Marici Experience Centre, Kolkata is conceptualised as a holistic, all-one-needs experience centre for lighting design and solutions while involving the end-users, lighting consultants, designers and architects by Salient. Spread across 5,000 square feet and built over three-levels, the primary design intent was to bring together all stakeholders to elevate the collaborative journey and, in the process, improve the lighting experience through innovative energy efficient schemes and solutions.

The design brief given to Salient with intimate client engagement, envisioned a space where lighting can be experienced unaltered and uninterrupted. The centre also aimed to host hospitality events for product launches and knowledge sharing sessions amongst the patrons and professionals etc. The spatial planning necessitated the functionality of an office area during daytime with up to five employees including a floor manager and accommodation facilities for overnight stay were needed, to account for late working hours. A part of the building is home to the property owner where he, a retired government official, resides with his spouse. Due to such a setup and the ground floor providing a garage access to the building complex, the owner had to provide a shared access via the parking area with no permanent installations to be devised towards the entrance.

Inspired from the South-East Asian trade partners, the centre has been conceptualised on the theme of ‘Marici’ – a deva or deity from the Buddhist culture, associated with light and the Sun. Translating it as a notion of experiencing the intangible through the tangible, the interiors celebrate the divinity of light through the various arrangements of light fixtures and fittings. The quality and characteristics of light are perceived through its effects and are contained in a wide spectrum of intensities. The design, therefore evolved as an experience gallery which is integrated through the transitional spaces across the three levels. The space is seamlessly articulated into 12 distinct zones or sections, displaying products and their luminosity through the experiential spatial layout which is interspersed with the modules of actual functional spaces, such as workspaces, lounges, dining areas, etc.—all amidst a mix of formal and informal settings.

Circumventing the garage access, with a common elevator in place, the ground floor is dedicated to the experience of the outdoor lighting section. The first-floor plate has been designated to showcase the architectural lighting, in particular and has been subtly segregated into five zones based on the functionality of spaces and space-appropriate lighting installations — a themed collection, lounge area, jewellery section and conference room in the front. To connect the track lighting section at the rear with the front, a two-part gallery has been created; one half is designed in a white background and the other in black, using architectural lighting, which is evocative of the Chinese philosophy of yin-yang. Ascending the stairs, the railing can be seen accentuated by the lights below it. The themed collection is embellished with floor light stands, wall brackets and suspension luminaires. The lounge houses a lounge chair, a two-seater sofa, a console and a luminaire table, decorated with a clear glass designer chandelier and inclined floor mirror. The flooring is highlighted by the fractal pattern — a single comprehensive design, inspired from the representative geometry of all the seven chakras common in both Hindu and Buddhist philosophies.

The track lighting section reverberates with the Buddhist energies, featuring paintings of the Buddha in a set of six frames. The adjacent AAC brick wall with a bare finish has been chiselled with the design of the seven chakras, each one highlighted using the track luminaires. These chakras are emblematic of the Marici’s journey across space and time on her chariot, achieving an elevated state of consciousness. Every section has its own distinct zest, underlining multiple facets of life merged under a single idea of illumination or light. Clambering to the second and last floor-plate, the space reveals seven sections showcasing different types of decorative lighting and fans. The stairway opens up to the dining section spruced up with a carved-wooden dining table and chairs. Geometric motifs concentric to the furniture layout have been used for the flooring. The ceiling is adorned with boat-crystal chandeliers and designer fans, which complete the interior probity along with the aspired essence of the layout. The next section ahead is conceptualised as a reading room, comprising of table lamp luminaires on a display table along the rear wall. By the entrance, a lounge sofa with a foot stool invites the visitors, and a floor lamp stand creates a representative setup, facilitating visualisation of the installation.

The adjacent section displays various designs of pedestal luminaires along the wall length. The backdrop for these two rooms has AAC brick walls articulated with chiselled murals composed of fractals. Moving towards the front sections, the first is the pendant and underwater lighting section in a fountain pool, with a similar carved-wooden desk for the floor manager at one corner up front. The extreme front section, designed to represent the bedroom setup, has been partitioned horizontally with passages through either side. Against this wooden partition, a TV unit has been fixed. The bedroom ceiling sports a geometric installation of recessed lighting. Above the bed, a pendant luminaire hangs to exemplify the different combinations of installation of the lighting fixtures. Apart from the landing areas of the staircase which have black granite stone as wall cladding, all other walls have been painted with smooth finishes. The colour palette is monochromatic—neutral grey, Buddhist in spirit— it integrates the entire space in its shades, textures and forms.

The total volume of the experience centre, across the different levels, exhibit various lighting options with their efficient functional utility. The design distinctively brings out that the nature; intensity and strategy for lighting have a significant impact upon the perception, vibe and essence of a space. The complete experience of the building complex establishes the translation of knowledge into wisdom, by materialising the visualisation of various aspects of light, coherent in Buddhist philosophy.

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