Architectural Lighting

“It’s all about evoking emotion”

Suneel Sharma

I trained as a site engineer and first became involved in lighting design six years ago when I joined at the sound & light show at todays UNESCO’s world heritage monument Amber Fort & Palace in Jaipur Rajasthan,” explains Suneel Sharma, a lighting designer based in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The fusion of light and sound was very simple and effective to impress anyone. I was really excited to see a building alive with the mediums used. I have been involved with a number of sound and light shows as well. Now I work as a lighting designer and an interior designer in Jaipur. My current work is in interiors, architecture and urban redevelopment, and I’ve also done interiors for residences, offices, showrooms and many other institutes.

With a multidisciplinary approach, we use light, color, texture, material to create an experience. What’s most important is the quality of the space, the emotion or feeling it evokes. I try to build an experience and catch the viewer’s attention with my creation - if I’m able to do that, I feel I’ve succeeded.

So how do you create the different kinds of emotion?

The most criticalis to understand the logic of visual perception. That’s the syntax and light then becomes the language, a universal language. It either enhances memory and associations, or it can be used to defy them to create something new. That’s where the trick lies – deciphering where to apply what.

Colours & texture help draw attention to things - as soon as I see a lot of texture I see a lot of contrast. And high contrast draws the eye towards it.

Are different colors associated with different moods?

Of course. There’s definitely a connection between light and emotion – the way light changes throughout the day affects our mood. Some of these associations are generic, and sometimes there is a bias, like red means hot and danger, green is life or nature, blue is cold and distant, yellow is more neutral. These are cultural associations that have been passed on to us through generations. Movies, art and other images all affect our interpretation.

I tend to use red, amber, blue, deep amber and orange a lot and, depending on the material being lit. I love using lavender, but my favorite is warm white. It reveals the true nature of the material. I love the shadows you get with it. But the choice of color always depends on the desired effect, mood or symbolic projection, along with the material properties of the surface.

How do you approach a lighting project?

The most important thing is to carefully listen and understand the client brief. I then think about it and – based on my intuition – give my advice. The client may want color to make it playful, and although I rarely think color is necessary, I know people react to color in different ways. But there are so many other variables you can use to create the desired effect. I always discuss the options and that is how the design evolves.

In the end, though, a project is not just about lighting: what's most important is to create an experience. I like to constantly create an experience, because it is about living every moment - It could be as simple as finding pleasure in the moon and the stars. I want to move the client, give them something to remember, even if it is only for a few moments.

Which kinds of lighting project do you approach?

We are specialized in this field and do façade lighting of any building type, interior lighting of showrooms, residential / commercial projects, offices, auditoriums, heritage monuments and many other buildings.

What are the key trends and changes you’ve seen in recent years?

The most evident change, technologically, in the last five years is the use of LEDs. Though we still have a long way to go, LEDs are surely becoming a very useful tool for designers.

And sustainability – its awareness has been growing and has recently gained great momentum. Integration of day-lighting and energy sensitive design has today become really important.

Talking specifically about India, finally the role of lighting and lighting designers is being acknowledged. Clients are starting to understand that good-quality lighting is not just a matter of positioning a source, it’s more about the effect, ambience or mood the lighting creates and how it interacts with its users. It’s no longer just about buying a nice looking luminaire; it’s the quality of light and the space that counts. And that’s how it should be. Now I see a conscious attempt at integrating lighting with architecture in a more holistic and integral manner.

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