Krishna Mistry

With more than 10 years’ experience in the lighting design industry, Krishna Mistry has this summer established her own independent lighting design practice, Mistry Lighting. arc sits down with Mistry to learn more about her lighting journey to date, and her goals for her new solo venture. 

How did you get into lighting?

I studied interior design at university and always focused on the lighting element to design during my studies, which came naturally to me. I initially hoped to get into theatre set design but graduating during a recession, it was difficult finding a job. I got a temporary position at a wholesale lighting company, and it was only here I realised there was a possibility of a career in lighting design. I started looking for junior lighting jobs and got a position working for Fagerhult. It was a brilliant start to my career and it only took a few months for me to realise I found my passion!

Can you describe your lighting career so far?

After Fagerhult, I moved on to Buro Happold. Coming from a manufacturer to a large engineering firm was a big jump, but it gave me the opportunity to work on recognisable projects across the globe with the some of the most iconic architects. I later moved on to the Light Corporation specialising on hospitality projects. My favourite client was Nando’s, I love their ethos and we designed some creative colourful lighting schemes for them. 10 years later I now have a new journey as an independent lighting designer. 

What led you to the decision to start your own lighting design studio?

I always imagined I’d work for myself in the future but whilst I was furloughed for several months, it gave me the opportunity to think about my future and I thought why wait when this is the path I always intended to go down.

Was it a difficult decision for you to make?

It wasn’t difficult at all; I have gained freedom to follow my passion independently and focus on my own values when it comes to lighting design.   

How has the experience of forming a new studio in the middle of a global pandemic been?

Strange, but exciting! It’s been challenging not being able to meet face to face and create new connections. While work is harder to come by during these times, the support of the lighting industry has been amazing. I’ve been fortunate to have a great network of peers, which has made this transition smooth sailing for me. 

Do you have a ‘Mission Statement’ or design philosophy for Mistry Lighting?

I don’t have a mission statement as such, but I’m very open minded when it comes to lighting. I never want to restrict myself to a particular style but like to keep adapting to the latest technology. I strongly believe in supporting small businesses. 

Whilst working with Nando’s, I’ve had the opportunity to come across extremely talented artisans such as AAKS, who have a ‘weave for change’ initiative, which aims to create fair and dignified work for refugee artisans. Through creative collaborations such as these the refugee artisans living in extreme poverty may have an opportunity to change their lives. For me, this gives greater meaning towards a lighting scheme and I am actively sourcing artisans to widen my knowledge of what is available to us and support small business where possible, especially now in our current economy. 

Will you have a particular area of specialism?

I will be open to working in all aspects of designs from hospitality, residential to landscape and retail design. 

How does running your own independent studio compare to working for a global engineering firm such as Buro Happold?

It is completely different; working for a large firm like Buro Happold, there are bigger teams, a lot of admin and planning that goes into the project before you can even begin designing. Once you’re on the project, it can also last a number of years. A complete contrast to an independent studio, our projects are smaller and the pace is a lot quicker. I really enjoy the smaller projects, which has made the transition pretty easy. I find you have more authority over the lighting design as there are less people involved with the advantage of focusing on small details, which can often be overlooked on larger projects.

What are your aspirations for Mistry Lighting? What do you hope to bring to the lighting world?

I’d hope to continue to evolve my designs with every project I work on. I always believe you can never stop learning. Each project will always bring its own challenge and it’s how you adapt and push design forward that is important to me. I want to continue to enjoy each project I work on and keep lighting fun, not only for me, but hopefully in the future when I can expand the team and share my knowledge and experience.

Finally, lighting is so important to our daily lives, it almost gets unnoticed, so I hope I can be influential in making it one of the first aspects of design that is thought about.

What sort of reaction have you had so far? Do you have a lot of work already in the pipeline?

The reaction has been very positive. It’s always scary to start up on your own, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, but to have support from my network, friends and family has given me the confidence to take this next step in my career. I’m fortunate to have worked under some great peers through whom I’ve been able to get some work in the pipeline, as it’s still early days and I’m continuing to reach out to my network. 

What do you think the future holds for the lighting industry?

The future is exciting for the lighting industry, as products are evolving, so are lightings designs. In the 10+ years I’ve been in the industry so much has already changed, who knows what the next 10 will bring. I have no idea but I’m enthusiastic about it! 

www.mistrylighting.com