architectural lighting design

architectural lighting designSome professions are easier to explain than others. Take medicine, law, or architecture. Most people have a sense about what these professions entail and what the people who practice them do. But architectural lighting design is another matter. Neither is it on the publics radar, nor is it clearly understood.

Elizabeth Donoff, Architectural Lighting (July-August 2013)

Ever wondered what an architectural lighting design engineer’s typical Monday is like? Well here ya go:-


Time to start the day and clock on after a hair-raising bike ride across rush-hour London. Coffee is definitely required. As is a pastry.


Emails. Working nowadays is inexorably linked to emails. That in mind, I do not want to spend all day staring at my inbox, so the urgent questions and responses for this morning are fired off, and the rest can wait till later.


The Monday Morning Meeting. This big guy sets us up for the rest of the week so we go over every live project and proposal in brief, where everyone gets the opportunity to share what they have, and will be working on.


Meeting over. One hour keeps it neat and concise, but leaves sufficient time to cover all the bases, especially when each person has two to three projects that they’re working on at any given time. But I’ve got my first real task of the day: there’s a new proposal that needs some initial design work.


Design work isn’t about dipping into my head, and simply plucking out something original and fabulous. Leg work and iterations are required. Reference images and concepts are found, and then some rough sketches on good old paper are drawn.


Lunchtime. And when there’s such a good sushi joint just down the way, it would be rude not to. After eating: CAD time. Opening up pages from last week, and putting together the final configurations of a design, so that I can make accurate calculations and judge material quantities. Once drawn together into a package, I can send it out for a quotation.


There’s no rest for the wicked. It’s all about simultaneous productivity, so I’ll sit down with colleagues and have a brain storm in readiness for an upcoming pitch.


Now, back to work. What I was working on before the group discussion. Hope you’re keeping up. Using the CAD sheet lines and figures I’ll start building up a 3D form, to better visualise the idea, and start hashing out the technical details.


After sitting in front of a computer, or a board room, I fancy a change of scenery; after computerised 3D diagrams comes the test phase; I’m in prototype heaven. Today I’m creating an LED diffuser as proof of concept for an existing proposal. That involves cutting and sanding some acrylic panels to size, then routing and fitting LED strips.


Rendering. Like Photoshop, but here I’ll render some test visuals from the 3D model, adding lights, materials, textures, etc. That’s left to render. Lots of polygons involved, y’see.


While I waft about the office, looking for something to do while that renders, I cast my eye over some parts that arrived from a supplier – water-jet cut aluminium blanks – checking dimensions andquantities.


Check on the earlier test renders: make adjustments, and set for rendering into the night (because I’m not sitting around and waiting for it to do it’s thing.)


Head out. That’s enough hard graft and back breaking work for one day. Especially when I still have to cycle home…


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