family to me is like the lighting design community. We have a few nerds and strong characters, sometimes their behaviour is odd, or even embarrassing, but most of the time they are good fun and are always good for never-ending stories about life, survival, and surprising relationships.

But there is another difference worth mentioning. In the Big Bang Theory they don’t have bad guys. Or at least you can’t identify them because they are still somehow charming. As I said, that is the difference to the lighting design world. But let’s not go deeper into this.

Let me return to the decision about the Keynotes. We always aim to secure Keynotes who are able to give some inspiration to the lighting design community, especially on issues regarding developments in the lighting design market and relating to the profession.

Being in Italy and having Light and Culture as one of our main focuses, we initially looked for persons who can eleaborate on this idea, and we are delighted to have already gained Ilaria Abbondandolo, Cultural Secretary of the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio (International Centre for Architectural Studies ‘Andrea Palladio’).
Klaus Obermaier’s work points towards the future of media art. From our experience, this is an experimental field but will have increasingly more impact on architecture and lighting design in the years to come.

Who else will be there? We still have a few surprises up our sleeve. Some things take time, but they’re worth it.

By the way: When you google “The big bang theory” guess what you get…

the-big-bang-05-the-big-bang-theory-s-tribute-to-carol-ann-susi-was-almost-very-different

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I am a professional lighting designer!

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.

DSC_1869I 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.

DSC_1878To improve my network of contacts I signed up for a three-day seminar organised by a leading manufacturer, and received a certificate for attending.

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 …

 

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Modern networks works – modern lighting as well

by Joachim Ritter

Developments in the field of LED technology have apparently indeed caused something of a stir within society. People can now use this technology in their own surroundings. But still the LED technology seems to be like a revolution.

Some time ago an old friend contacted me and asked me to help him out. We have known each other since our school days. That was admittedly 27 years ago, although the last time I saw him was at a reunion two years back. He remembered that at the time I told him that my work had something to do with lighting. He is an aquarium enthusiast, that is to say someone who enjoys observing fish behind glass – preferably when they are in large glass tanks. There’s nothing wrong in that. On the contrary, I tend to find it quite calming myself.

Anyway, he came to me and asked me if I could help him “acquire” a replacement lamp for his aquarium. He presumed I had good connections, and since we have known each other a few years, and were quite close as kids, thought I wouldn’t mind coming to the rescue, so to speak. “Sure,” I said. “I know who makes lamps…”. I didn’t get a chance to say much more, because he was already describing exactly what he needed. He talked about Kelvin and that this was an indication of how bright the lamp was. The higher the Kelvin, the brighter the light, but not blue, thank you very much. And I was to make sure there was no ballast or starter in the LED lamp. But it had to be an LED lamp because they consumed less electricity.

It was pretty clear that he had got a few things muddled up, but he certainly wasn’t willing to admit it. As a salesman he did not want to betray any weak points. To be on the safe side he had brought along the lamp that needed replacing. “But that’s an LED lamp,” I blurted out. „How come it’s not working. They are supposed to last for 30,000 hours”. That would have meant around ten years. According to my friend, he had only had the lamp for about three and a half years.

“Really?” he remarked. “At any rate, I want it to look like natural light”.

I was about to say something and then realised that if I embarked on further discussions it would have caused tension between us. So I simply replied: “Leave it to me. I’ll let you know”.

Three days later I took two new LED lamps over to his house. He was thrilled. How kind it was of me and that it is really unusual for someone to go out of their way to help old friends. “No problem,” I said “My pleasure”. “What do I owe you?” he asked. “38 euros,” I replied.  “Post and packing, eh?!” he smiled, and reached for his wallet…

My friend was very grateful, paid the money and reminded me that I could always count on him if I needed help. In the following months many people told me how well my old friend spoke of me and a number of my friends went out of their way to tell me I only had to give them a wink if I needed anything. I received numerous invitations to parties and my network of friends grew unremittingly. On Facebook and Twitter people waxed lyrical about my heroic deeds, claiming that people of my calibre are few and far between.

On Facebook someone even suggested I should be awarded honorary citizenship by my hometown.

Life suddenly became so pleasant and easy. I must admit it did become hard to find free days when I could meet friends and relations or attend fundraising dinners, and I survived practically exclusively on the ample buffets available. I also began to notice that the ladies had a different look in their eye when they looked my way.

Gala Dinner

A few months later I met a true friend of mine. He drove over to visit me and we spent some time together. We avoid using Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch, preferring the phone or direct contact. I told him what I had experienced over the last months and he listened patiently. When I had finished he asked: “Tell me, where did you get those lamps from that brought you so much fame and recognition?

“The lamps? Oh, I went to a pet shop just round the corner from here and bought the lamps literally off the shelf. They had loads of them, especially for saltwater aquariums”.

What is the moral of this tale? A true friend is one who can listen and does not rely on social networks.

And finding lighting solutions is sometimes easier that it seems.

To be continiued.

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You won’t go blind from reading in low light

Darkness does not affect your anatomy.

by Joachim Ritter

Science can make mistakes too. The time has come to bury a myth that many of us have carried with us since our childhood. Parents are always warning their children not to read in the dark for fear of damaging their eyes. This argument no longer holds water.

Today we know that reading in low light does absolutely no harm to our eyes and does not impact the anatomy of the eye in any way. It can be strenuous, of course, and cause eye fatigue. And those of us who insisted on reading under the bed covers, certainly noticed a difference in alertness the following day – although more because we were engrossed in a book we couldn’t put down and were therefore suffering from lack of sleep.

And low light also does not provoke the need to start wearing glasses. That would be a bit too simple, because conversely it would also mean it would be possible to improve your eyesight by exposing yourself to ultra-bright light.

And there is further evidence to back this “discovery” up. The probably most well known owl in the lighting industry, who we know from iGuzzini’s advertising campaigns back in the nineties, would doubtless be blind by now for having worn sunglasses for so long…
iguzzini owl

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We are 2014 Nobel Prize Winners

by Joachim Ritter

That’s the way it goes nowadays: one person can represent a whole community. When German Bishop Josef Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, there was a general feeling among the German people that they had in part assumed papal responsibility and were, indeed, honoured to do so. “We are the Pope” it said in German newspapers. It was similar with Cardinal Karol Wojtyła from Kraków. As Pope John Paul II, he could be more than sure he had the Polish people behind him. Such developments always have an undeniable socio-political component and significance.

PLDCBlog kl

Meijo University Prof Isamu Akasaki, 85, Nagoya University Prof Hiroshi Amano, 54, and Prof Shuji Nakamura, 60, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, US

And now we are the 2014 Nobel Prize Winners in Physics – we being all those members of the lighting community who are currently benefiting from the development of the blue LED, which is responsible for instigating the dramatic changes the lighting industry is undergoing. However upset, or even enraged, some of us were when the incandescent lamp was finally pushed aside as an example of bygone inefficiency, the Nobel Prize announcement now fills us with honour and pride, given the extent to which the LED has changed our working world in the last 15 years, and indeed continues to do so on a dramatic scale.

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 has been awarded jointly to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura “for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes, which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources”. This was announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Tuesday, 7. October in Stockholm. The Nobel Committee described the Japanese physicists’ work as “revolutionary” research towards the invention of “new, energy-efficient and environment-friendly light sources”, and awarded them prize money of approximately 880,000 euros (eight million Swedish crowns).

Nobelpreis / LED / Physik 2014

Johan Jarnestad/ The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Whether in the form of torches, smartphone displays, or rear lights or braking lights for cars: LEDs have become practically irreplaceable. Light-emitting diodes exist in red, amber, green, white and blue. For a long time, the search for a diode that would emit blue light was comparable to the quest for the Holy Grail.

Thanks to the research carried out by the three Japanese scientists, blue lasers and blue LEDs are now an integral part of modern-day technology. Since one quarter of the electricity consumed worldwide is for lighting, LED light sources are making a substantial contribution towards protecting natural resources, states the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

In time for the upcoming International Year of Light 2015, an initiative of a large consortium of scientific bodies together with UNESCO, this recognition couldn’t have come at a better time. The decision will give the lighting world an additional push, and a good start for the year to come. And thank goodness it was the invention of the blue LED that was awarded the Nobel Prize and not of the compact fluorescent lamp, which also claims to use less energy than the incandescent lamp and was long claimed to be the solution for saving the polar ice caps and alpine ski slopes. At least the Nobel Committee did not allow themselves to be dazzled by marketing strategists like many a politician did. And even if the LED is not sufficient to save the polar ice caps and mountain glaciers, we can all express our delight at this announcement and express our gratification by proudly announcing: we are the 2014 Nobel Prize Winners in Physics.

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