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Interview with Tobias Grau

The Stylish Headquarters of Tobias Grau’s Company in Hamburg
Ingo Schaer
Written by Ingo Schaer

FULL SPEED AHEAD – TOWARDS LED DESIGN

Looking ahead and staying true to his principles – the Hamburg designer Tobias Grau has designed his innovative lighting with Hanseatic composure under this motto for 25 years.

The Germany based lighting producer Tobias Grau is now counted among the most successful and well-known lighting companies on the market.  What’s the main reason behind your success story?

TG: We always try to think ahead and look forwards and we’re on a kind of journey with many twists and turns, which sometimes makes you throw a few ideas away, but it’s important to stay true to your principles. With our new range of switches, we stay faithful to our principals, although we haven’t designed any classic lighting. Our motto is: The best quality, made in Germany.

The Stylish Headquarters of Tobias Grau’s Company in Hamburg

The Stylish Headquarters of Tobias Grau’s Company in Hamburg

The architecture of your company buildings is very stylishly and innovatively designed. Is this also part of the philosophy of the Tobias Grau Company?

It was necessary for the company building – like with a light – to achieve the best. In 1998, I got the idea for how the building would look and also wanted to do something innovative and futuristic; a holistic concept with transparent rooms for a pleasant working environment. This gave a clear brief for the architects. The building is the brainchild of the Hamburg architects Bothe Richter Teherani. At the time, and even today, it seems groundbreaking and very progressive – also with the photovoltaic façade – we led the way with this building.

Tobias Grau

Tobias Grau

Mr. Grau, you’ve been an interior décor designer and a furniture designer since 1984, but you also work with lighting. How did you get to working with lighting?

I had a little luck in this respect. I had actually started out as a designer of interior décor and did this – incidentally – I still do this nowadays, however, not for private customers. Even here in our office, almost all the furniture was designed by me. At that point, I then got contracts to design lights, and I built these the first times. That kindled my passion for lighting design.

What fascinates you about lighting design?

There’s so much innovation in lighting, for example, in halogen technology alone. With furniture, you find fewer technical innovations – design plays a pivotal role. With lighting, both play a role – design and innovation – and that’s fascinating. With light, you always get something new, so you mustn’t repeat your work. Of course, in residential lighting, the design, the beauty, and the sensuousness are crucial. Aside from that, I’m fascinated by the “cultural links” of the lighting. Artificial light is still relatively new, if you consider that the bulb has only been around about 100 years.

At Light+Building 2010, you presented many new LED lights, for example “Falling in Love”, “Bill LED”, or the office lighting range “XT-A LED”. What’s user acceptance like for your LED lights? 

Falling in Love

Falling in Love

Bill LED

Bill LED

XT-A LED

XT-A LED

There are always two groups of users – the ones that take to a subject straight away, these being the customers looking for the newest, the most innovative (lighting). And then there are the users that want to wait and see how the technology develops in future. We explain to our customers that there is now also “good” LED light, because there is definitely such thing as “bad” LED light. And then we tell our customers the advantages of LED lighting, like energy efficiency and the long lifespan, for example. At the same time, people can’t differentiate between our LED lights and the warm light of a halogen lamp. We as a company broach the subject of LED lighting, which wins us greater acceptance.

What tips would you give customers in general for buying lighting, as well as for LED lights in particular? 

Install lamps with the minimum wattage and dimmer functions, because you can save a lot of power this way, and dimmed light makes for a feel-good atmosphere also. With LED lights, you should ask the vendor two questions: Firstly, what color rendering does the LED have? A CRI value of over 90 should be perfect (editor’s note: CRI stands for Color Rendering Index and describes how brilliant the light is in its effect – sunlight is considered optimal with a CRI of 100). Secondly: What color is the LED? My answer would be: approx. 3,000 Kelvin (editor’s note: Kelvin/K is the unit for temperature and light color). Before you buy yourself a new light, you should ask beforehand, where do you want to put the light – in which zone in a room? Do I want a spotlight, indirect lighting, or a ceiling or wall light? It’s also important that the light shouldn’t be the brightest point, but rather the surface onto which the light shines. So: Always work out why you need a light before you go into the shop.

Shop all Tobias Grau Lighting >>

Source – LW Magazin

About the author

Ingo Schaer

Ingo Schaer

Ingo has been in the lighting business for over 20 years. He regularly blogs about trends and tips in the industry while running one of the most complete contemporary lighting ecommerce sites on the net. Please take a moment to browse his website and feel free to contact Ingo for all your lighting needs.

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