Interview with Tobias Grau
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 architecture of your company buildings is very stylish and innovatively designed. Is this also part of the philosophy of the Tobias Grau Company?
It was necessary for the company building like with 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 facade - we led the way with this building.
Mr. Grau, you've been an interior decor 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 decor 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.
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.
Source - LW Magazin