In your experience, how has lighting design evolved?
I entered into lighting design through architecture and had the good fortune to work in various celebrated architectural institutions and studios. I also travelled, studied and worked on both the Indian sub-continent and in Europe.
Light is no longer static, it can easily be made dynamic and alive; responsive to other environmental and sensory factors like temporal and seasonal change, behavioral change, changes in sound, temperature, etc. It can even be interactive to suit urban and individual needs and express socio-economic agendas. No longer just a medium to empower visibility, light is becoming more and more miniature, an integral and immersive part of space that enhances spatiality. Its meaningful application is conducive to atmospheres fostering quality individual and urban life.
How do lighting and architecture compliment each other?
Light becomes an integral part of the project when it's a seamless part of the architecture. So, we look for inspiration from the program: architecture, city or client brand, or the socio-cultural behavior, to create our lighting narrative hero.
Ahmedabad, the city of Gujarat State where I grew up and now practice, is a commerce-oriented city. Time is money, so we make time the hero with most of our projects using dynamic lighting designs, breathing life into lighting installations.
In the west, I learned that lighting design is sometimes like playing in an orchestra; as a lighting designer you play in a group of consultants and bring out the best of the performance to mesmerize the users.
What three projects stand out?
Dandi Kutir museum (a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi), part of a lighting master plan for the capital complex of Gujarat, India. It was a good demonstration of a methodological approach to this master plan and a reasonably well executed large scale project.
In Mondeal Square, we continued the Indian culture of media facades (popular in its extensively carved and painted temples, mansions that tell cultural stories in a classic way). The use of media lights demonstrated that creative video content can make low resolution media facades an interesting neighbor and conducive to brand identity.
In the custom luminaire design for the Sumel-6 project, we demonstrated that use of waste and local craftsmanship — with advanced media technology — can create beautiful surprises and make large scale repetitive developments more human while engaging with the surrounding neighborhood.
Describe lighting's role in smart cities?
We are increasingly moving towards the dynamic and responsive lighting environments and the future will move more towards interactive environments, as set forth in my book, Light Games in Our Cities.
Smart cities use quality design approach and appropriate technology based on several design parameters and contextual requirements. Connecting lighting with other services will always bring in more immersive and rich experience and perhaps lead to more energy efficient ways to cater to our practical needs.