Text: Martin Klaasen
Photos: Martin Klaase

02. Dec 2009

A report on lighting designers with European roots working in Asia

For a lighting designer, doing projects in Asia may seem exciting and exotic. Walking the streets of Shanghai or Bangkok is quite special: different languages, food, cultural habits and the incredible building density make it feel like a privilege to work in Asia. But doing projects in such a different environment is not only fun and excitement. Often there are big challenges to overcome. Dutch lighting designer Martin Klaasen has worked and lived in Asia for over 20 years. This is his personal report on how he experienced this fascinating part of the world.

My first taste of Asia dates way back to 1985 when I started to travel East (I was then still working for Philips Lighting in Eindhoven) for project implementation support. But it wasn’t until 1988 before I actually settled in Singapore and started doing lighting projects in the surrounding countries. In the early nineties, buoyed by the demand for lighting consultancy in the region, I left Philips and started my own consultancy, Lumino Design International. One of our very first lighting design engagements was a real marketing coup. We managed to be appointed as the main lighting consultants (alongside Howard Brandston, who was appointed amongst others to do the exterior façade lighting) for the bulk of the interior and exterior landscape areas of the KLCC Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. At the time it was the tallest building in the world. We suddenly found ourselves working with world renowned architects and interior designers and as a result in the center of “Asian” attention. Our portfolio from there onwards grew quickly and in 1995 we had our first encounter with the Chinese culture. We were engaged as project lighting designers for the Ascot Serviced Apartments in Shanghai, a two tower development atop a commercial podium block which was later renamed as “Grand Somerset”. Located close to the famous Huai Hai Road and Xin Tian Di area, ist traditionally illuminated stepped up roof feature today still makes for a landmark in the Shanghai skyline. […]
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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 69.

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