‘Serviceability of the lighting partner is most critical’
By Retail4Growth Bureau | April 22, 2022
Sankalp Sahu, Partner - 02JUNE Design Studios; and Siddhant Sahu, Founder & Retail Specialist, FEW STEPS AHEAD, share their insights on retail lighting in ‘Spotlight’ , the series presented by Retail4Growth in association with retail lighting solutions company Gardler.
To start with, what are your observations on client approach to lighting? Do you find it challenging to convince clients about the need to invest in the right kind of lighting for their stores?
Most clients we work with are open to suggestions, and don’t need too much convincing. The real challenge, we would say when it comes to lighting, is that the market does not offer enough to match the potential. The fact is that there is much more to retail lighting, than what is available in the market right now. So even if the client is open to the ideas we suggest, execution of these ideas can be a challenge. To give you an example, there was this project where we wanted to map the entire store with smart lighting. The idea was to enable product category mapping through lighting. But we could not execute it, not because there were no technologies available, but because it was challenging to match the right product vendor with the right integrator.
We must remember that it’s not just about the light fixture, but also about the amount of intelligence that goes into it. And that’s where the role of a lighting designer becomes very important. What we need are lighting designers who really understand retail, who can go beyond lux levels and look at the emotional play of lights.
What has been your own approach to lighting when it comes to your retail projects?
Over the years, with experience and through all our learnings, we have actually started playing that role of lighting designers ourselves, without any formal training in it. The thing is that the feel for the right kind of lighting in a retail space cannot be defined quantitatively or put down on paper; it’s about the emotion that we want to generate through lights. And we can confidently say that in all our projects, there was never any problem with lighting.
In retail, the acceptance of what works and what does not, when it comes to lighting, keeps oscillating. But over the years we have seen that brands in India have come to a better understanding and definition of who they are and what kind of emotions they want their stores to convey. Accordingly they define their choice of lighting.
An interesting project you can recall where lighting played an important role?
The Hamleys Play store that we did is a good example of how interaction with lights can really enhance the overall experience in a retail space. Here it was not just retail lights that we used, but also theatre lights. So the entire space was converted into a stage, wherein you could play with the lights and sounds, and merge the two together.
The idea was to create a garden like environment where kids could play. So when we started evaluating the project from the experiential point of view, we realised that the place had to change itself through the day and and that’s when we decided to use theatre lighting. For example, when there's a thunder effect, both the lights and the sounds merge to deliver the impact; the lights also change during festive occasions like Christmas. So this project is a very good example of how lighting can play a huge role in creating the right emotion. Thankfully the client was willing to understand it and is appreciative of it.
When it comes to creating the right of experience with lights in a store, the lighting partner makes a huge difference, right? Is it a challenge for you to find the right lighting partner/supplier?
Yes, the right lighting partner definitely makes a huge difference. When you have the right lighting partner, you get the right kind of lights, which helps you plan and deliver the right kind of experience. Today there are companies in India who are trying hard to deliver the right products. About 8 or 10 years ago, yes it was a challenge to get good lighting products. But now things are changing. Most companies that we have worked with in the past have changed gears and are trying to innovate to match today's retail requirements.
Do you have any parameters for selecting the right lighting partners or suppliers?
There are two aspects here, one is what we want as designers and the other is what the client wants. So while we as designers have our own wish list in terms of the aesthetics and the functionality, the client generally looks for the serviceability of the partner. We have in fact rejected partners, who have good products but who offer bad service. Service is important because the store should look good, not only during the first month, but also in the years to come. Most companies have similar products. But what is critical, end of the day, is the efficiency of the light and the kind of service provided
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