architecture, urban, economics

Reading Architecture

I had great honor and enjoyment of taking part in @bitesofarchitcture reading of “Cultural Conservation and Urban Appropriation” by Architect Mona El Mousfi. The subject of their discussion was Sharjah Art Foundation new spaces in the Heritage Area. Look forward to the new meet ups.


Will we touch the light at last?

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 8.57.22 PM

… and get a response back? Possibly. Recent patents granted to Apple in 2017 and research by the leading LED chip manufacturers are pointing in this direction. Patently Apple reports the use a micro LED in an active matrix display to emit and sense light. “Display panels, systems, and methods of operation are described in which LEDs may be used for both emission and sensing,” blogs Jack Purcher. At the same time this technology is yet to settle: it is to bring together three streams into one delta: that of microLED chips suppliers (Nichia, Osram), display producers and technology transfer and assembly.

Okay, we may be dreaming, but imagine: a light emitting surface that lights up the space, displays an app interface, verifies the user identity and adjusts its settings, brings up custom news and content.

Image courtesy: Patently Apple blog.

AI, Time Management

Pen. Paper and AI


Reply of Zaporozhian Cossaks, Ivan Repin, 1891

Calling yourself a pen-and-paper person and that this is the best way for you to organize yourself? Here is a test: quickly remember your Mom’s mobile and when you have last missed to call her which you had promised a week a so ago.

What does failing the test means? You have not connected to one of the most important persons in your life, you have missed an important commitment because you have probably been sidetracked but something more urgent and you could not remember the ten digit number because your phone does it for you, provided you have it on you. [Nervous tap on the pocket].

Now let’s look at it from the point of view of Stephen R. Covey’s fourth generation time management perspective. Quick overview first:

The First Generation and the agricultural and feudal epoch. Just make notes and cross them off. Done.

The second Gen. Calendars and planners, because you needed to remember when the steamboat would depart your port.

The third Generation. This is no so long ago: we just wanted to start planning our priorities (too many notes and not enough space in the calendars). Famous four quadrants: urgent, important and and not really.

Finally the fourth Generation combines all of the above and adds principles. They help organically organize our professional and personal lives into the second quadrant. Covey highlights these criteria and let us see which of the tools today have all or at least some of those features.

a) Coherence. Your toolkit is built with the consideration to your mission, your roles (current, short and long terms), your goals, your wants and disciplines. Notpads are great as it is a blank canvas, but they tend to finish with time and having to check your calendar for the next year against your mission statement you had written two years ago may become a hassle. I really envy persistence of Bullet Journal and Ryder Carroll’s fans. Simple digital formats are easier for references, i.e. Apple Notes or Google Keep, but they have more traditional linear notebook design. Recent upgrades allow for cross-apps interaction, but the online based apps still win.

b) Balance. Your professional and personal lives are in equilibrium. This is the source of the true effectiveness. Using an app like Trello, allows you to consider the balance factor. For some businesses security is an issue and probably you won’t want to keep your private notes, tasks and events close to where they may be visible by co-workers. I would have given its due to Quip, but not only it works better for work, it also does need Salesforce license to be efficient. Flows (Microsoft Flow, IFTTT, etc.) may be pushing your records to, say, your personal calendar on Google or Apple.

c) Focused on what is important and not urgent, or Quadrant Two. Weekly planning as opposed to daily planning, the latter is done in the context of your week. As Covey puts it “prioritize your schedule, not schedule priorities.” Here is the kanban idea of Trello wins again, or you can try and download Evernote’s template.

d) People. Schedules are subordinates to people, and your toolkit has to facilitate the implementation and not create inner guilt for not crossing the checkbox on time. Most of today’s tools allow for collaboration and integration of instant messaging services. Asana will probably be one of the best here.

e) Time. This is again about your tool being your servant. Allow for spontaneity, tailor it to your style and daily rhythms. Google Calendar app employs a lot of AI to aide you schedule your weeks and months based on the goals. Outlook, which is used by majority of nine-to-fivers is yet to be as convenient.

f) Portability. This is less about the form: you may be the one who likes to carry an A3 pad or Apple iPad Pro even to the dinner table. This is about accessibility. Most of the apps are able to work in online and off-line modes. Carrying around a vintage notepad is an option if you like accessories and arrange them in a nice order for your next instagram shot.

There is no one solution. Speak to your colleagues, friends, and you will understand that today all of us are going through the same trial and error motions: legacy methods have become too narrow, new productivity tools are too often insufficient for all one needs. The answer to this challenge is in the technology which is yet to come. A blank canvas, a reflection of one’s personality, learning vocabulary and understanding principles, able to produce a printed copy of one’s last year’s notes and diaries (paper and style to choose from!). I hope then, when booking my next meeting I would get a subtle alert that at the same time I have promised to call my mother.

照明, lighting

Photon Manifesto

AS I HANG UP A PHONE TO MY FRIEND, I felt somewhat confused. He, one of the region’s most prominent experts in museum and theatrical lighting, had asked me if I had any plans attending Light Middle East. I had none till his question got out of the handset to my ear. It stroke me to make this finding about myself. I have uttered a joke of the sort of me belonging to IT crowd and having left the lighting mob.

Indeed my recent years I have spent moving further and further away from light. Since arrival to the Middle East my passion to the shape and form of light have been slowly giving pragmatic way to appending the right price tag to a fitting. The latter word, a taboo before, made itself comfortable in my vocabulaire quotidien. I am keeping a guard against giving up completely and saying a ‘unit.’ Eventually fitting became records: I have started my business process and customer relations management software journey.

The name ‘Pleiad’ that mesmerized me so much a decade ago was becoming a fifteen characters code. I’ve now all chances remembering them by heart, as I used to remember product codes.

Well, should I be concerned or even upset? I chose to be ambiguous about it as the light itself.


The first photons hit me in the summer of 2000 when a cousin of mine had introduced me to Paolo Rizzatto’s Costanza. My cousin was an art director of a contemporary Moscow theater and turned his exquisite taste to objects and decor into successful entrepreneurship. I remember I had a fever, and then suddenly an obvious and mundane metaphysical definition donned on the most numerous forms. They transformed and bent and hid light. Surfaces and curvatures, objects and cavities dressed up with the plethora of buttons and jewelry of luminaires.  The world shined at me. I have stuffed my pockets with light and travelled back to my hometown and tried to share it with people I knew and strangers. Some saw glitter in my eyes, some – that of potential income.

Light has shown me the way  into architecture as totally new humanitarian discipline.  Eventually titans, who shaped my town and cities around it, and I spoke for hours discussing  what was the light for them. They all agreed that light, as ephemeral as it had been, was as tangible as concrete or steel or wood.

My other side of my life was made complete due to the light. My wife, Vasilina Valo, shared the passion and together we have started up a blog, firstly taking visual notes with Nokia phones and posting them on the Blogger platform. Our friend from Paris had sketched a logo and Light Intelligence got its face. You don’t see it on the WordPress version for a reason and let us keep it this way for the time being. Everywhere we travelled we seemed to be stumbling upon an installation, natural phenomenon, or simply play of imagination we would share on the blog.

Then came the insights of Mario Nanni’s eight rules of light. The last one became my guiding principle: an undescribed emotion, or l’emozione del nulla in Italian.


I will also cite the words of another master whose work produced the deepest impression on me: Motoko Ishii. She wrote:

“Light is vision

Light is understanding

Light is insight

Light is enterprise

Light is reflection

Light is originality, joy and sharing

Light is pleasure, humanity

Light is wholeness

Lite is life”

Motoko ishii Tokyo Tower

One more person that helped that lighting flame kindle was a colleague of mine, Henrik Clausen. He would later in our professional career teach me how to tell a human from a replicant.

*  *  *

Chilly December wave has broken around my feet. Then I have made a decision to move to a new country and into a new role. That was like entering into the middle of the twelve lane highway amidst thousands of blinking aircraft lights. Habitual CRI, Lm/W and other acronyms have been dispersed by the new professional jargon as JIH, BOQ or BOH. These contractions had nothing to do with light but defined the “rock bottom” price. My overseas calls’ subjects have also changed to those of getting things done faster with optimal spend of resources as opposed to be done more creatively and with the spark of engineering genius. Construction site with hundreds and often thousands of workers has become my meeting room, helmet on.

Oh no, this is not a complaint by all means. I would never like not to have this experience. As transformative as light, my activities have been reshaped and with abundance of things to do, to have control on, to capture and measure, there emerged necessity to put all these into a structure, a framework, a system.

Have you ever thought about the backend of light? Correct, schematics, showing the path from the beginning — the energy source — to the end: the light point. What is it if not a workflow and a process? It became my priority to design a schema for my team to keep afloat. Before I know it, I was making my first steps in developing another sort of architecture. That of a CRM. Mega projects spreading across the Middle East are such entangled knots of organizations, people, decisions and more, that I needed to help our sales team to navigate, not drown and reach the shore of a contract.

My tasks have switched. So have the tools. Powerful light planning software and tricky calculation methods have been changed to the Theory of Constrains, Lean and Six Sigma inventory, and I have found myself in front of my own colleagues analyzing how they do things asking questions, getting under their skin and getting them out of their comfortable blankets. Some light solution was needed, something that they could take with them to a construction site, to the plane from Oman to Bahrain, to the board meeting in Europe. My team had made their choice on the Salesforce CRM. It was safe, adaptable and extremely portable. Funny that exactly like in the lighting trade, we needed our architecture to be bespoke. Six months into the implementation project, we have been delivering the system. All that time my supplier was not a manufacturer, but a consultant. Both their name, and the name of the company I work for, is borrowed from the location where business was originated. It probably brings luck. My company is from Sweden; theirs — from Ireland.

Our first roll out was a success, and soon I had received an invitation to become part of the Salesforce implementation project in Melbourne, Australia. One of APAC region largest lighting manufacturer and the member of the Group I work for, had set their challenge high: they wanted their CRM and ERP to be integrated and function in accord.

I have had the privilege to be working with the greatest lighting enthusiasts across three continents, and the more I work with them, the more I am trying to find the answer: what keeps these people in lighting? Why are they so passionate about designing a luminaire, serving their customer, delivering a skyscraper full of complex lighting controls system. I am yet to understand this, but I know one thing for certain: they are bound not by a P’n’L, and lucrative perks, nor they are made to be in lighting by need. The answer may be in that proud feeling that is left after a project is completed. People will use it. People with work with it, under it. This will make them feel better, feel sharper, get more knowledge, heal faster, will make their lives brighter.

It all starting to make sense to me. Particle or wave. Effect is one regardless of who watches: the light is on!

art, 照明, effects, science

Twilight Gazing


It happened that I have received a call this late afternoon, and unconsciously — as we all do — went out on the balcony carrying a cup of tea in one hand, my phone pressed to my ear by a shoulder. Suddenly I focused not on the conversation but on a colours of setting sun. I had to excuse myself and pretended something urgent had happened and promised to call back. I live in this building for several years now, and I have just realised that none of the sunsets I have been witnessing repeated themselves.

The Sun, in the meanwhile, was heading West and glass glazing was bidding a farewell to it with hues of orange, pink, lilac and blue, and aquamarine. Is there enough words in any vocabulary to label at least a million hues? Of course, not.

When original awe has gone, and I was able to function like a normal human being, I had returned the call, and inside the living room to my book. I have flipped the page to find an essay of Georgia Frances King, a Melbourne (Australia) borne, Brooklyn based editor for Kinfolk magazine. Her essay was on light. I dug a bit deeper in her writing, and found a piece “The Meaning of Light.” That inquisitive and so softly written feature led me to a discovery of Stephen Auger. Stephen is and artist and color theorist from Santa Fe, New Mexico. He holds as well degree in the Neurophysiology of Color Perception.

I won’t even dare to describe the artist’s technique, instead I will let critics do this. Here is what Diane Armitage says: “Auger’s paintings are shimmering veils of paint combined with impossibly tiny crystal spheres that range from 40 to 100 microns in diameter. The result is that each painting must be read not only in terms of its color and radiant light, by also by its surface topography. Working with the crystals embedded in oil-based pigments, Auger manipulates his canvases in such a way that the paint’s viscous properties allow for flowing, pooling, and a complex layering of materials that mimic sedimentation. And so his work is as much about topography and the forces of erosion as it is about the fugitive quality of light. No two angles of viewing a painting by Auger will produce the same chromatic effects, the same reflectivity.”

In his work, The Twilight Array, the artist collaborates with experts in neuroscience and special illumination to use square paintings made of particles emitting, reflecting and radiating a very special wavelength of light perceivable only at very low light levels. Scientists call this a mesopic vision. Artist’s idea is that a viewer shall experience the sensation of a twilight not as a fleeting but continuous sensation.

Have you ever bought yourself wishing that feeling never ended?

Source of a photo: artist’s website.

lighting, retail lighting, urban

My shopping in the US

Men and shopping. I mean, literary, male shopping. Practical, coldblooded, calculated, ending up with last minute presents from a duty free. I had a firm plan fixed for my trip earlier this month; a plan as to what and where. When was left for a chance. The chance never come swallowed by an avalanche of this planet’s acclaimed largest tech convention.

Shrapnel pieces of time I have actually wandered inside a retail outlet end up on this page. Since this blog is not about fashion, neither it is a blog about hobbies, you will see mostly ceilings and some lights.

SHINOLA, SAN-FRANCISCO, CA. Tucked in a cosy street by the Transamerica pyramid, a Detroit life-style icon features plain wooden shelving and tin ceiling. Unfortunately I was not able to find out who the architect of the store was. Shinola’s New York store has been done by a NY practice Rockwell. They are famous for their stage sets. Do track mounted spotlights remind you of a stage too?

WARBY PARKER, SAN-FRANCISCO, CA. I found myself twice on the Hayes street, and hence claimed it mine. Really, if there would be a better location for an indy store, then it would be Hayes street. Eye ware maker, Warby Parker, store renders itself as if a web page suddenly comes alive. Light, white on blue murals (by an SF duo Lab Partners), Roll and Hill lighting fixtures inside and exceptionally good sales associates.

HOGWASH, SAN-FRANCISCO, CA. I remember I was meant to go somewhere else that evening, but 30 draft beer taps… While my companions enjoyed their sausages and sauerkraut at this restaurant near Union Square, I took photos and looked at the details. And boy, someone loved the details! Waffle patterns repeats on the globes too! Shoutout to the makers from Geremia Design.


DRY GOODS SHOP, THOMASVILLE, GA. American craftsmanship is on the rise. I loved this bespoke set of luminaries in a small shop featuring leather aprons, tool sets, wallets and bitter milk mixers.

… and now unpack and try to readjust to Gulf Standard Time.