I must admit that I am a Grand Designs addict who has followed it avidly since it first aired in 1999. I know the format off by heart – Kevin sets the scene; some stuff goes right; some stuff goes wrong; she gets pregnant; Kevin doubts if it will ever a) get finished b) get finished on time/by Christmas c) get built at all d) be completed within budget; Kevin marvels at what they have actually achieved (and often rightly so); the (horribly over budget) end.
Admission number two is that one of the reasons that I watch it is that Kevin McCloud used to own his own lighting practice and manufacturing company “McCloud Lighting”, so I’m a bit like him… Not many tele people have that kind of background – I have very few icons to look up to!
However, I often wonder (actually on an episode by episode basis) if Kevin gets as despondent as I do about the rare mention of lighting or lighting design in the projects that they cover. Episode after episode I find out how important and marvellous SIPs panels, ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps, rainwater harvesting, ICF, triple glazed windows from Scandinavia, bamboo carpet, ply wood kitchens, Kevlar baths, underfloor heating, cantilevered stairs, rain sensing roof lights, etc. etc. are. Very occasionally a feature light might get mentioned and very, very occasionally someone recognises how important the lighting is going to be for their project and hires a lighting designer.
I get really excited when that happens. I watch and listen even more intently than usual – I am a lighting “anorak” after all. So, how excited was I when I caught up with episode 3 of series 19 at the weekend and very early on the phrase “bio-dynamic lighting” was mentioned? I almost bounced off of our sofa with glee – wow, some real cutting-edge lighting technology. Then over the next 40 minutes or so (fast forwarding through the adverts) my heart slowly sank. The concept of bio-dynamic lighting was explained in a millisecond and then lighting products that are absolutely not bio-dynamic were shown. I knew this because I recognised them immediately – they are made by a supplier whose products I regularly specify because they are amazing quality and value. But, bio-dynamic they are not. Perhaps there were products that were bio-dynamic that were edited out of the program or perhaps it was all “smoke and mirrors”. I sadly think I know the answer to that one.
In the spirit of Grand Designs, I will “revisit” this subject in next week’s blog. I will explain what bio-dynamic lighting actually is so that you can be informed if it’s going to be for you. Now, please excuse me as I have to call a potential client back and peel her off of the ceiling. I need to let her know that what she liked on the tele isn’t anywhere near as expensive or as complicated as I first explained to her when she asked me for that “bio-dynamic lighting” that she’d seen on Grand Designs. Smoke and mirrors will be replaced with transparency…