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My Story: Strength, Spirituality & Light

 

With Index celebrating 30 years
of business this year, it seemed like a good idea to make the IFJ tradefair special commemorative of the iconic fair, and of the industry itself in a broad sense. We thought we’d like to tell the story of this chaotic, exciting and fascinating industry as uniquely as we could. So we turned, as we do, to our friends; the architects, designers and manufacturers who create the products, interiors and built forms, to tell us their story. This would in sum also be the story of the industry itself, told by its key stakeholders. The sum of individual losses become the troughs of an industry while the entirety of individual accomplishments push out the growth curve and chart a triumphal path for the industry at large. This, I expected, and was prepared for. What swept me off the mundane path of ‘the final edit’ was the passion that communicated itself through several of the essays. The passion was for better process, for improved structure and the desire to create something new and positive for the broad mass of the India we know exists, but have rare contact with: the rural populace, the blue collar commuter, the denizens of the vast expanses of shanties, the floating population. In short, the dream for something bigger than the hopes and aspirations of an individual. And it was this that kept me inspired in these days of pre-fair chaos to continue the fairly challenging task of ‘getting the job done’! My thanks and appreciation to those whose generosity with their ideas and thinking flood these pages; you are the inspiration. We are all the richer for the words you have shared.

 

MY STORY: STRENGTH, SPIRITUALITY AND LIGHT

It all started on the 5th of July 1979, the day that I first opened my eyes to see light. When I couldn’t make any sense of what was happening around me, the only thing that never left my side was the bright white light of the operation theatre. And since then that image of the bright light never left me. I was named Tejas which means bright light and that’s how my journey of light began. As a child, I was fascinated by toys with lights; dismantling and reassembling them, over and over. As I grew older, I became curious. I remember the day when I had fixed the power button of the television at home out of mere boredom. My parents were out and I dismantled the TV in awe and wonder.
My father set up my eldest brother with an electric company, and being fascinated by light, I used to help him with everything from presentations to selling switches. Soon, the company that he represented presented an Italian switch named Ave, which was very high end, but got little acceptance in Kolkata

Fortunately, in Gujarati and Marwari families, it’s a tradition to train kids in the family business. I too was trained to be a businessman but was never interested in mass market products, preferring niche products. I started interacting with architects and designers to comprehend their views and aesthetic values. One of them gave me a site in completion, while the lights were being installed. Interior designers then preferred MR16 12v 50 w halogens and the designer had placed them in rows and columns, and I felt that she had over done it but kept quiet as I was young and new. However, as she was unable to be present at the site and I was fixing the dimmers, when the client asked for my opinion, I honestly told him what I felt. Sensing my ingenuity, he gave me a chance. I rearranged the lighting and asked electricians to switch off the ones I didn’t want. I aimed them toward the wall where the art was to be displayed and showed them different scenes by dimming and switching off lights.
The client was impressed and asked me to start playing with light as a career. This is when my real journey began.
I researched the subject and studied lighting. I did my Masters in Fine Arts Lighting Design from Parsons, the new school of design, New York, but making people understand the value of lighting in India was a monumental challenge, I didn’t expect! When I approached architects or designers in 2004, they paid no attention. Residential clients too shunned the idea of a lighting designer, as customers only paid the architect and interiors designers. With each passing day and failure, I was demotivated. I started selling lighting fixtures to understand how it works in India. I began helping architects and interiors with planning for
projects, and got into automation to get hands- on experience. I started selling automation to high-end clients offering the designing for free. After 15 high-end residence projects, I flipped the concept. I started charging for the lighting design and offered them automation at cost or via the main distributor directly. Slowly and gradually, I started only designing. My hands-on experience with selling fixtures and automation helped, and I learned programming of lighting controls, AV controls, etc so that no integrator could deceive my clients.

strength from spirituality

I am a spiritual person and have been practicing meditation for the past 16 years and I knew the importance of darkness from the first day I started studying lighting design. My name Tejas itself means Light. I guess I was born to be a lighting designer ! All my projects have demonstrated a spiritual approach and have been human centric. I have always had a thirst for improvement and keep reinventing myself. The market has not been easy many designers from the UK, Singapore, Thailand and the USA are working in India, inspiring me to keep reinventing to carve my niche to give them tough competition. Light & Beyond and More! I was accredited as a Certified Lighting Designer, in 2016 and became India’s 1st, Asia’s 2nd and the 17th in the world ! These momentous acknowledgements propelled my work to prominence and developers who have been hiring international designers are now approaching us, as they now feel that we are on par with them. This March I was named Lighting Magazine, UK’s 40 under 40 hottest lighting designers in the world. This renowned program honors the new breed of tech-savvy, driven professionals and seeks to inspire a whole new generation of passionate to keep pushing the horizons. The inception of Light and Beyond has been an inspiring story as well. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2002 and winning against it, the idea of Light & Beyond was born, and my wife and I started the company in 2009. Before 2009, I had explored the market to learn the mindset of people & ways in which installations were done. I learnt that lighting is one of the most routine features of our homes, that we usually take it for granted and most of us live with the standard-issue, built-in lighting that comes with our abodes. They might have looked good or might have met the immediate needs of people. But were they really the right lights? That was a lingering question. Just as we weigh the style of furniture or the palette of colors we use in our homes, we must carefully weigh the way we light them. Lighting does far more than merely illuminate a room; it also sets the stage of every act that takes places in it.

“awareness is key”

Light & Beyond was born to spread awareness about good lighting design; to make people understand that less is more; to connect with nature. Our entire thinking process of designing lighting for a space is based on our spiritual inclinations because we are designing for humans and humans need to feel good when they see or enter any space. Good lighting is always felt before being noticed. My main goal is to light up lives through Light & Beyond. I have been taking workshops since 2015 & have spoken to over 975 students & over 1200 in IALD workshops.

many more miles to go!

I hope to publish some seminal research very soon. I am grateful that I was accredited with CLD, which has helped me carve a niche in my own, and the international market. Being named on the 40 under 40 list and being part of such an illustrious line-up of awardees, class of 2018, is humbling and gratifying but I feel way more enthused to touch people’s lives with the work that I do. With the passage of time the pressing challenges I’ve mentioned, have started waning and I see them dwindling into obscurity. This popular award will make more Indians wake up to this innovative and efficacious concept! Great
days ahead! ifj

This article was posted on May 3rd, 2018

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