It’s not lighting designers’ market, but everything goes this way
Walking along Moscow in evening, hardly anyone thinks that lighting designers working in lighting bureaus are involved in street lighting. Meanwhile, this is an entire industry, gaining momentum in our country. Moscow.Business asked Alexey Burykin founder of QPRO what he knows about the lighting business. The designers of this company develop lighting projects for offices, museums, restaurants, as well as urban public spaces. There is no doubt that the ubiquity of the Internet, social networks and mobile applications is fundamentally changing people’s views on what architecture should be, introducing fundamentally new requirements to shaping, materiality, functionality, adaptability and, finally, photogenicity.
– What has changed in this business since the moment you came to?
– I came to this area immediately after graduation, in 2005. 15 years ago, the market, the environment, the city they were different. That days it was a market for sellers, but now I can’t say that it is already a market for lighting designers, but it goes this way. Previously, most market participants were primarily involved in sales and distribution, and design was secondary thing. That days it was impossible to do design at all, because there was no culture to pay for a lighting design project: even if the payment did happen, it was very seldom and had a low price. In the late 90s, access to European equipment appeared on the market and the lighting culture from Europe made responsible market participants more consciously approach their profession. Now companies not only supply with lighting equipment, but also look for the most optimal solutions in terms of technology and economics. The trend has been steadily showing over the past five years: design and delivery have become inseparable and appeared intelligent product. Another big turn for the development of the market 7–8 years ago was the transition from traditional light sources (incandescent, fluorescent and gas discharge lamps) to LED sources, which helped to reduce energy costs, and also made lighting control systems more flexible.
– How these changes did affect the work of your company?
– They have become the main indicator for the transformation of our company. We are engaged in design and delivery, what contract distribution is. We start from the design stage. And only then strive to conclude a contract for the equipment supply. If customers already have a contractor that performs this work, then we take on the function of installation supervision and equipment adjustment, otherwise we carry out the installation ourselves.
– What difficulties will an entrepreneur who has founded a lighting bureau in Russia have to face?
– I would determine two problems. One of them is applicable to any business, not only in lighting. This is a matter of human relations. Business – it is always people: both related partners and company employees. Each person is unique. And the most important thing is to find a way to reach an agreement. We operate in a country in which a culture of communication is not always respectful to market participants. In addition, construction is not the easiest field of activity, probably not only in Russia, but also in the world. Our project can be implemented without taking into account project documentation: the creative core of a Russian person leads to the fact that sometimes every participant in the process believes that he is an artist. Another difficulty lies in the specifics of the market – it is at the formation stage, and often we, as lighting designers, have an educational function, explaining to the customer what “good” light is. Correct and high-quality light is invisible, so people notice only a “bad” light when the eye begins to ache and pulsate from discomfort. But when you explain to the customer that you are going to create a quality decision, you do not always, but often have to explain, for example, why you need a microprismatic diffuser, which creates a more comfortable light distribution, unlike a conventional opal diffuser, what is a light control system or biodynamic lighting.
– Does the modern Russian lighting market comply with global trends?
– Aesthetics, European trends – we adopted all this. Вut the level of awareness of the overall design and coordination of projects is still at a low level. This leads to the fact that the lighting of streets and houses in our country looks rather chaotic. Often the owner of a hotel or shopping center, who is faced with the task of attracting customers, says that he wants lighting brighter than that one of the neighboring building. It turns out that someone wants it to be brighter, and the other – even more brighter. If such techniques are used massively, then light cacophony is obtained.
– How are these problems solved in Europe?
– Most of the Scandinavian countries have a document describing a master plan for city lighting. This is a strategic document that describes the strategy for changing the urban environment in terms of coverage for 10–15 years in advance – how all types of lighting devices will be connected: architectural, landscape, utilitarian functional lighting, advertising, festive, seasonal. There are instructions on what types of devices or what color temperature it would be ideal to illuminate, for example, the facades on this street and how they are consistent with the lighting of pedestrian areas and carriageways, advertising signs and holiday installations. It is necessary for the formation of a high-quality urban environment in order not to be in some lighting chaos, which we still see in present Moscow. The problem of light pollution in Europe has long been actively solved, guided by the postulate that light is needed where it is needed.