Alex Shaw, design director

How’s business?
For some time now the Middle East has been in desperate need of international lighting consultants with locally based teams; sensitive to both the business dynamics as well as cultural nuances that work in the region entails. With this context in mind, it’s no surprise that demand for our work has been on the increase – irrespective of what is generally a negative market sentiment. We do have a good pipeline of work being generated from architectural consultants based in Spain and England but designing on behalf of Middle East projects.

How and where can lighting be used to greatest effect?
There’s no easy – or even short – answer to this question. It depends upon a multitude of factor such as the use, ambience, occupants, et cetera, or even more practical issues such as electrical load, construction feasibility, budget and/or delivery lead time constraints. The important thing is for the lighting designer to be brought on as early as possible – ideally after the client has approved the architect’s conceptual work – as well as sharing as much information as possible about the space to be lit so as to balance these requirements. Another key factor is for the clients to be as engaged as possible, given that lighting has the ability to express, if not enhance, their architecture in the best possible manner while also differentiating their projects from those around them.

Are emerging concepts and technology, such as the Internet of Things or energy management considerations, having an impact on lighting design?
The IoT will completely change the lighting industry, from the simple fact that light fittings will not only be used for lighting, and light itself will not only be used for seeing, but also to carry information. The opportunities this opens up to the design community are endless, yet the mindset change required won’t be easy. Considering this trend has in practical terms only emerged out of North America and Western Europe over the past three years, the Middle East is therefore still unprepared for IoT. We just need to see where IoT takes us in the next five years.