Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lighting Design

In Indonesia, “Lighting Design” has been commonly considered as another profession related to electrical (M/E) engineering, and sadly, some do not understand why would such profession even exist? Once, we were working on the design team for a big hospital project when the principal said,” leave the lightings to the M/E engineers, they should know what to do”. At that time we thought, perhaps lighting have nothing to do with architecture.

Almost 80% of the information received by human brain is captured through the eyes as human sight sense. Thus, the basic concept of such profession may said to be “the most beautiful things cannot be seen without light.” This profession has been developing as the electronic starts to fulfill human needs for technology, from a simple light bulb to the discovery that turn human from daylight into 24-hour creature.

What does a lighting designer (LD) do?

Lighting designer is an engineer whose expertise lay on the art and technique of manipulating lighting. They are not merely an electrical engineer, but they may also an architect or designer graduates, with a taste of art that sometimes could not be understood by on-site technical applicator.

For instance, for a meeting room, LD would calculate the amount and power of illumination needed for meeting activity according to the standards, through a complex calculation and regular research for human eye. One may have various scenarios for meeting, such as discussion, writing, and presentation that need different lighting treatment. A simple miscalculation of illumination may result in weary eyes, exhaustion, and even nausea.

As for public facility such as sport fields and public roads and pedestrians, LD also put a thorough consideration on how to choose or create lighting fixtures, as they might also affect human safety issues. In a 4 season country like Germany, winter may also cause different way of designing lights since the sun only shines for less than 10 hours a day.

A contrary to a meeting room and standard public facility, entertainment/leisure facilities’ LD such as cafes, night clubs, or building facades, does not focus on fulfilling technical standards. A sense of art may dominate the way LD propose their designs, how they manipulate shadows and lights, the dark or lighter side of the room with a touch of colors to create interesting ambiance.

Lighting design technology has been improving rapidly during high-tech era, where the use of energy-saver illumination and lighting controller to manage multiple scenarios for a room, have reached a higher level and varieties. We may even turn the lights on/off from mobile phones. The challenge now for LD is to create, choose, and determine the right lighting or luminaries from variety brands of fixtures, with millions of shape of armatures in the world, to be set accordingly to human needs. Thus for LD, to know the minimum/maximum standards for a room may not be sufficient without the experience of selecting and combining those armatures with aesthetic consideration in real projects.

In collaboration with artists, an LD can develop their sense of art through installation. The art of space installation is also an interesting challenge, since lighting may assist the expression method or media for the artist. An installation object may emerge differently at night by the use of artificial lightings, and so does the well lit city during the night.

Initially, the LD profession was held under an illumination technique organization named CIE (Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage) in Europe and IES (Illuminating Engineering Society) in US, and they were dominated by electrical engineers. As the time went by, such LD organizations form a more specialized association, namely IALD and PLDA. Today, IALD and PLDA has been collaborating well so that its LD member would not necessarily register to both organization to have its acknowledgement. PLDA in Europe has developed more in world wide than IALD in US, as it has expanded to Asia.

As in Indonesia, such LD organization has founded in early 90’s by the name of Himpunan Ahli Teknik Iluminasi Indonesia (HTII). With its headquarter is in JDC (Jakarta Design Center), HTII has stood proudly side by side with other designer associations in Jakarta, which mark the next phase of lighting design world.

Pavilion 95, as one of the few consultant specializes in LD, has been putting an effort to register its experts to the standards of HTII and even ELDA (European Lighting Designer Association), to raise its competence in the lighting business. Thus, we feel obliged to remind the importance of having a well designed and calculated lighting for your room or facility, especially when lighting affects not merely aesthetic sense but also health and safety for human activity.

Agust Danang Ismoyo, ST.,MALD.

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