At a time, when lighting designers in India are at a crossroad to meet project requirements with quality and price, the homegrown company Hazel Lighting Systems has expressed commitment to offer superior value proposition to its clients and designers by offering a mass customisation platform for projects. Here’s an exclusive interview with Hazel’s Managing Director Hussain Burhani:
Hazel is a specialist in designing and supplying of high-quality lighting products. How do you look at the changing trends in architectural lighting?
Architecturally designed lighting is increasingly becoming more complex owing to project demands requiring customisation and sophistication in order to provide differentiated lighting. High net-worth clients wish to distinguish their homes, offices, etc. by uniquely differentiated lighting schemes. Other than this, technological advancement has led to lighting being digitally controlled and connected. This change is becoming more apparent with the increasing number of lighting designers being appointed for different projects in the country compared to what we had just a few years ago.
What will drive the demand in future?
India has begun the process of shifting to LED lighting from conventional sources. While this shift has been the primary driving force for lighting, I personally feel that future demands will be driven based on the changing trends like differentiated lighting. Urban and semi-rural consumers alike are becoming more and more aware of such design trends. The aspirational levels of Indians are based on their discretionary incomes and their appreciation of the finer elements of lighting. These aspirations will increasingly move consumers away from the commoditisation of the standard bulbs, tubes, fixtures, etc. to more aesthetic driven fixtures with brand preferences.
What’s your comment on the competition in the entire lighting product industry? Do you think competition will only intensify in this market?
Lighting is increasingly becoming a confluence of mechanical, electrical, electronics and IT-related business, which has completely changed the dynamics of the industry. The intensity of competition in the lighting industry is heavily dependent on the expertise and competence of existing players and potential entrants. However, unlike other industries, there are very few testing laboratories and fewer R&D and education centres. These are critical drivers for innovation to prevent lighting from becoming a mere price-driven commodity where quality becomes the greatest casualty, which is already visible on a broader level.
What gives you an upper edge over other competitors?
Unorganised players with limited product knowledge largely drive the Indian lighting industry. There is a big vacuum of lighting manufacturers and suppliers who can offer high quality fixtures with technical specifications that match Western brands at reasonable prices. This invariably leaves lighting designers in India at a crossroad because on the one hand they have to depend on Western products to meet project requirements while on the other hand they are unable to specify these products as their pricing doesn’t meet clients’ budget. This vacuum encouraged me to pursue a Masters degree in Architectural Lighting Design from Wismar, Germany so as to understand the thought processes of the lighting design community, and translate their needs and aspirations into our product development efforts towards creating quality offerings…and not to become a lighting designer! This in my opinion gives us an upper edge over some of the other players in the market.
Being a professionally managed company, our emphasis has always been on R&D and training, which translates into our product development capabilities. Our USP is to offer superior value proposition to our clients and designers by offering a mass customisation platform for projects. This has been possible with a strong team that we have built over the years and our belief to keep investing in technology and equipment.
What’s your assessment on the potential of the B2B market as far as your products are concerned?
Our core strength is mass customisation and we look to build upon that strength. Being a project lighting company, we focus on executing mid- to large-scale projects, which entails deep understanding of every detail from design stage right up to installation and site support. Having said that, I believe there is a great potential to collaborate with specialty lighting companies across the country to cater to a greater audience and larger market segments.
What is the most challenging project you have worked on? How did you tackle the issues in this project?
Hazel has been fortunate to be a part of many landmark projects over the years but the most challenging project till date has been the ceiling cove installation at Sheraton Grand Hotel Convention Centre in Bengaluru built by Prestige Developers. Lightbox from Singapore who designed the lighting, wanted an RGB-WW fully-programmable 50W per metre linear installation in the ceiling cove with an area of 5,500 sq. ft. 500 linear fixtures were installed at a height of 15 metres with access to the ceiling only through a crane. Thus, we had to ensure a ‘maintenance-free’ installation through an indigenously designed wireless system, which enabled the programming and control of all fixtures individually through a simple app on a handheld tablet. The end result of the installation was thoroughly satisfying for us as well as the entire project team.
For a successful project execution, why it is essential to have a clear understanding between interior designer and lighting designer?
As a matter of hierarchy, the lighting designer has to essentially take cues from the interior designer in order to give life to the overall design intent. But there are times when there is a big disconnect between the two mainly due to lack of communication. For implementing a successful project, good understanding and communication between the lighting designer and interior designer along with the lighting supplier and contractor is critical. If this does not happen, you end up making compromises within the project.
What are your future goals? Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Our primary goal is to maintain and enhance quality of our product offerings and carve out newer segments where quality is of paramount value versus a price focused clientele. We look forward to opening newer geographies with current focus being on the Indian sub-continent as well as the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
In 5 years, we see ourselves growing multi-fold in size and scale with the idea of being top choice of designers and clients alike for projects across geographies. We will continue to invest in people and technology in order to preserve our uniqueness and high differentiation, with continued spending towards profitable products and segments.
How would you like to enhance your market presence?
As a company it has been our sincere effort to make sure we become the most reliable and dependable lighting partner for designers and clients, and we have been working hard in this direction. To create this value, it is important we enhance our market presence and as discussed earlier we look forward to creating stronger relationships and partnerships within the industry.
Over the years we have been focusing towards building our back and have never really tried to make our presence felt. Now with expansion and growth in our minds we look forward to creating our presence by taking part in lighting fairs across the globe and participating in lighting events.