Martin Klaasen Director Klaasen Lighting Design
Ingmar Klaasen Director, Klaasen Lighting Design

What are the basic elements of better and smarter lighting?

The basic elements depend on one’s understanding of better and smarter. It means different things to different people in different circumstances.

‘Better’ to us relates to continuous learning from past projects and improve on our deliveries. This means after every project we do a debrief with team not only with those who actually were parts of the project team but also with everyone in our KLD team. These are super meaningful learning sessions where our project designers share their experiences and challenges that they faced in realizing the project they worked on.

‘Smarter’ to us relates to all those things that are actually not lighting, in other words the controls, the smart integration of sensors and data networks with lighting. Key here is to be smart from the start, our key driver. To meaningfully integrate smart elements into the lighting infra-structure one first need to determine the requirements or what we call the smart data brief. This can include smart lighting controls but also smart controls for other functions like air-conditioning or service functions for instance with the aim to integrate the smart elements into the buildings’ facilities management system. Understanding the compatibility of the smart vendor systems with the designed lighting infra-structure is crucial for
its success.

How do you connect sustainability with lighting design?

By definition a lighting design should be sustainable. It is the lighting designer’s professional responsibility to make sure that energy conservation and environmental protection is core to the lighting design at all times. Energy conservation is a combination of optimal lighting system efficiency and lighting controls related to space usage. Lighting – only when and where you need it. By further mastering the lighting performance in terms of its distribution in space, maximising useful light and minimising light spill, we contribute to our earth’s environmental protection. There is no planet B, so sustainable lighting design, including efforts towards the opportunity to recycle or reconfigure older or failing lighting systems, are essential components to sustainable lighting design. This is also where smart lighting design comes allowing cause and effect to be monitored and managed.

What are the psychological and biological effects of good indoor lighting?

Good lighting design takes care of both the psychological as well as the biological effects. The psychology of lighting is very much anchored in the sensory experience, how lighting is perceived and how it impacts one’s mood and feelings. Think of the effect of bright versus somber lighting or warm versus cool coloured light. Motivation, performance and our sense of well-being are all influenced by how lighting impacts on our visual environment and subsequently how we perceive the space and the psychological message it sends us.

The biology of lighting is very much invisible to us as it impacts our biological clock and bio-rhythms. Often referred to as circadian lighting, this lighting impacts on our sleep-wake cycles and has a strong well-being impact of our overall human body health. Proper circadian lighting design is more than just tunable white light, it requires assessment of exposure time, intensities and colour frequencies balanced with the health needs of the space occupants.

Public Interiors & Exteriors, Paragon Shopping Centre, Singapore

How do you conceive (or conceptualise) the lighting scheme (or plan) after you receive a project-details request?

Lighting design is a team effort that requires harmonized integration with architecture, interior design and many other disciplines such as electrical infra-structure design, signage and wayfinding, artworks and displays, landscaping and urban design regulations. So, a good lighting design starts by identifying the key stakeholders and parties that are involved in the design process. Lighting design does not exist by itself, it merges harmoniously with the space it is being designed for, providing the desired lighting effects for the people that use the space. Any lighting design concept therefore is built on this principle as the driver. This is mostly the visible part of the lighting design planning. The invisible part is related to providing sustainability mentioned earlier and most of all working within feasible and acceptable budgets to achieve the best value for money. After all we design for our client’s requirements and budgets.

Could you cite some examples where you have used specialised items (like bamboo chips, paper cutting, scrap metal pieces etc.) to enhance the effect of lighting?

We don’t see light, we see reflections. Light is only visible when it reflects of something, whether actual materials or dust/smoke particles. As such good lighting designers always make use of material properties and finishes to enhance the lighting effects in a space. Understanding how light reacts on materials and finishes is a critical part of a lighting designers toolkit. Every project has opportunities to use the materials to create that extra effect. In many of our projects we work closely with the interior designer/ architect when it comes to material and finishes choices. For instance the design and material selection of pendants or decorative elements on which a dedicated spot light. Generally the materials we recommend have great properties when it comes to reflecting light.

Do you feel that the certification norms often restrain creativity?

No, not really. While this may appear to be restrictive, we think it adds to the creative skills of the designer to work within the norms and standards. It is all about the interpretation of the norms and how to apply them. Understanding the aim of the norms and codes of practice and its relevance to a specific application are crucial as the norms are generally set up broadly and generically. It is therefore the lighting designers’ task to interpret these towards the project application by being as creative as possible.

Rustan Department Stores, Manila, Philippines

How do you help your clients to maintain the beauty for long after you complete a project?

It is the lighting designer’s implicit task to design for longevity. While budgets may at times be restrictive in designing long lasting installations, we generally have the skillset to assure that basic quality standards are implemented to assure that. Besides the quality of the lighting installation longevity is achieved in many other ways. First of all the lighting system has to be selected for its suitability, specifically in regards to the environmental conditions.  The location and protection of the light fixtures further plays an important role towards easy maintenance and minimal damaging impacts. Proven reliability and service ability of the supplying company is also crucial in assuring a long-term performance.

What’s your take on ergonomic lighting and safety aspects related to luminaires?

Ergonomics in lighting is all about lighting comfort. In terms of lighting design, it is about making sure the lighting levels are comfortable, the balance of brightness and contrasts are comfortable and avoiding uncomfortable glare and reflections. Making it easier on the eyes to avoid strain and fatigue. In terms of light fixtures, it is about the placing and the lighting performance to meet the above targets.

The safety aspects of lighting also relate to both lighting design and fixture design. Good lighting design facilitates easy way finding and safe execution of visual tasks. At the same time lighting fixtures should be safe electrically and physically. They should be touch-safe and operationally safe, but also installed in such way that they do not form any physical obstruction or danger to the general public. This may also have a direct bearing on legal aspects such as liabilities in case of accidents.

The inclusion of smart components within the lighting infra-structure today is a must to monitor and manage the ergonomics and safety or security of spaces.

Palace Hotel, Perth WA

What is your advice (in brief) to the new lighting project owners?

Key to the success of a project is to engage the lighting designer at the earliest possible stage of a project. It is never too early to engage a lighting designer. The reality is that lighting designers are generally engaged way too late in the process leaving little room for architectural or interior changes when suggested to improve the end result. What most project owners also do not realise is that – skilled lighting designers generally earn their fees back through the value for money and savings they achieve in the design and the ease of operation.

But most of all we need to realise that the world of lighting design is changing. Data gathering through the lighting infra-structure is becoming the number one concern of every project client, facilities manager and developer. As such understanding how to integrate smart IoT components into the lighting design is key. Before any lighting design is undertaken, project owners should be clear about the IoT data brief required – so it can be smoothly integrated in the overall architectural design. The Lighting Designer of Things (LDoT) is ideally placed to define, develop and implement this.

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