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CREATING LIGHT FOR SPECIAL APPLICATIONS
Editorial

 

Effective lighting is borne of an understanding of the aesthetic and technical aspects of design and how these relate to the way in which the environment is perceived. The lighting can be functional or decorative or both functional and decorative. In many installations the primary goal is to incorporate ambient illumination into the architecture through the use of indirect sources. Others add decorative fixtures to create variety and impact. Regent Lighting Solutions offers all these, but Lighting in Design spoke to Randal Wahl about what are termed ‘specials’
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Mthatha Airport : From concept to completion Regent
works with clients to create the ideal light fitting.
 
The request for a special fixture is usually, according to Wahl, from an architect or lighting designer and frequently involves a design element or piece of art that will mark a structure as different i.e., the architect may design a pendant that is more decorative than functional for a corporate office or building.

Another time, the architect and his or her client may want to light the curve of a bridge or supply special lighting to emphasise certain key design elements of a commercial building.

 

Whatever the requirement, the key to a successful partnership – as Wahl says repeatedly – is collaboration; from the first sketch to the final installation when the lights are switched on. The process seems simple enough: the architect or lighting designer provides a rough sketch, often hand drawn, of the envisaged fitting, sometimes with an example of something similar; in-house designers interpret the sketch and send it for approval; the architect makes changes if required and the designer then creates a 3D rendering of the product, including how it will work and how it will finally be mounted to the planned surface in situ.

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Once this is approved, a mock-up is made to see what the difficulties could be and to validate the design. If necessary, further mock-ups are made until the architect and his or her client are happy with the outcome. In reality, however, the procedure has to be managed minutely. A special fitting defines its creators and must look good for years to come. Apart from working with the client to establish what is possible in terms of design and manufacture, the manufacturer has to consider photometrics, mounting options, the environment in which the fitting will be fixed, structural concerns, wind loading for external fittings, ease of servicing and maintenance. Wahl says, “We drive people mad finding out, for example, how the pendant will be fixed before we make the light fitting. It is critical for us since the manner in which the fixture is mounted can make a big difference to the overall aesthetics of the product. In some circumstances we need to make bespoke brackets or create a frame to allow for variances that have occurred on site. If the fixture is for a public environment and is accessible on the ground, vandal resistance elements will influence the design of the product. We work closely with electrical contractors and value any feedback that will make installation on site as easy and effective as possible. When we manufacture interior fittings, we also work with ceiling contractors or shopfitters to provide in-factory solutions to reduce the amount of on-site work, which can compromise the overall lighting effect if not accurate.

Wahl explains that the transition to LEDs has been radical and that by offering design solutions that clients require, the company remains viable. In addition, and as importantly, it is interesting, creative work. “We have invested heavily in design software and for our in-house designers it is stimulating to work on innovative and varied projects and products. It is a journey and the flexibility we offer allows us to learn from our clients and vice versa. By offering solutions we are able to develop long term relationships in our industry. The challenges associated are outweighed by the collaborative learnings.

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