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”
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!