What led you to lighting designing? Could you tell us about your journey in this niche domain?
As a child, I was always fascinated by toys with lights. I would dismantle and reassemble them, over and over again till it worked. As I grew older, I became curious. I still remember the day when I had fixed the power button of the television at home out of mere boredom. I found the first chance to lay my hands on it when my parents had gone to a party and I dismantled the TV in awe and wonder.
Fortunately, in Gujarati and Marwari families, it’s a tradition to train kids at a young age. And I was not an exception. I was being trained to become a businessman who would handle one of the family businesses but I was never interested in mass-market products. I always liked niche products. As such, I started interacting with architects and interior designers in a bid to comprehend their views and aesthetic values.
One of them gave me a site in its completion stage whilst the fixing of lights was happening. In those days, interior designers used to prefer MR16 12v 50 w halogens. The interior designer who was designing the apartment had placed them in rows and columns, and I felt that she was overdoing it, but kept quiet, as I was young and new.
Fortunately or unfortunately, she couldn’t turn up for a mock up meeting but clients were there at the site and I had to ask an electrician to fix the dimmers and show dimming of lights. When the client asked for my opinion, I honestly told what I felt. Sensing my ingenuity, he gave me a chance. I rearranged the lighting and asked electricians to switch off the ones I didn’t want. I began aiming them towards the wall where the art was supposed to come, aligning them with the furniture. After the final setting, I started showing them different scenes by dimming and switching off lights. The client was mind blown and asked me to start playing with lights as career.
What drove you to commence your own company?
After being diagnosed with cancer in 2002 and winning against it, the idea of Light & Beyond was born. I started this company with my wife in 2009. Before this, I wanted to explore my market, learn mindset of people and ways in which installations were done back in India etc.
Light & Beyond was born to spread awareness about good lighting design. Make people understand that less is more. Make people connect with nature. Our entire thinking process of designing lighting for a space is based on our spiritual inclinations. Why? One may ask. It’s because we are designing for humans and humans need to feel good when they see or enter any space. Good lighting is always felt before being noticed.
I am grateful that I was accredited with CLD (Certified Lighting Designer) in 2016 and became India’s first and only, Asia’s second and World No. 17th CLD. For me this certification was synonymous with unequivocal global endorsement. As a lighting designer, I had to establish proficiency in at least five of the seven domains of practice that served as the yardstick of performance in this regard.
The seven domains namely goals and outcomes, collaboration, ingenuity, synthesis, science, stewardship, and human experience can be practically described as a comprehensive quantification of all the virtues that a professional in this field should demonstrate. Talking and writing about one, two or three qualities that every lighting architect should exhibit is one thing and to literally spell out seven daunting – (read specific) virtues is quite another.
I mean how can you divorce his ingenuity from his knowledge of the environmental impact of lighting i.e. that’s what ‘stewardship’ here is all about. How can one rule out the need to prioritise human experience in the whole process? How often do we realise the importance of all these virtues until and unless it’s not an esteemed program like CLD spelling it out for us?
That certification for me has never really been a stamp of ‘global authority’, but a means to rediscover myself in my professional space. To be able to demonstrate proficiency associated with at least 5 of these 7 domains was exhilarating! Yes, CLD has really helped me carve a niche in my own and international market. This March, I was named in 40 under 40 hottest lighting designers in the world by Lighting Magazine, UK.
How it feels being in the prestigious list of ‘40 Under 40’?
Notably, 40 Under 40 remains a prestigious international program acknowledging the most promising individuals contributing to the lighting design industry. This highly renowned program collaborated with global lighting brand Osram to honour the new breed of tech-savvy, ever curious, diverse and driven professionals. Founded in the year 2016, it seeks to inspire a whole new generation of passionate lighting designers to keep pushing the horizons for unmatched brilliance.
To be a part of such an illustrious line-up of awardees (class of 2018) is humbling and gratifying at the same time. To document my feelings in words would be a daunting prospect. I feel way more enthused to touch people’s lives with the work that I do. Heralding a change in the way people perceive lighting designs has always been a conscious endeavour. With the passage of time the pressing challenges that I’ve already talked about have started waning. With this award, I clearly see them dwindling into obscurity. This popular award will make more Indians wake up to this innovative and efficacious concept!
What are some of your landmark projects?
Light & Beyond was created to serve the needs of the architects and interior designers. Our work covers a diverse range of projects in India, Europe, UAE and the US. We’ve deployed creative and unique lighting and sound experiences at museums, show apartments, amusement parks, master planning of islands, master planning of cities, restaurants, boutique hotels, branded retail stores and ultra lounges. We are doing many projects to name the few Astitva by Primarc, The Altius by Empress & Amaya Realty, The Novotel, Kolkata, Private Residence in UAE, Restaurant in UAE, Irish Pub in Vienna, Valentino in Vienna, Private Residence Vienna, Sant Kutiya Gurdwara , Kolkata etc. We did Tricolour for The 42 is the new and upcoming project in Chowringhee, which is also the tallest project in Eastern India. The idea was to show how we can communicate through lighting to people silently even when the building is under construction. We are also doing Birla Planetarium in Kolkata – Asia’s largest and World’s second largest planetarium. The most exciting project we are working on is the master planning of an island along with super luxury yacht.
Would you like to share any message for the budding lighting designers?
Be honest, be ethical, be professional, give your 100%, never give up and always think from a customer’s point of view. Keep practicing and keep learning from your mistakes. Use quality products because your name is attached to the project. Keep educating yourself and be well versed all the new technologies.