Let There Be Light!
Someday, Adir Gadiel is going to write a book about lighting.
“I started out in interior design, like Cathy Lee,” he recalls. “But there was always a problem when we got to the lighting. No one gives you answers! There are books on flooring, plumbing, kitchens—you name it—but there are no books on lighting.
“It’s elusive. It’s part technical, part art. I’d love to be able to teach a course on it. I like bringing it down from the mysterious professional level to the everyday person’s level.”
It wouldn’t be a big stretch for Adir to share his passion on the science behind the elusive art. He’s been an avid student all of his life.
Born in Jerusalem and raised in California’s Silicon Valley, he returned to Israel to study math and computer engineering at the Hebrew University. But to Adir, all the classes were fascinating. Over the next 10 years, he signed up for everything from business to history to philosophy and psychology.
Adir ended up majoring in accounting and economic science. These would help him after the family eventually relocated to Hawaii.
“I had always wanted to come here, and I connected right away,” says Adir, who moved to the islands in 2002. “To me, Hawaii is not the beach. It’s the people I live with every day, the easygoing lifestyle, the atmosphere and the air. I love the trade winds.”
He bought some real estate at first, including his home, vacation rentals and investments that he fixed up to sell. That’s how he met his business partner, Shuly Zion.
“Shuly was my contractor. After you do a few renovations with a contractor and you haven’t fought, that’s a good sign,” Adir jokes. “So we knew we worked well together.”
When it came to lighting, however, Adir and Shuly could never get the information they wanted. At that point, they realized they could do a better job not just providing attractive lights, but educating their customers on finding practical solutions to match their lifestyles.
In 2007, Adir and Shuly found a spot on Waialae Avenue across Kahala Mall and opened Honolulu Lights. A year later they launched its sister company, Kahala Electric.
“My father is retired, but he still works with me; he’s an electrical contractor. Shuly’s little brother Paul works with us in the store,” Adir points out. “That’s so Hawaii. Our families are really tight.”
When Adir isn’t working, he’s still learning. At first glance, the classes he takes aren’t directly related to his lighting business, but he incorporates everything into his passion.
“I try to take adult education classes every semester. I’ve taken photography, ikebana, entrepreneurship, even one on organizing your life, and feng shui classes from Clarence Lau,” Adir says. “A home’s energy flows like the people in it, so I consider that. For example, I don’t bother with second story-balconies. No one in their right mind will spend their time there, so far from the action! They want to be near the food and drink.”
Adir is bursting with tips: how to minimize glare and maximize a view. How to choose lighting for aging eyes. Where to use general lighting, task lighting, ambient lighting. He jokes that he’s seen more homes than most interior decorators. He knows what questions to ask clients to find the best lighting solutions.
“When I put a fixture over a dining table, I ask, ‘Where do your kids really do their homework? Where do you do your checking?’ Chances are, they use the same area for working as they do for eating, and we need to put the right light at those spots,” he explains.
Thanks to his passions for learning and teaching, customers can expect to make intelligent choices at Honolulu Lights.
“We’re more about the lighting than just the fixtures,” Adir says.