Tejas Doshi, CLD, IALD, MIES, IDA
Co-founder and Chief Design Officer, Light and Beyond, Kolkata
dMr Doshi is the co-founder and Chief Design Officer of Light and Beyond, a lighting consulting firm based in Kolkata. With more than a decade of professional experience in lighting design, he has managed various types of small and large-scale projects in India, Austria , the United Arab Emirates and the United States. He is recognised as India’s 1st , Asia’s 2nd & World’s no. 17th Certified Lighting Designer. He pledges to spread lighting design awareness across the globe. He is a professional member of the International Association of Lighting Designers, member of Illuminating Engineering of Society (IES) and the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). He received a Master’s in Fine Arts degree from Parsons the New School for Design in New York, USA. Some of his big projects are International City centre 2 – Kolkata, Business Center- Surat, Fort Group Office -Kolkata, Astitva Residential Tower-Kolkata.
How big a role does a sustainable lighting design solution play to make a building green?
It plays a very big role because sustainable lighting design solution is not only about achieving the watts per sqmt. The idea is to optimize performance without losing quality. If a lighting designer is involved from the conceptual stage it would be much easier as he/she can help the Architect integrate lighting in such a way that it not only enhances the architecture, but also finds the perfect balance between sustainability and visual appeal. People often use very less light to achieve a green certificate and they don’t care about practically and functionality. Designs are made in a way to impress and functionality is ignored. In India , I feel lighting codes should be defined by a body of lighting designers and not by electrical consultants or by big lighting brands. It is a specialized field and hence qualified people must handle it like it is done in Europe & the USA.
At what stage of an architectural project should lighting designers roped in? What is the general international practice?
As early as possible. General international practice is to involve a lighting designer from the conceptual stage itself.
How easy or difficult is it for you to present your own lighting design concept and make it stand out over the Principal Architect’s design concept?
That’s a tricky question ! I think that through time most architects and interior designers have started accepting that they cannot do it all and the fact that they require specialized people. At the end of the day, our job is to enhance their work and match their vision.
When Architects make 3D presentations, they show lighting in night view but in reality most of them don’t know how to achieve it . In maximum cases a 3D animator puts global or linear lights simply by taking the concept from the internet. We need to understand that a professional designer would make sure the light that he/she is recommending is maintenance friendly. One has to be realistic and practical when designing lighting ,especially in India. This is the sole reason that most of our buildings designed by international lighting designers are not maintained. Developers use international designers to sell their projects but it doesn’t run in Indian market. International designer come with a brand name & local designer are expected to provide international services. They are ready to pay more to an international designer but not to a local lighting designer. This is the reason International Association Lighting Designers (IALD) Indian Chapter was formed so that we have quality designers who follow set standards and who are at par with International ones.
Also in our country if one designer has messed up a high end project then the entire design community takes the beating for it. In IALD India we have qualified designers who have years of experience.
You have mentioned that overexposure to artificial light is not good for us and that darkness is a natural condition. Can you elaborate more on this with respect to the present scenario of our cities, the light pollution and its psychological impact?
Darkness is a natural condition that we should probably think about in the same way that we think about landscape within the city. We don’t know the real night, the way it was experienced before electricity due to light pollution. This is because of excessive street lights, wrong fixtures types, wrong facade lighting, light trespass, billboards, large LED screens, signage etc.
This over-exposure of light surely disturbs the animal kingdom be it birds or any nocturnal animals etc but it is affecting us as well. Around 1 billion birds are dying just in North America every year because of light pollution. There are many complex components related to light over-exposure, but one factor that is comes up repeatedly is melatonin. Too much night-time light equals too little melatonin levels.
It affects one hormone which might not seem like too big of a loss, but research has consistently proven that low melatonin levels are incredibly detrimental with sweeping health effects across the body.
Melatonin triggers the feeling of sleepiness and is released when it gets dark, with levels peaking at around 2 AM. Melatonin affects a whole host of bodily processes including metabolism and immune function. There is laundry list of diseases like breast and prostate cancers, obesity, type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, insulin resistance, poor metabolism and heart attacks caused due to improper sleeping habits.
However smart phones and tablets also cause light pollution apart from light fixtures. People use these devices in their beds at night. Their screens emit a blue light similar to daylight which send signals to the brain to stop secretion of melatonin, telling us to wake up and makes us feel fresh. How many us have checked Facebook, emails when we are little sleepy and suddenly we don’t realize that we have spent two-three hours surfing. Apple has accepted this fact and added a feature know as night shift so it turns your phone screen to a warmer tone but one should know that this is not the solution to the problem.
One of the law of nature is that opposite values are complimentary in life. And you only value Light when you have experienced darkness. Light represents activity and darkness represents rest. Both are equally important and complimentary. More light leads to hyperactivity of the mind leading to mental disorders. And we have to create darkness to have deep rest. On the other hand if the light source is not proper or too dim during the day, we cannot work to our optimum. Now it’s up to us how to balance light and darkness in our homes and work area .
As in nature, day and night are in equal proportions and there is a balance. But there are places like Norway where its day for six months and night for six months. The imbalance of light is the cause of high rate of depression in the region. So far we have only given importance to light and lighting. I feel it’s high time now we should be brainstorming on how to utilize darkness. Too much light is eating up lot of resources. In nature after every 14 days there is a full moon which is bright light. And every 14 days we have no moon which is a fine and beautiful balance. We have to see how can we create this balance in our life and our society .
You have a keen interest in spreading light education and lighting design awareness. Why do you think it’s important to invest time in students, workshops, lectures etc.?
It is important because they are the future designers and if they learn the importance of lighting while they are learning interior design or architecture they would not take lighting for granted like most in the profession do. They will make sure they plan special budget for lighting. I conducted a workshop for around 100 students last year and this year my target is 5 times the number of students. I have always believed that the more you give the more you get. I have been able to change lives of 100 students and their families who now know the importance of darkness.
What is the technology (software, 3D visualization etc) that you use in your design process?
We use a lot of sketching as most of our sites demand customized solutions. We use light calculation software for 3D , Draftsight or Freecad for drafting , Photo editing softwares, Keynote , etc.
Tell us about one of your lighting design project that was remarkable in terms of the learning, challenges and the final outcome.
Every project of ours is challenging and offer a lot of learning. A project that we are currently working on is Eastern India’s first residential green building (gold rated). We were approached for facade lighting but we end up doing the entire project which includes the landscape.
The major challenge was the client’s budget which for a project greater than three acres was Rs 50 Lacs. If one wants to use quality fixtures, the amount was very less according to us. The second challenge was the client working with a lighting designer for the first time. We took it up the project and now the project consists 80 % customized fixtures designed by us and manufactured in India with Nichia CRI 90+ LEDs and with custom optics by American and Europe based brands. We have been able to save around Rs 12 Lacs of the original budget.
Since I am member of the International Dark Sky Association, I made sure fixtures are designed keeping in with IDA Standards without compromising on the quality. The idea is to camouflage fixtures so that all fixtures match the color of the building or are integrated within the design. The total load calculated for the landscape lighting was upto 8000 watts which is 0.006 watts per sqft. And this incredible figure was achieved without losing quality and visual comfort.
What is the difference in the lighting design scenario in India versus the international scenario?
Lighting designers are involved by default in international markets because by now all of them have realized the importance of using a lighting designer in a project. We are working on many projects in the UAE and Europe we see the difference in approach. Lighting Designers are equal to the Principal Designer. We can educate the customer provided they want to learn. In India people are not willing to pay fees for a lighting designer. However they are ready to pay vendors who claim to provide free designing but end up selling more fixtures than required. Also people expect Architects or Interior designers to do everything because they are paying them certain fees. International markets have specialized people for everything from glass, facade, art, lighting, electrical works, network to even bathroom consultants.
I wish developers, Architects and interior designers start involving lighting designers in all their projects. All IALD members are bound to provide good services by default so they can choose from IALD members in India.