Detective Note

Vol.068-Home and Lighting


Interviewer: Chia Xing

Chia Xing: Mr. Mende, how did you feel when you got your first house?

Mende: My first house after getting married 48 years ago, is a reasonably small condominium and that was also when I just started as a lighting designer. At that time, I thought I must do something special for the house. But I did not have much money to spend, so I decided to do more for the flexible interior. How about your house? Is your house a condominium?

Chia Xing: My upcoming house is a HDB flat, which is Government-subsidised public housing for Singaporeans. In Singapore, it is rather difficult to get a completely new house as we are required to go through a bidding system. I got the bid for this house 6 years ago. The house was supposed to be completed by this year but due to Covid, it got delayed.

Mende: Are you going to renovate your house? It must be exciting.

Chia Xing: Yes! It is exciting as there are some expectations to the house lighting as I am a lighting designer.

Mende: How many rooms are there in the house?

Chia Xing: This is the layout of our house. We have 3 bedrooms, but I am thinking of removing one bedroom to make the living room bigger. My husband and I like to host gatherings, so we prefer a larger living room to have more space for guests to hang out. This is what I have done using Sketchup to allow my husband to have a clearer picture of what I have in mind.

Mende: Where is the lighting?

Chia Xing: The initial lighting design I did was a few years ago but after we engaged an Interior Design Firm, many things have changed along the way.

Mende: Oh really, why?

Chia Xing: The Interior Design Firm specialises in renovation for HDB flat. Based on their experience, they have a much better understanding of the underlying conditions that we did not take into consideration previously. There are also some regulations for the renovation of HDB flat to avoid affecting the other units in our block.

Mende: Did you put in these images?

Chia Xing: Yes. In general, the colour template I chose is not too dark, because I did not want the house to look smaller.

Mende: Right, usually lighting designers always think about reasonable darkness and about the shadows but the baby and the husband might not appreciate. I have designed a new house for my parents when I started as a lighting designer. At that time, the halogen lamp was quite new, and I was very excited to use halogen lamp as downlight. My parents wanted to follow my idea, so I did it with reasonable darkness with dimming. I was very excited then, but they could not understand how to use the dimming and there is also heat coming from the halogen downlight. Although my parents said that they are happy, the house was a bit dark, and the dimming was too complicated for them. So I found that it wasn’t good lighting design for my parents. When designing for the house, you need to take into consideration of your own values, but you also have to consider the needs of the family’s happiness.

Chia Xing: Yes, I agree. Initially, I wanted to have 3000K colour temperature for the house, considering that 2700K is too warm for everyday tasks like cooking. However, when my husband saw the lighting with 3000K, he found it too yellow and difficult to see. I kept trying to convince him that 3000K gives a good ambience from then on. It is an interesting process to see his point of view too.

Mende: You must convince him step-by-step to accept the colour temperature that you want.

Chia Xing: Since he likes cooler and I like warmer colour of light, the budget came into discussion when we considered to have tuneable white lighting. But it may not be practical to have tuneable white at home as we have many windows, we get a lot of natural light coming in and we can experience the natural colour temperature changes throughout the day.

Chia Xing: For our house, we get the morning sun in our bedroom, and we try to avoid having the setting sun shining through our windows when choosing the house.

Mende: It is very nice to have the morning sun. For my house, we did not specify the tuneable white lighting but for the bathroom, we need a higher colour temperature every morning. So, we placed 2 LED light sources with 1 of it having higher colour temperature and dimmed it manually depending on the usage. This is so that we have different colour temperature for morning and night.

Chia Xing: That is a very good idea to have both! Let me show you some of the renderings that the Interior Design Firm did for us after a few rounds of discussion. These renderings are included for discussion on the layout, finish, lighting design that we want before the actual renovation.

Mende: So, have you decided on your final colour temperature?

Chia Xing: I still want 3000K, but I might do it like your house with 2 light sources for my husband to adjust.

Mende: Sometimes, the environment that a person is brought up in will affect his perception of brightness. If he grew up in a very bright house, he would tend to be more sensitive when it is a little bit dark. 

Chia Xing: That is true, my husband grew up in a very bright house with many lights. His house also has many fans so that the house is more cooling. One problem I have was the ceiling fan. The fans are usually disrupting the lighting locations, so we chose the fans with integrated lighting in the end.  

Mende: It is ok, the house does not need to have uniform lighting. My house does not have any pendant or chandelier and has some indirect lighting of mostly 2800K.

Chia Xing: For me, the house is where I can work as well as relax, so there are 2 distinct colour temperature for different functions. But for some people, the house is a place where they completely want to relax, so they can have a very warm and romantic ambience.

Mende: Yes, especially after Covid, most people have to bring their work home. Some people said that for task light at home, it is nicer to have white or high colour temperature, but I do not think so. You are working at home sometimes, right? Where is your working space?

Chia Xing: I would prefer the living room and keep my bedroom as a space to relax.

Mende: Same as me, I work in the dining and living room at home. How do you plan to do your dimming and scene control?

Chia Xing: I am planning to have a straightforward approach of pre-set scene settings.

Mende: So, what do you think is the difference in lighting design values for each house or hotel?

Chia Xing: For hotels, people come and go, and you just have to impress them in that moment to make them like the place. If they stayed longer, they might not like it.

Mende: Yes, hotels need to give the ‘WOW’ effect whereas home lighting should be more sustainable.