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'Lighting can make or break a store': Bhavuk Jain, Architect

By N Jayalakshmi | August 23, 2021

Retail4Growth presents ‘Spotlight’ , a series in association with lighting solutions company Gardler, in which architects and store designers share their views on the role that lighting plays in the whole in-store experience . In this interaction, Bhavuk Jain, Architect/Planner/Interior Designer and Partner - Sync Design Studio, talks about the dynamics of lighting in retail design projects. Read on…

Bhavuk Jain<br>Architect/Planner/Interior Designer & Partner<br>Sync Design StudioCan you talk about the role lighting plays in your retail projects and your approach to it ?

I always tell my clients this:  A light can make or break a store, so it’s  very important.  There is a whole science behind the impact of lighting. Today in retail lighting there are so many new trends emerging.  There is the shift from incandescent to LED, the fixtures are getting sleeker and smaller and there is also the trend of flexible lighting. All the aspects - the colour temperature, beam, angle etc., play a very important part in  a store and it varies from project to project, depending on the retail category. In a grocery store, light essentially guides you, so you need lighting in the aisles, and the overall store space should be better lit, compared to say, a designer store. So a boutique store looks better in 3000 kelvin, but a grocery store looks better in a 4000 kelvin. Also, the way light highlights the product is very important.

We as a firm believe in task lighting, which is about having lights where you want and this always works better in retail.

For a  recent grocery store project we did, we used the track system which could accomodate both T5 lights and spotlights. The spotlights were used to highlight the products, while the T5 was used to illuminate the aisles. Plus, they could be used anywere. This ensured there were no dark spots , the aisles were well lit, and the products were amply highlighted.

What are the  typical challenges you face in a project when it comes to lighting?

The main challenge is in terms of cheaper products imported from China and sold in the name of retail lighting. Some clients don’t know the difference and end up compromising on quality. So sometimes in a project it happens that the client goes for cheaper lighting and the overall effect of the store suffers massively. After many disagreements, we eventually manage to get the lighting replaced and the effect of the store changes completely. So it’s very important to educate the clients. They can avoid replacement costs if they are aware about quality lighting.

In general what is the overall client awareness and approach to lighting in retail?

Corporate clients are usually aware, they have systems, standards and brand specifications in place. They don’t look for cheaper options, but good options. But in the case of individual clients,  very often we have to educate them and show them mockups on how lighting can change the effect of the space.

When you work with a lighting partner/supplier for a project, what do you look for?

1. Brand credibility and reliability :  The brand name of the lighting company and their position in the market is very important. The advantage with a known brand is that their products are available when you need them. But the problem with other products, like those imported from China, is that we might not get the same lot of fixtures when we need them again, so availability is an issue when you have to change the lighting.

2. Latest technologies - There are constant innovations in lighting fixtures and technologies, and some of the new products are lighter, sleeker and offer more flexibility - things like magnetic tracks for example. So one of the things we look  for in a lighting vendor is how upated and technically strong they are.

3. Controlled cost and service: This is very important because retail clients are generally wary of recurring costs. They are ready to make one-time investments, but they need assurance on quality and service. That’s why it’s important to work with trusted vendors . Also, most clients look for justifiable pricing, depending on their need, purpose, budgets and the category.  Two light fixtures might  look identical, but their prices can vary  drastically depending on the technology used in them and their final effect. 

So there  are many aspects to lighting and with every project we learn new things. But the important thing to remember is that the best lighting solution is a combination of brand credibility, technology and pricing. 

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