In over 15 years of vis à vis India Pvt. Ltd. being in the lighting industry, it has created a niche for itself in the area of integrated lighting and lifestyle solutions. The company has been involved in projects in various segments such as residences, hospitality, infrastructure, retail, offices and museum & art galleries. Known for setting benchmarks, the company takes pride in having an unparalleled knowledge base and technological support from world-renowned lighting and design brands. Its latest venture in the online space lightandyou.com is yet again changing transactions around design by making it more affordable and reachable. In a casual discussion with LED World, Samta Nadeem, vis-à-vis, explained how the idea behind the company emerged and what all steps are they taking to add more value to the subject of lighting rather than just illumination.
Tell us about your brand and your journey so far.
In its original avatar in 1997, vis-à-vis was established as India’s first and only design and architecture gallery that conceptualized, curated and organized collaborations and shows along with retailing Indian designer’s products. Hardeep and Amit Gupta, the founders of vis a vis, realized that while there was immense talent in our home-grown designers from colleges like NID and NIFT, there was no one really promoting them or giving them a platform. These collaboration and shows were held at various levels, some were with British Council or various other embassies and rest with large corporates dedicated to the cause of design.
After a few years, we started bringing international designers to India through brands such as Alessi. These international associations introduced us the world of lighting with FLOS in 2003, ERCO and LOUIS POULSEN 2004, thence started our journey into the exciting world of light and lighting design.
More recently, through close interaction with designers, architects and various end users, we realised there was a prominent gap in the retail space for decorative lights. People today have a heightened sense of aesthetics and want the best of designs for their spaces but do they know where to go?
To address this need was born lightandyou.com – it is an ONLINE high street of world’s best-known lighting brands. The collection offers you some of the most iconic creations by venerated designers, while on the other hand presents a range of the latest trends and technology. While striving to make good design and original products extremely affordable, light&you also makes it just a few clicks away.
Why do you think lighting as a concept is so important? What all points do you keep in mind while doing a project?
Light is powerful tool, invisible and non-tactile, that can change perception and experiential quality of a space. We were certain from day one that light can’t be sold by ‘moving boxes’ but through conceptual applications.
We work closely with a lot of architects and interior designers, understand their vision for the space, the kind of materials they us and profile of the occupants before developing a customized solution fit for that particular project.
Technically, the tools we pick for each application have to ensure ‘Efficient Visual Comfort’ as a basic philosophy. The qualitative factors are more important than basic quantification of just lux levels and amount of light. The quality of light itself, the color temperature, the color rendition, the quality of shadows, all play an important role in providing the optimal experience to the user psychologically and physiologically.
For the first time in 2008, we created a state-of-the-art Experience Centre in Delhi to be able to demonstrate what good quality tools clubbed with creative lighting applications can do in a space. We conduct regular tours, with prior appointment, for professionals, students and enthusiasts at this center.
Which all brands do you have in your portfolio? Share details about some unique products launched by you.
For Architectural lighting, brands in our portfolio are ERCO from Germany, FLOS Architectural from Spain, Castaldi from Italy, Lucifer Lighting from USA, RobLight from Denmark and many more.
For decorative lighting, lightandyou.com is the only online destination in India that offers iconic and innovative products from leading Italian, British, French, Spanish, Scandinavian and Indian design brands. The international portfolio consists of over 25 brands including the likes of FLOS, Foscarini, Tom Dixon, Louis Poulsen, VIBIA, LEE Broom, Anglepoise, NEMO, FontanaArte, Bover, Marset, Slamp, Buster+Punch, B.lux etc.
How do you see competition in this field? Why would a customer choose expensive lights from your company when there are similar looking options available at lower cost?
vis a vis has always focussed on providing the right balance of well thought of creative solutions including various brands from our portfolio, offering a ‘solution cost’ that is qualitative, effective and leads to low cost of ownership in the long run. This approach is not easily to copy for others, while offers immense comfort to client.
While light&you is a relatively new and the only online space in India that offers products, technology, trends, stories and inspiration from global thought-leaders, brands and designers alike. Our endeavour was to bring the original designs from some of the most renowned brands and venerated designers at unmatched pricing to the Indian consumers. The range actually is not expensive at all considering you could today own an original lamp designed by the legendary Le Corbusier, produced by NEMO for Rs. 17,000/- on lightandyou.com
What challenges did you come across while launching light&you?
Having no precedence of a similar nature, we had to do a lot of research and ground work in terms of identifying the need and gaps and understanding our specifier base who along with the end-users could be sitting in any corner of the country. We did some hard number crunching to ensure that the prices offered by light&you to the Indian customers for these global brands are at par or lesser than what someone may procure from anywhere else in the world. Working at extremely competitive price points, we had to provide a seamless experience to our customers starting from making their selections on the online portal to delivery at their door steps.
Share details about some unique products launched by you.
We wanted to do something on Indian designs, and for that, we engaged with three design practices – Klove Studio, AKFD Studio from Jaipur, and Rooshad Shroff Studio from Mumbai to start a new line of products under ‘India Series’ at light&you. We want to create something that could flag INDIA on the global design map, but in a non-stereotypical and contemporary format. Ayush from AKFD did ‘Deepam’, which was inspired by traditional temple lamps but offers a CEMENT finish, while Klove picked up ‘Kathakali’ as their theme and created a set of table and pendant lamps that convey the robust emotions of the dance form but in an abstracted manner. Rooshad Shroff designed these carved ‘monolithic marble bulbs’. We are now on the verge of launching the second round of India Series for which we have tied up with a new set of four designers.
Our latest innovative feature is re-loved. An exciting idea to renew the look and feel of your space by just changing or ex-changing that one lamp in the room!
Which all sectors are you catering to?
For projects under vis a vis, we are largely doing residential spaces, from apartments to farmhouses, in various cities of the Indian subcontinent including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kathmandu, etc. We also do large-scale to boutique sized offices. We thoroughly enjoy lighting art and have done the top museums and art galleries of the country; from the Conservation Lab in Rashtrapati Bhawan to Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. We have taken up some projects in retail too, such as Lexus and BMW showrooms, Orra Jewelry Stores and many hi-end fashion boutiques like Leconet & Hemant. We don’t end up doing mass retail as this market is very cost conscious in India. We argue that in a retail spaces, the only thing that matters is the merchandise and the light to be able to attract, invite, orient and retain a customer however, lighting budgets seems to be the smallest.
Apart from the above, there was a time when we used to do a lot of projects in hospitality. Most Oberois and Tridents of the time procured quality lighting tools from us. However, over the last five years, the hospitality sector isn’t the same. Though with light&you platform, we cater to hospitality as every hotel or restaurant requires one stunning centerpiece in the reception and multiples of pendants, table lamps and floor lamps in the rooms.
How has the lighting scenario changed after the introduction of LEDs?
LED sources are becoming smaller, hence, less restrictive in allowing designers to experiment with various forms. From PCBs to linear flexible strips to O-LEDs, the light source has become miniature and flexible, that opens up a whole gamut of possibilities. The long life of the light source also allows for ease of maintenance.
Decorative lights are still largely non-integrated LED based, though the industry leaders are launching more designs that are developed around the innovative shapes of LEDs possible today.
LEDs were a huge game-changer when it came to architectural lighting, whether it is about size, dimming control or change of colour. It has allowed the brands to make the size of fixture smaller, with narrower appertures. The 6”-8” conventional lamp based luminaires have come down to 2”-4”. The much loved ‘pin spots’ are today just about 1” in dia. LEDs also gave the flexibility to play with form of things and created a huge portfolio of products in terms of shape. One can make the lighting layout look like a ‘feature’ in the interior design. One can integrate lighting into the furniture and cabinetry; light today can be integrated into everything, whether exterior or interior.