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!

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.

comfort, controls, 照明, lighting, science, stars of lighting design, tomorrowlight, visual, wellbeing

Fagerhult Lighting Academy at Intersect by Lexus

DUBAI. Fagerhult in association with APID has held an event at the city’s trendiest places, Intersect by Lexus. This unique event brought together architects, interior designers and lighting industry professionals to discuss the phenomena of light. Conversation was kindled by Henrik Clausen, the Director of Fagerhult Lighting Academy. Henrik spoke of the human aspect of light. “Light makes us recognise each other as living beings,” Clausen said. His talk called for deeper understanding of the effect of light in any environment on personal wellbeing. This visionary approach supported by the academic research in Denmark results in adoption of new standards by manufacturing and consulting community and novel methods of controlling light.

controls, 照明, Data, IoT, lighting, urban

Street Lighting as a Network



THE VERY IDEA OF A SMART CITY is amassing data from an urban multifaceted tissue and use it for the benefit of a community. Smart City is no longer a concept, it is a reality realised to varying degrees across the planet. A town on the foot of the Ural mountains might not have advanced building management systems, although its citizens would fully enjoy state of the art transportation app. Penetration of smart technologies interaction between a city dweller and a city manager has different depth and it is happening.

Advancement of telecommunication, internet and computing technologies and its symbiosis with manufacturing, services, logistics is driven in a greatest degree by a private sector. Vendors and providers better each other in giving consumer the most lucrative piece of tech, and communities get filled in with devices, solutions, apps and things that organise their lives, move them around and protect them.

There is another stream that moves in the opposite direction to this wave of technology in cities, a wave that has its aim to govern and unify the wild dance of private tech. There is no doubt, when these two streams meet, a pool of properly governed city technology shall emerge.

One of the steps of this sort is a British Standards company, BSI Group, report published in 2015 City Data Survey Report has defined main data sets, which over thirty cities that took part in the survey, found critical for functioning of a smart city.

There are fourteen data sets, of which the most important are social, infrastructure and energy. We shall focus on energy on this page, however today’s technology wipes off categorisation in managing a city, and energy alone appears to be too short sighted, as its impact on social and infrastructure or, say, geospatial development, is too significant.

Chart for Networked Lighting

Traditionally one of the largest contributors to a city energy spend is a street lighting. Number of lamps and their furniture is measured in thousands even in a small size community. You have your roads, your streets, your alleys and car parks. For decades architects and urban planners vocalised how good street lighting affects citizens’ wellbeing and feeling for security, and when light emitting diodes emerged, engineers have thought up of a new function for a city lighting. If each diode is a semiconductor then data transmission is possible. An aha moment that many a computer geeks experienced in early 80s: there are two computers and a modem. Machines can talk to each other!

There it started back in the second decade of the second millennium. Lighting seized being solely lighting anymore, it became a medium. Industry was disrupted, and all conversations today are about connectivity. Industry fairs look more like IT symposiums. Yet what is it for a city in connecting lights?

When a city manager steps out on the road to seek for an answer to this question, he or she would find not even a crossroad, but a noodle multilevel interchange of choices, standards, protocols and even consequences.

These are just a handful of services connected lighting can offer:

  1. Control and operational monitoring. Switching lights on and off, or conditional dimming (based on the time of day, natural illuminance or presence of dwellers) are prime functions in this category, but there is also a possibility to monitor power usage in real time and tracking status of the fixture.
  2. Asset management including almost all operating characteristics. Simply put, maintenance crew would be informed of the symptoms of potential failure before the luminaire fails.
  3. Metering. Apparently this feature is the least popular amongst some authorities. With all benefits of real time metering of energy use, there are still nay-sayers who doubt that this measurement is accurate. Advocates of the approach site that a luminaire that switches on when its built-in sensor detects daylight has reached a threshold and turns on the light source, consumes much less energy than the luminaire that is programmed to switch on at seven pm sharp. Communities that use LED lighting may also benefit from the special tariffs calculated for this type of light source as opposed to a conventional one.
  4. Security. Gunshot detection and triangulation. Acoustic sensors carried by the luminaire shall detect and signal law enforcement professionals exact location of an accident. Another basic feature is CCTV monitoring. There are fixtures already that incorporate a sleek camera that no longer spoils aesthetics of a fixture. Chemical and radiation detection is possible too.
  5. Footfall and traffic detection, a feature that urban management shall find useful, as well as retailers and property developers. One of the ways is to count…phones connected to a wireless network, although this data might not be fully accurate. We all know people who carry two phones on them.

Examples of connected lighting already exist. Majority are in the US (San Diego, Jacksonville and others). Glasgow boasts one of the most advanced systems in Europe. The city beats contenders by the fact that data from the networked lights are transmitted to their central operations centre.

When was the last time you had to plug in a cable to your laptop to go online? True, WiFi is everywhere. Although a city network goes beyond this. Market flourishes with choices: LoRa, Sigfox, LiFi and the fifth generation of mobile networks to name the few.

LiFi runs on light waves as opposed to radio waves used by WiFi and this makes the speed of data transmission incredibly fast. LED’s can be used as transmitters. LiFi has a lot of opponents as well as proponents and technology is developing very fast so that the results may be expected very soon.

5G is on the rise and telecoms are wiring their gears to spread the network in full steam.

LoRa today is considered one of the most secure, reliable and accessible formats for connecting Things into Internet. LoRa stands for Low Power Wide Area Network; it works on different frequencies of the free radio spectrum, which helps penetrate even in the underground locations.

PoE or Power over Ethernet is being explored by CISCO-Philips alliance. The European lighting leader has brought the way of energising and simultaneously controlling its lighting installation indoor. Ethernet today is capable of carrying 60W of power, which is enough for an office or a school yet still not there for an outdoor application.

Research and debates are underway which of this format prevails and communities should be included in the discussion: they will be the ones living with the chosen format of data and power transmission.

The point several degrees more important than the transmission is data. As with all on the internet: who shall own it? When you had your power grid, there was no options: energy authority would install, maintain and manage the assets. Today it is not so straight forward. What is of more value? Tangible furniture or data it gathers? The former depreciates over time, the latter gains value. The risk is that underfunded communities might agree to offers from providers and vendors to trade their citizens data in exchange of equipment. It takes a firm decision to ensure the data remains in the ownership of citizens and taxpayers, like it is done in Glasgow or Copenhagen.

This is not a search for the next villain, but an attempt to find possible ways and standards to govern, manage and utilise the gathered information. Judging by the functions street lighting can perform in a connected city, it is a lot of data. Public, as the main stakeholder, if not confident in the way data is operated, will unlikely approve civic initiatives and engage. Standardisation of data, communication technology and protocols may be able to facilitate the deployment and adoption of a smart city ideas.

If we get back to our multi talented street lighting concept: information, captured by sensors, flows into the central operation, but the media and formats are highly heterogeneous. There will be a need for this information to be normalised, occasionally translated, classified, stored, and eventually destroyed. Today vendors propose their own solutions to manage their piece of infrastructure. GE offers a platform it calls LightGrid, InteliLight has its own street light control software, Philips Lighting adds CityTouch, Acquity accompanies their lighting with various packages of their app called Roam.

I am only talking about lighting. Water will have their own, fire control will certainly use a software native to their equipment. All this is reminiscent of a boom of light planning applications in early 2000, when each manufacture developed their own stuff, and engineers and consultants would have to learn the intricacies of each package. Then Dialux and Relux came along and got everyone from misery. Thinking more widely: AutoCAD has become an ubiquitous standard for engineering community, and its evolution of Revvit that permitted an HVAC guy and a lighting guy work together in one environment independently from each other. “It is still not easy, says Murray Reynolds, CAD Manager of JWL, a large Australian contractor firm in Dubai, and it feels like you have just changed from a Cessna cockpit to Airbus 380.” Although the result is one engineering grid incorporating all vital systems. Similar approach from silos to homogeneous management of data is the future. Presently international standardisation bodies (CEN, CENEC, ETSI, ISO, IEC) are working on standards of interoperability, machine to machine communication, data security and protocols and even trying to unify terminology.

This foundation shall give confidence to city managers in the technical specification, processes and overall strategy of smart city services and equipment. As a consequence, standardised approach to processing and storing the data, shall become the very benefit for a community, that smart city is designed to achieve.