‘Lighting an exhibition stall is much more challenging’
By N Jayalakshmi | May 31, 2023
While the aesthetics of lighting varies dynamically across retail spaces, it gets even more challenging and interesting in an exhibition space. Ankit Pallan, Founder of AP Designs, which specialises in exhibition stall design, shares some insights on this with Retail4Growth in this ‘Spotlight’ conversation presented in association with Gardler.
You’ve been in the retail and exhibition space design for some years now. Do you notice a change in the way clients are approaching their lighting now?
Yes, lighting has evolved over the years from very generic lighting to specific, task oriented one. Every product requires a certain kind of lighting and clients understand this, so they come to us with very specific requirements, based on their product and category requirements. There are lighting experts today who can give solutions as per the product needs. So the world is moving towards this kind of customisation when it comes to lighting, and this is true of the exhibition space too. I see a big shift in the overall understanding of various aspects of lighting and how they work in a given environment.
What are the critical differences when it comes to lighting between a store and an exhibition space?
The way lighting works in an exhibition space is different from how it does in a retail space. A store is a closed environment with a fixed ceiling, which can trap the lighting. So the amount of illumination from a certain wattage of lighting is much higher in a retail space. But in an exhibition space, there is transfer of light to the atmosphere because of open ceilings, so the illumination you get from the same wattage of lighting is much lower. This is why we generally increase the illumination of focused lights by 10-15% in the open stalls of an exhibition. Also, in an exhibition, we also have to take into account venue lighting, which affects the lighting in a stall, and accordingly design the lighting.
So do you find lighting an exhibition stall more challenging and also creatively more exciting?
Yes absolutely. In an exhibition, it’s all about instant visibility. Inside a store, there is a certain process in terms of how the consumer navigates through the space and we can accordingly strategise the design. But in an exhibition space, the movement of people is quite unpredictable. So we have to use lighting as a highlighting source for the product so that it is visible from any distance. We have to make sure that by the time a customer reaches the product, he or she has already decided to buy it. The lighting design here is thus all about enabling a customer to experience a product at different distances.
As an architect, what are the challenges you face when it comes to finding the right lighting solution for a project?
Well, China still holds a large percentage of the market when it comes to solutions like lighting and this has an impact on the consistency of final output. In the case of exhibitions, the volume of requirements is really high, so cost does matter and we accordingly have to go for cost effective options. But the impact is seen when it does not match the illumination delivered by the same watts of light from another brand. The luminosity differs completely and clients obviously question it. Also, vendors often work with a certain lighting brand, especially when they get good margins from it. They will look at it as a beneficial partnership and tend to promote the same. Architects in turn will promote the same brand to their clients. These dynamics also play a part. End of the day, it’s pricing that really matters. So the challenge lies in balancing cost with quality.
Any criteria you apply when it comes to choosing a lighting vendor/supplier for a project?
Well, apart from factors such as quality and cost, delivery and availability are also very important. The location of the supplier is thus important in terms of delivery. Also, for exhibitions, 24x7 hour availability in the case of any wear and tear is very important. If I am short of lights and the supplier can’t deliver the same light with the same quality specs, then I might not go back to him.
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Images courtesy: AP Designs
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