written by:
January 2, 2016
Luminaire is a guiding force in bringing international design to the USA.
Furniture at high-design retailer Luminaire.

Iconic and modern furnishings mingle at Luminaire, which has showrooms in Chicago and Coral Gables, Florida.

1 / 7
A 3Table by Front for Porro at Luminaire's 15,000-square-foot Coral Gables location.

A 3Table by Front for Porro graces the 15,000-square-foot Coral Gables location.

2 / 7
A vignette at a showroom of high-design retailer Luminaire.

Luminaire curates thoughtful vignettes composed of furniture by celebrated designers.

3 / 7
A Fat Sofa low-back armchair and Fat Fat small table by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia with a Snoopy table lamp by Achille and Pier Castiglioni for Flos at a Luminaire showroom.

A Fat Sofa low-back armchair and Fat Fat small table by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia pair with a Snoopy table lamp by Achille and Pier Castiglioni for Flos. 

4 / 7
Luminaire cofounder Nasir Kassamali in one of his showrooms.

Nasir Kassamali founded Luminaire with his wife, Nargis, in 1974 with the mission to “demystify” design for the general public. Their commitment to education led to launching a lecture series in 1979.

5 / 7
High-design ware at a Luminaire showroom.

Over the years, it has hosted now-famous designers like Jasper Morrison, Philippe Starck, and the Bouroullec brothers early in their careers.

6 / 7
Product from high-design retailer Luminaire.

"The danger is that e-commerce can turn good design into a commodity. You lose the value of how and why it was made. We maintain a history-based, philosophy-based online store. Every product we feature has a description written by us, not taken out of a catalog." — Nasir Kassamali 

7 / 7
Furniture at high-design retailer Luminaire.

Iconic and modern furnishings mingle at Luminaire, which has showrooms in Chicago and Coral Gables, Florida.

Owner Nasir Kassamali regularly travels the world identifying new talent while stocking his showrooms with enduring classics. 

What prompted you to start Luminaire in 1974?

There wasn’t much contemporary design in retail. It’s one thing to be a shopkeeper, it’s another to be an educator. We planned to have a story for every product—who is the designer, what is its real function. I made sure every client, even if they came in just to buy a lamp, knew the bigger story.

How do you approach the customer relationship?

What we are interested in is loyalty. We want [customers] to understand our brand. Rather than say “Trust me, I’m a decorator,” we want them to understand why we make our choices. When we transform their lives with their help, they appreciate it and become vocal ambassadors for us. That practice is why we’ve been quite resilient throughout the recession.

How do you view the e-commerce landscape?

You know, the only difference between an online and a brick-and-mortar store is people. What’s the difference between buying an iPhone on AT&T’s website as opposed to going to the Apple Store? It’s the same. The danger is that e-commerce can turn good design into a commodity. You lose the value of how and why it was made. We maintain a history-based, philosophy-based online store. Every product we feature has a description written by us, not taken out of a catalog. 

How do you stay abreast of emerging design after so many years?

It’s important for me to see young talent on a level playing field. I’m in this business not only to make money, but to promote good design. Ten years ago, through Luminaire’s lecture series, I met Omer Arbel, who is the creative director at Bocci. I saw his work, saw its benefit, and so I helped him launch their product. Today, Bocci is one of the most successful lighting companies in the world. I don’t ask for a consulting fee or anything, there are no strings attached. If there’s more good design in the world, it’ll be a much better place.  

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016