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Wanna a designer light? Pay Rs 6 lakh

Kishore Singh in New Delhi | March 19, 2005

They're decorative, but not ornamental, and they cost a packet.

Statutory warning: Reading this piece is going to burn a hole in your pocket. Seriously, if you're in the market for lights but are looking for bargains, you'd be better off shopping for them in the unorganised, non-branded market (in Delhi, Bhagirath Place for wholesale rates and Khan Market for more upmarket prices for the same lights).

But if you take lights and lighting technology seriously, you might want to choose from the branded ranges brought in from overseas.

If so, one good place to have in your sights is the Vis-a-vis office (Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore) because it represents one of the most comprehensive lighting solutions for a variety of projects - from the decorative to the architectural and encompassing large residences, offices, hotels, museums, malls and other commercial projects.

However, Vis-a-vis represents some of the biggest brands in Europe, which in turn have worked with the most respectable product designers, and therefore the lights tend to be pricey. If you're the kind who's squeamish about prices, now is the time to stop reading.

For those hardened against bargains, here's a little history. Vis-a-vis, which has a tie-up for distributing Alessi home and office accessories in the Indian market, tied up with Italian lighting brand Flos in 2003.

Soon after, Flos bought over the Spanish lights company Antares and added its products to its portfolio. Vis-a-vis, therefore, came to represent both Flos and Antares in the decorative lights segment.

Soon thereafter, it tied-up with German technical and architectural lighting company Erco, and has recently launched the Danish (and the world's oldest) lighting company Louis Poulsen in India.

"None of these brands," explains Vis-a-vis's Amit Gupta, "compete with each other." In fact, the company has taken architects and lighting designers on board to help it design lighting solutions using its products for commissioned projects in the country.

While their portfolios are quite extensive, we decided to check some of the signature or characteristic lights from each of these companies, beginning with Louis Poulsen, which was introduced to India just this week.

As a part of the deal, Gupta has agreed to sell 20 of the company's signature Artichoke lights, each of them signed (and numbered) by the company's founder and principal designer, Poul Henningsen.

The Artichoke light was created by Henningsen in 1957 for a restaurant, and has gone on to become an icon. The shielded light source comes in four sizes and in surfaces of brushed copper, brushed stainless steel and white paint.

However, the signed pieces are only in the largest sizes, and 10 each are on offer for collectors in India in copper and steel.

"In all, there are 3,000 signed limited editions in the world, of which 20 have been designated for India. We managed to sell four pieces on the day of the launch in Delhi, and there are other tentative bookings we hope to convert into sales," says Gupta. The price? Rs 5.2 lakh, plus taxes.

But the Artichoke faces tough competition from the Superarchimoon designed by Philippe Starck and part of the Flos catalogue.

The 2.14 m high floor light (with a width that's a little more) is ideal for your office or your study, but demands space, and provides a smooth, diffused light - all for Rs 4.5 lakh.

There are outdoor versions of the Superarchimoon for use on swimming pool decks or in gardens, available for Rs 6 lakh.

Okay, you're not in that kind of spending mood but still want a brand and a look that's distinctive. Maybe, then, you need to check out the Antares selection, and particularly its Beam F.

Also a floor light that is ideal for workstation areas with computers, it consists of a pole supported in a cast aluminium base, with the light source consisting of a honeycomb grid made from black polyamide.

The glare-free light creates, according to Gupta, "a phenomenal working environment". Designed by Antonio Citterio, it comes with a dimmer option and is priced at an affordable Rs 90,000.

Erco lights aren't decorative but are nevertheless used in high quality buildings, particularly when it comes to solutions for lighting structures without wastage in what the company terms "light pollution".

In essence, this indicates usage of luminaires in a way that no light escapes the architectural horizon to create blind spots in the sky.

Gupta says Erco's Skim Lens Wallwashers are ideal for lighting up a wall (for example in a chairman's office, a feature wall in a garden, or a hotel lobby) with zero glare, sans scallops or dark patches.

Usage of these luminaries is recommended at a height of 0.9 m, and on walls, luminaries are also placed 0.9 m apart. Since each such luminaire costs Rs 25,000, the size of the wall will determine the number of luminaires and the cost for wallwashing with light. A 6ft wall, for example, would require three such lights and would, therefore, cost Rs 75,000.

Of course, if you're a cheapskate, you could buy a lookalike, or even a copycat light from the grey market, but quality does count.

But if you've opted for the signed Artichoke, remember that there is always the possibility of secondary sales at a price higher than you will pay now - an incandescent thought to hold on to when you're signing for all those zeros on your cheque slip.

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Number of User Comments: 2

Sub: Wrong title, dude!

Wanna = Want + to ( in slang). Couldnt quite figure out what "wanna a designer light" means!! Good article, but incorrect title. ...

Posted by Sachin

Sub: Indeed

Do you realize that 99.99% of rediff news readers are not the ones who shop for Antares, either because they can't afford it or even ...

Posted by Bill


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