The De­sign View

VM&RD - - SPECIAL FEATURE - LIGHTING - Chanda P Kumar (with in­puts from Nabamita Chat­ter­jee & Nitya Gnanao­livu)

To­day re­tail is all about a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket place, with a plethora of op­tions avail­able in terms of price, qual­ity and va­ri­ety. In this, the store am­bi­ence plays a big role in en­tic­ing passers-by into con­sum­ing shop­pers. Stud­ies on con­sumer psy­chol­ogy have proved that light­ing de­sign has a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on a con­sumer buy­ing pat­tern. For light­ing de­sign­ers the chal­lenge has been blend­ing en­ergy ef­fi­ciency with aes­thet­ics im­pact and com­mu­ni­cat­ing the net value to their clients. VM&RD spoke to re­tail de­sign firms and retailers to learn more about their take on light­ing strat­egy, chal­lenges and its im­pact on the shop­pers.

Akey piv­otal role of light­ing is in­flu­enc­ing am­bi­ence and cre­at­ing an at­trac­tive set­ting for mer­chan­dise pre­sen­ta­tion. “It is through light­ing and light­ing alone that we per­ceive any given space, fin­ish, tex­ture etc. and ob­vi­ously…the prod­ucts and VM.” says Amit Aurora, Part­ner, DCA Ar­chi­tects.

Adding to this Sud­hir Soundal­gekar, Cus­tomer Care As­so­ciate & Head – Life­style & Spe­cial­ity Projects, Shop­pers Stop

ex­plains, “Cus­tomers se­lect any mer­chan­dise by virtue of its looks, its first im­pres­sion which suits his per­son­al­ity and light­ing does play the most crit­i­cal part to en­hance the prod­uct qual­ity in re­tail stores. It in­vites and re­tains cus­tomers which ul­ti­mately re­sult in in­crease of sales.”

An­other key ben­e­fit of light­ing is to Vis­ually Mer­chan­dis­ing the store of­fer­ings.

Ac­cord­ing to de­sign­ers, light­ing acts as the most in­te­gral part of vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing,

bring­ing the prod­uct un­der the spot­light. “The store de­sign con­cept is es­sen­tially driven by it, as high­light­ing the prod­uct de­pends on the light­ing ar­range­ment. About 80% of the fo­cus goes on light­ing,”

says Devyani Jaiswal, Ar­chi­tect & In­te­rior De­signer, DJ As­so­ciates.

Light­ing plays this role with equal im­por­tance at the store

front. “For the façade, brightly lit sig­nage a nd win­dows grab at­ten­tion to con­vey the store im­age and en­tice t he c us­tomer into the store. Out­door lights and sig­nage are also de­signed to com­ple­ment the ar­chi­tec­ture of the store front,” com­ments Ma­hesh Kr­ishna, Store De­vel­op­ment, Mahin­dra Re­tail.

Cri­te­ria for de­cid­ing on a light­ing de­sign and sys­tem would de­pend on the ob­jec­tives

of the re­tail for­mat. Lux lev­els, colour ren­der­ing in­dex, en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, bud­gets and most im­por­tantly – mer­chan­dise sold – act as the key fac­tors in de­sign­ing a light­ing strat­egy at re­tail. Ac­cord­ing to Dhiren Ch­heda, Founder, Dhiren Ch­heda As­so­ciates, the pa­ram­e­ters for de­cid­ing the light­ing also de­pend on fac­tors such as - store en­vi­ron­ment, the height of the store, floor­ing used, the colour of fur­ni­ture used etc. “The key con­sid­er­a­tion would be to get the right kind of bal­ance be­tween am­bi­ence and ac­cent light­ing. Ide­ally the light­ing should be mer­chan­dise cen­tric, where right lux lev­els should be main­tained on the mer­chan­dise. We take ref­er­ences from in­ter­na­tional re­sources that treat light­ing with ut­most im­por­tance and as a key fac­tor in store

de­sign,” says Arun Murthy, Pro­ject Head, Van Heusen from Madura Gar­ments. Adding to this, Ma­hesh from Mahin­dra Re­tail ex­plains how peo­ple, planet & profit act as key con­sid­er­a­tions. Peo­ple: Cus­tomer de­light, con­ve­nience & their safety, Planet: En­ergy ef­fi­cient and en­vi­ron­ment friendly and Profit: Fo­cus on above to build cus­tomer base & thereby im­prove fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits.

Giv­ing more in­sight into the In­dian con­sumer’s mind-set about light­ing, Bipratip

Dhar, Ar­chi­tect at Ep­silon ex­plains that the per­cep­tion is pre­dom­i­nantly to­wards “more

is good”. “This is why we see that most store own­ers have a ten­dency to use abun­dance of light . How­ever with glob­al­iza­tion of de­sign con­cepts, t he store own­ers, cus­tomers and de­sign­ers are learn­ing to adapt to “con­cept light­ing”, which is cur­rently limited to branded stores in ur­ban ar­eas,” he adds.

In­vest­ment of Light­ing is a key de­ci­sion for retailers and the trend has been up­ward in this.

The de­sign fra­ter­nity be­lieves that to­day In­dian retailers are giv­ing more im­por­tance to and in­vest­ing in light­ing de­sign within their stores. An­other crit­i­cal de­vel­op­ment is that retailers are be­gin­ning to un­der­stand that ini­tial in­vest­ment in good qual­ity light­ing fix­tures is vi­tal, so that on-go­ing main­te­nance costs are re­duced. Cur­rently, retailers in In­dia typ­i­cally spend any­where be­tween 5% and 15% of the to­tal store capex on light­ing. “Light­ing fix­tures avail­able th­ese days are of very good qual­ity which have a var­ied range of col­lec­tion. With this, the one­time in­vest­ment has gone up and the re­cur­ring cost have come down. So once the clients are con­vinced, they are ready to in­vest,” ex­plains Devyani. Bring­ing in the in­ter­na­tional de­sign agency’s view­point, Ken Nisch, Chair­man- JGA be­lieves that light­ing is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a big­ger part of the store bud­get. “Un­for­tu­nately, many client s still look at first costs ver­sus life­time costs and choose in­fe­rior equip­ment by look­ing only at the ini­tial cap­i­tal in­vest­ment, ver­sus the on­go­ing cap­i­tal, in­clud­ing hu­man cap­i­tal, that would be re­quired to main­tain ei­ther a low qual­ity or an ill-suited set of choices when it re­lates to light­ing. I am look­ing at this as a life­cy­cle cost and it will take a sig­nif­i­cant amount of change on the part of cor­po­rate man­age­ment, lead­ing this not solely in the hands of pur­chas­ing, but also bring­ing the op­er­a­tional part of the busi­ness into this de­ci­sion mak­ing process.”

Ac­cess and avail­abil­ity of light­ing sys­tems for mod­ern de­sign con­cepts is an im­por­tant as­pect that de­ter­mines the qual­ity of the mar­ket­place.

With a mix of home-grown and in­ter­na­tional man­u­fac­tur­ers, I ndia boasts of many com­pa­nies who can pro­vide light­ing so­lu­tions to match global stan­dards. Be­sides of­fer­ing In­dian-made light­ing sys­tems or the op­tion to im­port, to­day the coun­try has taken a dif­fer­ent route where im­ported com­po­nents are ex­pertly in­te­grated with In­dian fix­tures to give de­sired so­lu­tions at com­pet­i­tive prices. “About 5 years back, we used to im­port lights but now In­dian ven­dors have given us suf­fi­cient con­fi­dence to rely on their prod­ucts, where assem­bly of good qual­ity im­ported parts de­liv­ers a bud­get friendly so­lu­tion. How­ever, the good light­ing de­sign­ers are very rare in In­dia as this still has re­mained a ne­glected area in tech­ni­cal in­sti­tutes,” ex­plains Sud­hir.

Con­trary to this view­point, de­sign­ers and ar­chi­tects in In­dia ex­press that they still pre­fer

to im­port light­ing fix­tures. “Un­for­tu­nately, we as a coun­try do not have many good light­ing com­pa­nies (in terms of R&D and pro­duc­tion). Most of the do­mes­tic com­pa­nies are also ei­ther im­port­ing com­po­nents or com­plete fix­tures. So, when­ever we want high per­for­mance and qual­ity prod­ucts, there is no choice but to im­port fix­tures,” ex­plains

Amit Aurora.

Adding to this Bipratip says that im­port­ing lights gives as­sur­ance of qual­ity & per­for­mance over a longer pe­riod of

time. “Con­cept light­ing in store de­sign is com­par­a­tively a young trend in In­dia and lo­cal avail­abil­ity is yet to gear up in de­sign range & con­sis­tent as­sur­ance of per­for­mance.”

The De­mand Sup­ply sce­nario of light­ing de­sign con­sul­tants does im­pact the at­ten­tion given and the qual­ity of the re­tail en­vi­ron­ments.

De­sign­ers and ar­chi­tects ex­plain that though good l i ght­ing con­sul­tants are avail­able in In­dia, the field is still in a very nascent stage in

In­dia. “In In­dia it is still a very niche mar­ket and we need more in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als to bridge the gap. There is a great void in terms of op­tions avail­able,” Swarup Dutta – In­te­rior De­signer & Visu­al­izer ex­plains.

Adding to this Amit Aurora says that in to­day’s global sce­nario, it is not dif­fi­cult to

work with in­ter­na­tional con­sul­tants ei­ther. “As far as our prac­tice is con­cerned, we have been (in­ter­na­tion­ally) train­ing and up­grad­ing our in­ter­nal re­sources in the field of light­ing, and have de­vel­oped light­ing so­lu­tions for some of our global clients as well.” De­sign­ers be­lieve that de­vel­op­ment of lo­cal tal­ent in this spe­cialty field is vi­tal to match global stan­dards. How­ever, there isn't any In­dian in­sti­tute of­fer­ing light­ing de­sign as a spe­cialty, where as it is an es­tab­lished dis­ci­pline at mas­ter’s level in many re­puted de­sign schools in­ter­na­tion­ally. “If con­cept light­ing de­sign has to grow as a sub­ject we need more tal­ent to take it up as a sub­ject of choice. They would be ex­per­i­ment­ing with new and fresh ideas to use light­ing as an in­te­gral part of con­cept de­sign. The study and thor­ough un­der­stand­ing of global stan­dards would be un­der­taken by th­ese tal­ent and only then ap­pli­ca­tion to a lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment would be more ef­fec­tive and re­sult ori­ented,” says

Bipratip. Devyani adds to this and be­lieves that pro­fes­sion­als deal­ing with VM and those from the light­ing in­dus­try should come up with work­shops, sem­i­nars etc. to keep abreast with of the global trends. This will fa­cil­i­tate the sup­pli­ers by giv­ing them more ex­po­sure and also retailers as well de­sign­ers to con­cep­tu­al­ize bet­ter de­signs for the re­tail out­lets.

In­fras­truc­tural chal­lenges are a de­ter­rent that need to be ad­dressed in dif­fer­ent mar­kets.

Like all other ele­ments that go into cre­at­ing a store de­sign con­cept, light­ing too has many con­straints in In­dia. In terms of se­lec­tion, light­ing de­pends largely on mer­chan­dise and in turn on the re­tail iden­tity of that brand. Arun from Madura Gar­ments ex­plains that th­ese two fac­tors need to gel well to get it absolutely right. “Get­ting the right lux lev­els, color of the light, dark and il­lu­mi­nated ar­eas in the store, and shadow play are some of the chal­lenges.” While the coun­try of­fers a va­ri­ety of light­ing so­lu­tions, the retailers do face a chal­lenge in us­age and main­te­nance. Plagued with poor power con­di­tions and lack of ser­vice to mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions, the light­ing sys­tems at re­tail take a ma­jor hit and in turn add to the main­te­nance cost of the re­tailer. “If there is no clean power avail­able or there are power fluc­tu­a­tions; the lights might fuse very fre­quently, and hence would in­crease the main­te­nance costs,” Sud­hir adds. Along with this, retailers also find it hard to make sure the floor staff com­plies in switch­ing on/off dur­ing peak/non-peak light­ing cir­cuits.

Talk­ing about chal­lenges in light­ing dur­ing de­sign adap­ta­tion or lo­cal­iza­tion of global con­cepts in In­dia, Ken Nisch from JGA

ex­plains, “Tra­di­tion­ally, the level of light­ing in en­vi­ron­ments may be higher in the In­dian mar­ket than it might be at the same level and type of re­tail in a Euro­pean mar­ket. Shop­ping en­vi­ron­ments, in­clud­ing shop­ping malls and stores, tend to be sig­nif­i­cantly brighter in the In­dian mar­ket ver­sus how malls in pub­lic space en­vi­ron­ments tend to be more softly lit al­low­ing the stores them­selves to be more prom­i­nent in mar­kets out­side of In­dia. In fact, most shop­ping en­vi­ron­ments out­side of In­dia would look at land­scape and site light­ing as a key part of the wel­come and in­vi­ta­tion to the shop­ping en­vi­ron­ment, and be­ing de­signed in har­mony with the in­te­rior en­vi­ron­ment as well.” But while the In­dian sen­si­bil­ity in the con­text of light­ing may be dif­fer­ent from the re­tail en­vi­ron­ment abroad and there may still be a long way to go be­fore we match in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, there is cer­tainly tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for the In­dian light­ing in­dus­try, thanks to the new age In­dia Cus­tomer, evolved Retailers and Ex­pe­ri­enced de­sign con­sul­tants. With tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion, bet­ter price points, new prod­uct range and de­sign flex­i­bil­ity, the in­dus­try is ex­pected to see tremen­dous growth in sync with the bur­geon­ing re­tail sec­tor in In­dia. Lead­ing the light­ing in­dus­try to a bright fu­ture, the LED has cre­ated more de­sign pos­si­bil­i­ties for the de­signer in the re­tail de­sign sphere. Adding to this, the LED also comes as an eco­nom­i­cal and en­vi­ron­ment friendly source of light­ing, mak­ing it an op­ti­mal light­ing op­tion at re­tail. Ac­cord­ing to Ken Nisch, the fu­ture of the light­ing in­dus­try in In­dia is the “third way”where prod­ucts are en­gi­neered ei­ther in and/or us­ing in­ter­na­tional stan­dards or com­po­nents, but with a sig­nif­i­cant amount of the assem­bly and dis­tri­bu­tion costs be­ing done within In­dia. “I be­lieve this pro­vides the best op­por­tu­nity for In­dia to have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on light­ing out­side its home mar­ket. The value that the In­dian sup­plier/man­u­fac­turer can bring both in terms of qual­ity, but as well as in price, po­si­tions the in­dus­try well to sup­ply much of East Asia and other rapidly de­vel­op­ing re­tail mar­kets such as South and North Africa, the Mid­dle East where it is un­likely that in the near term there will be a sig­nif­i­cant man­u­fac­tur­ing and sup­ply base,” he con­cludes

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