KOCHI: A few decades ago, electric lights were largely used to do away with darkness. Today the scenario has changed and lights have become an integral part of a booming industry, where they are now used mainly for decorations- to illuminate trees, sculptures, buildings, homes and streets.

At the two-day India Lights workshop organised by the Asian School of Architecture and Design Innovations (ASADI) which was held in Kochi, a first of its kind in Kerala, students and professionals set up light installations at several spots of the island, depicting the importance and aesthetics of light on structures. The plan of the workshop, according to ASADI chairman B R Ajith, was to create awareness on the possibility of lighting in Kerala.

Ranjith R Kartha, a lighting consultant based in Bangalore who gave classes for the students, says that the concept of lighting is changing in India. “Lights can even change the mood of people. Studies have proved that an office worker can be more productive if he is put in a well-illuminated room. Also, people are willing to pay more for the food served at a subtly and beautifully lit room. Natural light is definitely more effective, but artificial light is also doing wonders,” says Ranjith, who has worked with major light-related architectural designs across the world.
 According to Delies P Kolady, an architect who organised the event, lighting is an art and even has the ability to tell stories.

“Mood-based lighting is slowly becoming a fad. Restaurants, townships all use it. There is so much beauty involved in the art of lighting,” he adds.  As part of the workshop, students set up story-based installations including lighting the Koothambalam with subtly lit designs. Sculptures located at the island were also illuminated with different shades of light. They experimented with balconies as part of the workshop.

“The Koothambalam installation which was pepped up with light was meant to depict Kerala’s beauty on a grand scale. Next to it was a modern square installation also made up of lights. It was a deliberate attempt by the students to explain the mismatch of the East with the West,” she added. The two-day workshop intended to explain to the students how architecture can be enhanced with the use of light culture.
 “A house, once built, is there to stay. It will be difficult to redesign it. However, a tweak in the lighting can do wonders to the house,” said Ranjith.

So, in a country like India, where electricity is still not a luxury, will extensive use of lights be considered a wastage? “This is where light consultants like us come in. We ensure that optimum yet aesthetically lit designs are used,” he added.

If all goes well, there are plans to conduct a street light festival in Kochi.