AWA Design Principal recently sat down with Home & Design Trends Magazine to talk about lighting, and how it is not merely a form of illumination but a tool for story telling.
The following is an except from the interview. CLICK HERE to download full PDF Article
You were initially pursuing architecture. What made you suddenly venture into light design?
As a young boy, I loved to create and had a knack for making things and that was the prime reason why I enrolled for architecture at the JJ School of Architecture in 1987. While I was in college, I was not a very focused student and was involved in organizing college shows and fests. There was this one particular students conference of architecture that I was organizing, Which had musicians coming and playing. Just before we were about to begin the man who was in-charge for the light and music needed some help and I volunteered to help him out to set the stage. So I climbed up on the catwalk and was setting up the lights and the moment I finished and the lights went on, I knew I wanted to venture into light design. In those few seconds I knew this is what I wanted to do. It was almost like an instant realization. Now when I look back, I still get goose bumps because I did not realize I was going to stick with it for this long but even back then I knew that I loved it.
What would you call as the turning point in your career?
The turning point would have to be my time at the Lighting Research Center at RPI in upstate New York. I moved to it after my time at University of Southern California. I had one year at USC and that was fun but this was real, a serious boot camp and I was working as a research assistant for my stipend and I was doing an unfunded thesis that was published in technical papers. This is what I wanted to do, I wanted to learn light design right down to the last bit, so that I could really craft it. Mark Rea, the director of my centre who is still a great friend, told me something very special once I finished the programme. He said, “When you came in, you were all over the place and we straightened you out.” Frankly, I don’t disagree with that. I was all over the place. They channelized me. From being a crazy kid who was doing everything, they straightened me out and I have no problem in accepting that because he was and still is one of the best vision scientists in the world. He once said, “If you are a good scientist then you need to design and if you are a good designer you need to know how the technical stuff works. You see that realization, left side, right side of the brain, that’s rubbish. I think both sides of the brain have to work with what I do. In architecture also it’s not about one side of the brain, the left side of the brain. If you’re really creating architecture, you can’t really do it without knowing the technical side. So in that it’s kind of bauhausian, like the Bauhaus School, that you need to know your craft. I have always been fascinated by the German and Japanese system of being apprentices in order to learn your craft.
What parameters do you take into consideration while executing your light design?
When I look at a space one of the first few things one would take into consideration would be of how one would approach it, where the poetry lies, where is the emotional connect and where is the science. Functionality is another important aspect. Also there needs to be a connect with the architecture and how to augment the light with it. So after the initial analysis, we start looking at is the focal points of a project. Light is not merely an illumination. It is a storytelling and an illustrative medium.
– Interview with Kamna Malik