Sanjeev Nangia founded India’s first specialist lighting integration company prior being the co-founder of Design Matrix in 2005. He is a chartered engineer and is also a member of the Indian Institute of Engineers and of the Illuminating Engineering Society.
Q: What is Design Matrix all about?
Design Matrix is one of the oldest and largest specialist lighting design consultancy in India – we sometimes laugh that our story is, in fact, the history of architectural lighting design in India. In the initial days, India had always been ‘importing’ its lighting design consultants and mostly in the hospitality segment. And when we started, hotels were also our bread and butter. Today, nearly 15 years later, we have done projects from a luxury boutique store of 200 sq ft to lighting master planning for 200 acres and everything in between. We’ve won several domestic and international awards for our work and are, arguably the only ISO 9001:2015 certified lighting practice in the country.
But putting aside all the hard numbers, at Design Matrix, we take our professional reputation & responsibilities very seriously. We like to think that makes us accommodating, approachable, rewarding, flexible and fun to work with.
Q: While coming from different genres, how do you all manage to come on a same page?
I must confess that we don’t all always agree. I and Harmeet Issar founded this firm in 2005 – while I’m a marine engineer, Harmeet has studied electronics engineering. Nivedita joined us in 2008 and she is an architect by training and finally, Shovan who heads our product design vertical is an industrial designer. So at any given time, we are jumbling atleast 4 different perspectives and that we believe is our strength and it’s what makes us so unique and balanced.
Q: What according to you is a perfect lighting idea for interior décor?
Well, that’s a very hard question to answer – interiors vary greatly from one project type to another and from one style to another. To answer them all together is hardly possible. But we are a big fan of architectural lighting design that’s minimal, unobtrusive and only where it is required.
Q: How much essential it is to focus on lighting design in any décor?
I’ll answer this in a few powerful words by the famous artist, director, writer Aaron Rose – “In The Right Light, At The Right Time. Everything Is Extraordinary” !
Q: Let us know the core points considered for entertainment, heritage and commercial projects?
These 3 project types are designed for an anonymous faceless user. They, therefore, need to have a more universal appeal while still remaining highly targeted at the relevant audience.
PVR Director’s Cut will always be memorable – it was an award-winning project for us. The Heritage Transport Museum is a project where we came on board, when it was near completion and we make did with whatever planning and resources that were available – its been extremely well received. We did the lighting for the City Palace, Jaipur a few years ago – and the architecture is so beautiful all it needs is some technically correct lighting. We used a variation in color temperature to bring out the material finishes – my only brief to my team was that it needed to look like the rendering. We were also closely involved in the supervision of the install given its heritage value, and what you see as the end product is almost like the rendering came to life!
Q: Tell us about the approach you follow in international and domestic projects?
There is definitely a marked difference – for international projects there is always a lot of emphasis on design and planning and time and resources are budgeted accordingly. For projects in India we are very insistent that we must be continually involved through construction because no matter what you design and put on paper, the site is always a whole new reality.
From the ballroom lighting at Shangri-La, Surbaya, Indonesia, many years ago to the recently commissioned public area, façade, landscape lighting for the Sarovar Premier, Lusaka, Zambia – projects of vastly different magnitudes and their star rating define very different spends, but both came out beautifully with 1 and 3 visits respectively.
Q: After achieving so much success, what is your aim to accomplish?
It’s been a great journey and I don’t know when we got so old and big and I can say that about myself also.
We ‘re at a stage where we are having too much fun – there’s always something new happening and new experiments and testing if you drop into our office. We are excited about doing new and different things and our recent venture called ‘ Bespoke’ gives us exactly that – an opportunity to express and create, unbounded by briefings and others ideas of what should be. ‘anant’ at Le Meridien, Delhi and a just finishing large ceiling feature installation – The River for Goldman Sachs Head Office at Bengaluru.