Internationally renowned lighting designer, Martin Klaasen, speaks about his venture, the ups and downs of lighting industry and upcoming trends.
Over the span of his three-decade career, Martin Klaasen, an award-winning lighting designer, design consultant, lecturer and resource speaker, has gathered several achievements to his credit. You will see his work on the celebrated Petrona Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the Shangri-la Hotels based in Singapore, China and Mumbai, the Grand Hyatt in Goa and the Bund in Shanghai.
He also authored the book Light Talk, which received significant appreciation from the industry.
Martin also manifests his passion for lighting through his company Klaasen Lighting Design (KLD). He is also passionate about sharing his knowledge and educating his clients about the intricacies of lighting.
Martin was recently in Bengaluru for the launch of two new divisions of Samaavesh - Velvet Space and Spotlight - started by entrepreneur Jyothi Jain. He answered Ruth Dsouza Prabhu´s questions about the lighting industry.
The lighting market witnessed a dip in 2014. What is the scenario like for 2015?
I operate across Asia, and India is an integrated part of it. When you talk economics, there are two parts - the economy of the country and the economics of scale in the lighting market, which include product and technological developments, what is available in the market and so on. As a lighting designer, I indeed experienced a slowdown in 2014 in terms of projects in India. But things are picking up now in 2015, no doubt due to the new and more stable government. There is a need for innovations and products to support our projects as this naturally opens up good opportunities for lighting designers to come up with new ideas and original concepts.
How is the lighting industry working towards more sustainable projects?
There is a big misunderstanding about the idea of sustainability. It is often mistaken as being only about energy saving. If we are talking about energy savings, I usually say to ´green´ consultants that we can do zero watts per sq meter but then you will not have any lighting! It is crucial that lighting design and sustainable actions are done with good reason. I can reduce the amount of lighting to save energy, but it is crucial to balance that with the need to provide a comfortable visual environment. Cutting costs is another aspect. Everybody wants to get the most for the least amount of money. As designers, we have to find the right balance. Home owners also have to look at what spendable income they have. Yes, you may save a bit of energy, but new technology can be expensive.
What are the trends in lighting large scale projects keeping in mind sustainability?
LED is largely a software technology, which makes it suitable for interactive and wireless applications. Li-Fi (lighting based Wi-Fi) is the next level of LED lighting technology where lights are used for communication. Commercial retail applications have started using Li-Fi to interact with shoppers´ mobile phones, sending messages or highlighting promotional products on display, telling them where to find it and giving details of sales. Smart technology is also allowing lighting to be sensor-driven. It is stuff like this that is becoming the next big thing.
LED, though expensive, is trending. How can we make it more affordable?
That will come naturally with time as it is a new technology. With more usage the economics of scale will be established and prices will come down automatically. Currently, the price of LED is decreasing by around 10% a year.
What is also contributing to this is a whole new breed of lighting manufacturers. While LED is a lighting technology, it evolved out of the semi-conductor technology. Contrary to the traditional lighting manufacturers, with their existing machinery and their high overheads, new players from the semi-conductor industry have relatively low overheads and can be more competitive.
This has resulted in cut-throat competition in the market. As a designer, I can now find a reasonably good quality LED light by one of the new players at much lesser price. However, these new players have yet to establish themselves as quality manufacturers.
LEDs are today being used in art installations, too. Is this a growing trend?
LED lights are compact and you can integrate them into materials and objects and control them with smart technology, which makes it a very interesting prospect to introduce into art works. Many artists have used LED technology to enhance or create a unique artwork.
Which are the upcoming trends?
As a lighting designer what I look forward to is a higher understanding among the general public of the benefits of better lighting and how it can enhance your quality of life. When I meet my clients, I educate them on the benefits of good quality lighting and the potential pitfalls that come along in lighting designs. I look forward to better education and understanding of lighting in general, and lighting design in particular.
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Meet the designer
Firm: Klaasen Lighting Design. Number of years in the field: 35 years. Firm specialization: Architectural and Specialist lighting design consultancy. Design philosophy: ´We design for people, not for lux metre!´ Philosophy towards life: Go with the flow.
Favourite architect/Designer: ´I do not have a specific favorite lighting designer but like to think that I have assimilated my knowledge from many others before me and have over the years created my own brand of lighting design.´