He’s got bright ideas


National Post (Latest Edition) - - Post Homes - BY LEE JA­COB­SON

If you think the team for your new home is com­plete with an ar­chi­tect and in­te­rior de­signer, then meet Ab­hay Wad­hwa. He is one of a hand­ful of spe­cial­ists who prac­tise the art and sci­ence of lighting de­sign. Based in New York with offices in In­dia, the Mid­dle East and Asia, Mr. Wad­hwa’s firm, AWA As­so­ci­ates, de­signs ev­ery­thing from the com­plete lighting of homes, night­clubs and re­tail in­te­ri­ors to en­tire build­ings. One of his re­cent projects is lighting the world’s largest and tallest span­ning-arch bridge — the 1.7-kilo­me­tre­long, $817-mil­lion cross­ing at Dubai Creek in the United Arab Emi­rates. He also de­signs custom res­i­dences with lighting bud­gets from $100,000 to more than $10-mil­lion.

Trained as an ar­chi­tect in his na­tive In­dia, Mr. Wad­hwa worked as a the­atre set and lighting de­signer be­fore do­ing grad­u­ate stud­ies at the Lighting Re­search Cen­tre at Rens­se­laer Polytech­nic In­sti­tute in Troy, N.Y. The glo­be­trot­ting Mr. Wad­hwa, who now teaches part-time at his alma mater, is not a mere spec­i­fier of lamps and light bulbs. His firm has gained a rep­u­ta­tion for its sen­si­tiv­ity to con­text, its use of lighting as a “build­ing ma­te­rial” and a high-de­sign con­tent and the­atri­cal­ity. For the Peak Tower in Hong Kong, he de­signed lighting for the huge atrium at the top of the build­ing that feels like you’re in­side a glass of cham­pagne.

Na­tional Post caught up with Mr. Wad­hwa when he was in Toronto as a key­note speaker at IIDEX/Neo­Con Canada trade show for the con­tract fur­ni­ture in­dus­try. We were in­ter­ested in gain­ing per­spec­tive on lighting in res­i­den­tial projects. NP What changes have you seen in the way lighting is used in the home? Ab­hay Wad­hwa Over the past 100 years, we’ve seen changes that are the re­sult of both tech­nol­ogy and cul­ture. Peo­ple used to go from bright in­te­ri­ors to dark in­te­ri­ors, now they go from bright in­te­ri­ors to bright in­te­ri­ors. But that’s chang­ing, too. Lighting is be­com­ing sub­tle. It’s no longer the no­tion that “more light is bet­ter sight.” Shad­ows ac­tu­ally help hu­man­ize our en­vi­ron­ment, and tech­nol­ogy has been both a bless­ing and a curse. NP How so? AW We’re go­ing through an in­ter­est­ing pe­riod. Be­cause of the price of en­ergy, peo­ple are in­ter­ested in en­ergy-sav­ing lighting so­lu­tions. But there are a lot of tech­nolo­gies that will take time to sort out. There’s great prom­ises and ex­pec­ta­tions around LED lights and com­pact flu­o­res­cent lights. But there are other tech­nolo­gies in the wings like LED poly­mers that will come down in price and will be ap­pro­pri­ate for homes. Be­yond the source of light there is the con­trol of light. Smart homes now al­low us to con­trol ev­ery de­vice in the home from our com­put­ers. But peo­ple still want the ex­pe­ri­ence of switch­ing on a light. NP Is there a dif­fer­ence in how peo­ple in dif­fer­ent coun­tries re­act to light and use it ? AW In hot places, peo­ple want cool or neu­tral light in their homes. In north­ern Europe and parts of North Amer­ica, peo­ple crave warmer light. In warm cli­mate what we call “glare,” they call “sparkle.” It’s about ge­og­ra­phy and the qual­ity of the nat­u­ral light. This in­flu­ences what peo­ple want in their homes. NP What other trends do you see? AW When we are work­ing in emerg­ing economies like In­dia and China, wealthy peo­ple want ex­trav­a­gant lighting fix­tures. They tend to the more baroque in­te­ri­ors and lighting that is more os­ten­ta­tious. In North Amer­ica and Europe, clients al­low us to de­sign in a more min­i­mal way. Even in the elab­o­rate in­te­ri­ors where we may have a chan­de­lier that costs thou­sands of dol­lars, most of the light comes from con­cealed sources. But you still need to see th­ese “mod­ern-day can­de­labras” be­cause peo­ple don’t feel comfortabl­e if they can’t see the source of the light.

Lighting de­signer Ab­hay Wad­hwa.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.