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BW Businessworld

For That Warm Glow

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The trick, a famous movie director once said, lies in managing the shadows. Invert that and manage the lit spaces cleverly and, voila! What you get is a warm and cosy room that puts you at ease and, if you are great at lighting, creates the ambience for a flirtatious dalliance.
 
Little wonder then that any good filmmaker will tell you that it is all in the lighting. Get that right and the job is more than half done. What photographers have known forever, home owners are now beginning to realise. You might have the best architecture, fabulously designed interiors, and ultra modern or timeless classical furniture but it’s lighting that gives that luxurious glow to a home. 
And the good news is that you no longer have to go scouting abroad for luxe lamps and fixtures.  Or rely on unbranded stuff. Premium light brands are now available right here in the country, with a plethora of designs and automated solutions.
 
A visit to Light India — the annual lighting exhibition in Delhi — was an illuminating experience. Philips, of course, totally led the action with its innovative app-controlled LED (light-emitting diode) solutions, and its futuristic peeks at OLED technology (still in prototype stage). But there were interesting designs to be seen from Anchor Electricals (a Panasonic company), especially its remote-controlled Symphony Lighting range, and Chinese brand Opple’s debut offerings for India. While Philips now has over 110 Light Lounges across India, Anchor has just opened its LED Lighting Experience Centre in Bangalore, while Opple is opening one in Chennai.
 
Philips is also bringing to India offerings from two of its global acquisitions — Luceplan, a design-led luxe lighting firm headquartered in Milan, and Modular Lighting Instruments, a Belgian firm. These are high-end luminaires (prices on request only), and will be available next year.
 
What new sources of lighting like LED have done is that you can now light up a home in hitherto unimaginable ways. Philips, for instance, has got a range of stuffed toys with lights in them, fruit platters and wine holders that twinkle at you, hanging diyas that light up when you blow on them. As Kalyan Raychaudhuri from the Centre of Competence at Philips Lighting India says, “Brilliance can be created by using a signature piece of product or innovative applications; for instance, coloured lights inside alcoves and so on.” 
 
The Shining Moon by Opple (left); Innovative Lighting (right): High-end luxe lights by Luceplan
For A Well-Lit Home
•  Proper lighting level – which helps us to see
• Colour temperature – The right whiteness of light helps to set the mood. Warm white light are inviting, comfortable and relaxing; neutral white light is efficient, balanced, natural-looking; daylight is bright, clean, lively
• Colour rendering index – Helps identify the right colour

And the lighting fixtures themselves are so clever now that you don’t even notice where they are. You could have lights embedded in a staircase or cleverly concealed behind false ceilings. Of course, the chandelier still reigns supreme in luxe homes, though the ornate chandelier of the past is now giving way to funky modern pieces. In fact, the hospitality industry sets the trend in terms of innovative hanging lights — at Starwood brand Aloft, for instance, you get to see interesting geometrical graphic prints on canvas which add a new dimension to the ceiling light. What’s more interesting, you can change the prints to get a different look! Lara Shortall, creative director, Brand Design, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, describes how a lot of work is done to get the right aura for a room — for instance, wireless LED lighting could be built into headboards above the bed to provide ambient lighting in the room.
 
Control In Your Hands
Technology is moving almost at the speed of light when it comes to automated lighting — so much so that a switchless home is totally possible, with the lights controlled by apps on your phone or through a pre-programmed control panel. The current trend in luxury homes is to have good looking wall-mounted interfaces with customised buttons and displays.
 
But, to get it all in place, you need to think about lighting fairly early and incorporate it at the architectural and design stage itself. Says  Raychaudhuri, “Ideally lighting should be planned along with interior layout, furniture and finishing parameters like texture, paint, wallpaper, etc. Also, the electrical points, switches and home automation should be as per the lighting plan and not vice-versa.”
 
In fact, with connected bulbs all over the home, the trend is to buy lighting plans from companies. Lighting is highly personal.  The intensity, measured in candlepower, the colour tones, the luminosity — all vary from individual to individual. While you may like moderate lighting, your partner may prefer dimmer lighting. And, again, thanks to apps like the Philips Hue, at one click of a button or a swipe of the colour palette, you can adjust the hue and tone to your individual preference. The control is in your hands.
 
If you install a lighting system, then you can pre-program different lighting settings for different times of the day, or occasions. So you could do settings like parties, daily use and romantic ambience. “Also, the right ambience can be created by proper layering of lights. By experimenting with different types of lighting, the mood of a room can change from calm and romantic to energising and vibrant,” says Raychaudhuri. 
 
Different Spaces, Different Lights
The kitchen needs stronger lighting with task lighting over the countertop surfaces. The living room needs lighting that throws the designs into an interesting play and enhances ambience.  As Raychaudhuri points out, “Many people prefer to view art objects without being distracted by the lighting equipment that illuminates them.” He suggests the lighting level for highlighting elements in a living space could be 50-100-200 lux, whereas the general lighting could be 40-80-160 lux.
In case of kitchens, the focal point is most often the cabinetry, and surrounding surfaces. The wood, tiles,  etc., should be well lit, enhancing their appearance and functionality. Accent lighting of special objects such as cookware contributes to making the kitchen the feature place it has become in many homes. The suggested general lighting in kitchens is 50-100-200 lux and for task lighting  it is 150-300-600 lux.
 
The future’s bright and its in your hands — make the switch! 
 
(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 15-12-2014)