Being a Malaysian lighting design company in mega construction projects hasn’t been easy for RP Design Illuminazione (M) Sdn Bhd as such craft has always been undertaken by foreign companies. But this husband-and-wife team has proven critics wrong with their passion, drive and commitment to clients, and they are now one of the highly recognized architectural and interior lighting design consultants in Malaysia and abroad.
Lighting design is a very important aspect of construction projects, and the best performance is achieved when the illumination of space is blended seamlessly with architecture and interior design. Lighting design is about giving definition to a space, and such a craft in creating a sense of place and atmosphere using light as the medium of expression requires knowledge, experience and expertise. Apart from the design, the input from Dato’ Ram Kumar and Datin Pusparani @ Jenny Ram had added value to their clients’ properties. With over twenty-two years of experience in lighting design, Dato’ Ram and Datin Jenny, Principal/Founder and Co-Founder of RP Design Illuminazione Sdn Bhd respectively, are indeed illuminating the way forward in the construction industry, both in Malaysia and abroad.
Dato’ Ram’s enormous passion for lighting design began at the age seventeen when he was tinkering with his father’s car, trying to improve its interior with LED lights. That interest and passion for lighting inspired him to pursue a degree in engineering, and upon graduation, Dato’ Ram secured a job with an international lighting consultancy firm which was, incidentally, part of the Petronas Twin Towers construction project.
“I was part of the team that worked on lighting design for Twin Towers, so I used that opportunity to learn about lighting design. Over the course of ten years, I learned more and understood deeper about the lighting design industry. From there, my wife and I set up RP Design Illuminazione in 2007,” Dato’ Ram shares.
RP Design Illuminazione is a Kuala Lumpur-based lighting design studio that provides architectural and interior lighting consultation for the construction industry. The studio started initially as a mid-scale studio but over a period of eleven years, RP Design Illuminazione has gained experience and expertise to manage and execute large-scale projects in Malaysia. Among the mega projects that it had executed were KLIA2, Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC), Element Hotel and Pullman Hotel, several government projects in Putrajaya, corporate development projects for Aspen Group, Sunway Group, EcoWorld and SP Setia’s SPICE Convention Centre in Penang which is touted as the first hybrid solar-powered convention centre in the world and also private residences for VVIPs.
Lighting design on such high-profile Malaysian construction projects are, more often than not, carried out by foreign companies but RP Design Illuminazione was one of the few Malaysian lighting design consultancy firms appointed to work on these projects by virtue of its track record in delivering outstanding results to clients.
“We are very fussy about delivering results to clients. You see, throughout the time when we were building RP, people were skeptical about our capabilities because we are Asians and a Malaysian-based company. But over the years, we have nailed it and proven ourselves through hard work. We are very detailed in our work. As a result, we were able to deliver results to clients according to the design intended,” Dato’ Ram says.
“Oh yes, I agree. He is very detailed and hands-on in his approach,” the elegant Datin Jenny smiles, to which Dato’ Ram adds, “Many people assume that we sell light fittings. No, we don’t sell light fittings, we sell our inspiration through lighting designs and concepts. We are very passionate about what we do.”
“We have established our subsidiary company, RP Reno De Arch (M) Sdn Bhd in 2012. This company specializes in interior design fit-out works to share and contribute the importance of architecture and interior design, so that we are able to understand the needs of architects, interior and landscape designers, and to develop ideas and concepts with them as one entity. This gives us an advantage over other lighting design firms, for we are able to work with others as a team and to see the overall perspective of the project. This makes RP unique.”
“Apart from that, we get very personal – we try to get into the space and feel it. When you feel the space, you start to generate ideas and concepts on how to develop the right lighting, the right ambience,” explains Dato’ Ram with unmistakable excitement in his voice.
RP Design Illuminazione always ensures that its lighting designs are creative and innovative, not only from an aesthetic perspective but also in terms of function, flexibility, maintenance requirement and cost as well. “To ensure that the client gets his return on investment, it’s very important to ensure that the light fixtures are maintenance-free for four to five years. We have received feedback from clients that less than 1% of our lighting systems require maintenance. As a result, clients trust us and with us in the field, they feel more confident,” comments the founder of RP Design Illuminazione.
Lighting design is a creative business, and design and technology trends are evolving fast, hence the dynamic duo travel outside Malaysia quite frequently to keep abreast of the latest trends and to be inspired.
“We travel abroad to get inspired by new designs and technology. We also attend international architectural conferences and conventions. By having the knowledge that architecture and lighting go hand in hand and having seen the design and technology overseas, we are able to convince our clients about our creativity, experience and capabilities,” says Datin Jenny.
She also confides, “It never came across our minds that RP would become a big company. But along the way, we set a goal of what we want to achieve and from there, we took many opportunities to travel to learn and be inspired.”
Dato’ Ram explains, “We travel a lot to France, Italy, Germany, London, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam and we bring our children along as well. We visit museum technology centres and castles, brainstorm and talk with our children about design and lighting. We hear their thoughts – it’s good to have the younger generation giving us input because construction projects usually take at least thirty-six months to complete, therefore we need to design ahead of trends, and that is the challenge.”
“We push ourselves to look forward in terms of design and technology and that is because we want to make a statement – that the lighting design was done, not by a foreign company, but by a Malaysian company.”
Having been recognized in the lighting design industry for lighting the way forward in Malaysia and Asia, so to speak, RP Design Illuminazione aims to expand their company across to Europe. That said, Dato’ Ram and Datin Jenny are still very keen to work on more Malaysian projects.
“We really want to do a signature project in Malaysia. This is because we want to revolutionise Malaysian architecture with our lighting design concepts. But more importantly, we are a Malaysian company, therefore we know our country and culture better than foreign companies – we put a lot of our heart and soul into our projects. Malaysia is our home and our family, therefore, we want to give the best to our Malaysian family.”