John Bullock Lighting Design
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Protracted parsimony


I had an e-mail the other day from a journalistic friend: did I have any recent experiences that I’d like to share about clients needing to reduce project budgets in these straitened times (© john bullock: 2009) and did I have any tips on how to achieve said things. I stared at the screen. There was something wrong here, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I didn’t reply and decided to go away for a bit of mulling; the Dodger and I strolled over hill and dale in search of The Key to this Message, which – with every step - was taking on greater and greater significance for me. Then it came to me; I dashed back to the computer, sought out the message and pressed DELETE.

Because the message inside the message – the subtle subliminal subtext, if you will, lay in the suggestion implicit in the question; THAT THE CLIENT HAD ALWAYS HAD MORE MONEY TO SPEND THAN I’D EVER GIVEN THEM CREDIT FOR and that, as a consequence, I’ve been producing lower-priced schemes than I could have got away with. Damn, damn, damn.

Many a time and oft, I’ve looked at photographs in this very organ and thought; ‘Blimey, I wish I had clients with that kind of budget’. Of course, now I realise that they had that kind of money all along, and it’s only now in these straitened times (© john bullock: 2009) that they really need to look to their bottom line. And I’m now in a greater bind because I’ve assumed that lighting designers have always been there to give value for money and all those little tricks and feints and sleight-of-hands that we know to keep specification costs down have been part of the day-to-day business of consultancy business. Oh, what a fool I’ve been!

But when I think back over some client decisions, it all starts to make sense.
The client who bubbled at the price of a special lantern, then took umbrage with me and went off and got it made himself – at three times the price I quoted him.
Querying the cost of a dimmer switch, then spending silly money to get a rocker switch painted in a special decorator finish, better to match the wall finish, apparently.
Not trusting the lighting designer to source a decorative fixture, preferring to entrust the interior designer with the job – with hilarious consequence.
And how about leaving the electrical design to the contractors rather than spend money on a consulting engineer – oh, what fun we had when the walls had to be chased out again after the decorating was all complete!

Yes – the money was always there. It’s just been me being daft enough not to see the signs.



RIBA CPD in 2015

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John Bullock Lighting Design
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