Award Winning Nitika Agrawal Launches Light Dew Award Winning Nitika Agrawal Launches Light Dew
Lighting Designer Nitika Agrawal talks to Trends in Lighting about her newly launched venture Light Dew. Following her experience in the lighting industry with... Award Winning Nitika Agrawal Launches Light Dew

Lighting Designer Nitika Agrawal talks to Trends in Lighting about her newly launched venture Light Dew.

Following her experience in the lighting industry with AECOM, one of biggest multinational building engineering and construction firms worldwide, and global lighting manufacturer, Zumtobel Group, Nitika Agrawal talks to us about the challenges and opportunities ahead with the launch of her own practice.

Soleil, designed by Nitika Agrawal for the Spark Awards

 

TiL: Can you tell our readers about your journey into design and your achievements before creating Light Dew?

NA:  Early in my life, at the age of 5, I discovered my passion for art and design and would engage myself with complex hand drawings and artwork inspired by nature. During my summer holidays in India I would attend art workshops and learn tools like writing in calligraphy, oil painting or 3D model making with sola wood to enhance the way I communicate design. My mother introduced me to design and had been a great mentor and inspiration to me. I learnt to respond to empathy and people’s emotions and translated it into my work, which helped me win awards at regional and German national level, for example a Unicef award, not for my design but poetry. Later in my life, I decided to translate my artistic and science skills into a profession that would resonate with my passion. I studied Architectural Engineering from TU Kaiserlautern in Germany, which I found too technical and less design oriented. I took a transfer to London and continued my studies in Interior Architecture and Design at London Metropolitan University with a focus on spatial design development and design thinking. As an interior architect, I always believed that light plays a vital role in the way we perceive spaces: “End to Darkness is where Light begins,” which encouraged me to undertake a Master’s of Science in Light and Lighting from the Bartlett at UCL. I never knew that a lighting industry existed as such and it just happened to me.

Soon after I finished my studies at the Bartlett, I started to work for AECOM as a lighting consultant, where I had the chance to work in a competitive environment and develop in depth lighting practice knowledge. I specialised in commercial, residential, hospitality, masterplan, street, heritage, and healthcare lighting. On international level, I worked closely with architects and other building engineers that helped me to establish a broad knowledge of sustainability standards like BREEAM, LEED, SKA, ESTIDAMA, Well Standard, etc. essential for the improvement of human life quality and reduction of carbon footprint. In my spare time, I have worked on research and have presented my papers at various lighting conferences like PLDC, LFI and Lux Live, internationally. I developed confidence in my ability to design and communicate light when I first won the Spark’s Luminaire Design Award for the design of Soleil, a children’s healthcare fitting, in 2015. In 2017, I was awarded as one of “40 under 40” most talented lighting designers in the world at the Lighting Design Awards in London. In 2018, I received a WICE Award for being among the top 8 best construction and engineering consultants in Europe. I see the WICE Award as one of my greatest achievements till date, as considering the consultant category is one of the toughest to win with over 200 applications. WICE has helped me to establish an image of a professional female role model in the lighting society and the society of building engineering. Moreover, it has given me recognition for my extracurricular activities like volunteering, promotion of STEM professions among architecture students, excellence in sports and education.  The organisation also prides itself on using diversity is one of their main selection criteria.

To gain an overall understanding of the lighting industry, I joined Zumtobel Group in Munich and managed lighting projects in Bavaria, Germany. I developed technical knowledge of lighting products and understood the collaboration between a lighting manufacturer and a lighting designer better.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise HQ London. Lighting Design lead Nitika Agrawal. Images and lighting design courtesy of AECOM. Contractor, Overbury

 

TiL:  What inspired you to make the leap and set up your own brand?

NA: I have always had a dream to have my own practice. I just waited for the right time when I would feel confident enough to establish it.

TiL:  What is at the heart of the Light Dew brand?

NA:  Light Dew focuses on the emotional and psychological lighting requirements of the client. The lighting solution is a combination of aesthetics, design, function, sustainability and technical design resolution.

TiL: Where do you draw the greatest inspiration from for your work?

NA: “Lucis natura est et natura perfecta est!” – Light is nature and nature is flawless. I draw my inspiration for work from our mother nature.

TiL: What do you think independent services can offer over and above larger corporations?

NA: The flexibility to take projects of any size. Services can also be cheaper as they don’t have large overhead costs.  Flexible working hours and more flexible travel opportunities.  I feel special attention and care to detail can be given to each project, because you are able to choose the projects you want to work on and decide on the workload.  Working on projects you are passionate about achieves better results in overall design resolution.

TiL: How is the current environment affecting lighting design?

NA: Depending on which country we are talking about, Covid 19 has affected the lighting design industry in different ways. In general, some companies don’t have enough work and had to make some of their employees redundant, some companies had decided to cut down the salaries of their employees, some had remained unaffected, some companies had even more work than before. As I have had a mixed feedback from lighting designers within my international network, it is difficult to draw a concrete conclusion.

TiL: Can you share any tips from your lockdown experience and how you got through it?

NA: I used my time during the lockdown to extend my knowledge in areas like business studies, software development and various lighting software tools. Many lighting conferences globally were held online, which allowed me to attend them without spending any time to travel to other countries. I used my time wisely to extend my knowledge by online self-studies and maintaining my social network, which allowed me to get through it.

TiL:  What advice would you give to a lighting designer considering setting up independently?

NA: In general, before you set up your own independent lighting practice, you need to be confident in yourself and have an extended knowledge of lighting design and the lighting industry. You need to be prepared to answer any lighting related questions, your client may ask you, and provide the right solution. You have to be an extrovert to maintain a relationship with clients. You may have to work harder, most of the time on weekends too, to get the initial projects. You need to have a structured business plan and outline the risks involved and look at the financial investments. You have to be confident about your goals and have a clear vision for the growth of your company in the future.

About

Nitika Agrawal is an award-winning Lighting Designer with a diverse international background.  One of her accolades includes being a 2018 finalist as WICE’s best woman consultant in Europe.  She is an experienced professional lighting design consultant formerly at AECOM, adept at delivering international projects, across the UK, Middle East, Russia, Africa, Germany and India. Her lighting expertise includes; Retail, Landscape, Masterplans, Hospitals, Roadways, Offices, Hospitality and Residential.  Sustainable building, health and wellbeing is at the heart of her recently launched brand providing bespoke solutions, Light Dew.  Her experience in sustainability accreditation including BREEAM, SKA, ASHRAE, LEED ensures projects achieve the highest ratings. One of her luminaire designs won a national Spark’s charity award in 2017. She is known as an international speaker and has delivered numerous presentations across the globe

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