Let there be light
My childhood and school.
Most of my childhood was spent in Porvorim, Goa and it was always an early morning rise to go to school to Panjim. This was further compounded by the collapse of the then Mandovi bridge which further added another half an hour to the journey. It was a time spent in making new friends and interacting with the existing ones. Life was not easy, but it never affected my positive approach and an inborn confidence that all would ultimately fall into place. I was brought up with good values and belief in patience as a virtue. I have seen my parents work very hard and selflessly to give us a better life, in an honest manner. That has always been a very strong influence.
After completion of the B.Arch degree at the Goa College of Architecture, I started my Architectural practice in Porvorim, after a brief training period with Arch. Manohar Khavtay and Arch. Ashley Mascarenhas. I would take up architectural works and interior design works. The beginning was difficult and there were times when no work was on the table for a month and yet the office rent had to be paid. The practice grew slowly and I employed two draughtsmen. That wasn’t enough. I wanted to enhance my knowledge and make myself capable enough to get into bigger projects. That was one determinant- to study Architectural Lighting Design. After completing my Masters Degree, I set up Office in Mumbai with the help of a friend. It was a tough time away from my family and I was back to being a one-man office. I was responsible for design and drawings and the business development as also for the more mundane aspects of writing invoices, maintaining correspondence and the other aspects that need to make a professional office run. Projects started coming in after initial suspicion of my abilities. I even had to face utter ridicule as the prospective clients could not understand what value I was bringing to the table. In absence of a professional ‘godfather’, it was left to me to chart my way through unexplored territory. But all that changed one day when fate presented to me the Akshardham Temple Complex project in my fold. It was divine intervention and a sign that I was on the right path.
Lighting as an area of expertise
In my view, lighting helps one to articulate spaces and aid visual perception of architecture. I had always wondered on seeing reference images from great architecture and the lighting in the same as to how such rendering of space was possible, given my very minimal knowledge of lighting. The choice was made and I took up the two year Master’s Degree in Architectural Lighting Design at Hochschule Wismar, Germany, to help me better my skills in architecture.
The Leap of Faith
It was a self-made decision, one that I alone, researched on. And there was no guidance on that front from anybody. There was a lot of doubt expressed, on the appropriateness and the pragmatism of the choice of study and the timing in my career at which I was leaving a gradually growing practice to follow my calling.
Lighting industry in Goa
The lighting industry in Goa is proportional to the scale of projects in Goa. Hospitality resorts and hotels are the few projects in Goa which receive professional lighting services. This is now changing with the scale of developments and quality of projects growing in Goa. Other than that, there was the Government initiative to light a few public buildings. However, the manner in which it is done is obviously without proper guidance and understanding of the subject. The Goan lighting industry has a long way to go.
The International Lighting Seminar
The awareness of the field of architectural lighting is very minimal, even with building industry professionals. The first edition of ‘Lights In Goa’ was successfully conducted in March 2010 at Goa with participation from all over India and abroad. This seminar shall be followed by International Lighting Workshops in March 2011, in Association with PLDA (Professional Lighting Designers Association, Germany) for the first time ever outside Europe. This will be in Panjim, Goa.
Some of my projects
The most notable and award winning job was the 93 Acre Lighting Master plan for the Akshardham Temple, New Delhi. We have completed a Marriott Courtyard in Mumbai as well as worked on the Taj Vivanta at Panjim and the refurbishing of the Goa Marriott Resort at Miramar. The Heritage Metro Cinema in Mumbai was completed by us in 2006. We have designed retail outlets for Benetton, Levis, Bvlgari etc. in Italy and Eastern Europe as well as car showrooms for Fiat, Peugeot, Volkswagen, and Ferrari in Italy.
Currently working on
A few shopping malls including the largest one in the country. Hospitality projects from Marriott, Accor, Starwood Resorts, and Radisson are on the drawing boards.
Awards and accolades
The PLDR (Professional Lighting Design Recognition) Award for the ‘Best new comer’ in the industry, Awarded at the Professional Lighting Designers Conference, London in Oct. 2007. The IESNA Paul Waterbury Award of excellence for the “Akshardham Temple Complex” New Delhi, awarded at St. Louis, Missouri, USA, Nov. 2007