Nightside’s ambient lamp rethinks the reading light

Nightside is the brainchild of Jess Gupta. The $350 LED bedside lamp is a deliberately simple product. It doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi or Alexa, but it does have a few nifty tricks up its sleeve.

“I went to design school at CCA (in San Francisco), where I studied furniture design. I got into lighting and wanted to play with optics and different ways of playing with light rather than just putting a light source behind the lampshade,” Gupta told TechCrunch. “I discovered that I could create the equivalent of a theater spotlight, like a focused disc of light. I like to read at night before bed and realized this would be a great reading lamp.

The inventor continued to experiment with different lamp prototypes. With a background in law, he first ventured into the software industry, working for several years in positions other than design. Her departure from the company coincided with some personal milestones, including the birth of her first child. It was during a routine nighttime diaper change that Gupta’s wife expressed the need for a lamp that could provide light without disturbing their sleep. This moment reignited Jess’s interest in her early prototypes, designed to be read without causing disruption.

Seeing the immediate benefit of his creation, his wife encouraged him to continue this adventure. With newfound motivation and free time, Jess dedicated herself to refining and prototyping her design. The journey was filled with challenges and unexpected turns, but Jess stayed true to his vision. He describes the inspiration behind the lamp as driven by a desire to meet the needs of his family and his passion for reading in bed without disturbing his light-sleeping wife.

The design of the Nightside lamp is simple but thoughtful. It features a single LED source that serves two functions: an uplight effect for ambient lighting and a reading spotlight for focused lighting. A front-mounted dimmer button is the only control of the lamp. It’s USB-C powered, dimmable, and champions energy efficiency, running on about one watt of power.

“The components of the lamp come from various places. The plastic parts come from a supplier in China and the machined parts also come from Asia. However, all assembly work is done here in San Francisco. I have a facility where lamps are assembled to order. Although I have a few pre-assembled units, I personally build most of them with help, but I take care of all the final quality checks and oversee the shipping process,” says Gupta. “This hands-on approach is crucial for me, especially given the complexity of the product. I want to make sure every part works perfectly before shipping. Currently, around 75% of parts come from abroad. For example, the gas spring that facilitates the extension of the reading reflector comes from Germany. My priority is to find the best suppliers for these components to guarantee the highest quality.

An overview of the Nightside lamp and its projector system. Image credits: Night side

I had the chance to test the lamp in person, and it’s definitely a lovingly designed device. But the question remains: Is there really a market for a $350, mostly hand-assembled lamp?

“I sometimes have concerns about the price, but I always come back to the idea that the quality justifies it. The price of the lamp not only reflects the complexity of its assembly but also guarantees a healthy margin. As I researched pricing and looked at the market, I noticed that many similarly priced products offer far fewer features. Our lamp offers great value for money, and it’s the last bedside lamp I’ll ever need. It perfectly meets all my requirements and I have heard similar sentiments from several customers. This reassures me that the value we offer corresponds to the price. I have invested a lot in quality and many appreciate the lamp as a beautiful designer object for their bedside. Although I get questions about pricing, it’s important to note that the lighting category encompasses a wide range of prices. I am confident that our lamp sits comfortably within this spectrum,” says Gupta.

It seems early customers agree. “So far, we have sold a few hundred units, out of an initial series limited to 1,000 copies, each numbered and signed,” adds the founder. “It’s exciting to see sales gradually increasing, allowing us to grow our business accordingly. »

Getting cheesy, the lamp itself uses an LED light that emits warm white light (3,000 Kelvin), and Gupta claims a CRI of 80-85. Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a quantitative measure of how accurately a light source can reproduce the colors of various objects compared to a natural light source. Measured on a scale of 0 to 100, the higher the CRI value, the better the light source is at rendering colors accurately. A CRI of 80 to 90 is considered good, while a CRI of 90 or higher is considered excellent and is generally desirable for tasks requiring the most accurate color discrimination, such as photography, etc. For something like a bedside lamp, it’s pretty screwed. GOOD.

Marketing the Nightside lamp was not without difficulties. Gupta highlighted the obstacles faced in overcoming the global chip shortage and ensuring impeccable quality by assembling the lamps in San Francisco. There is also the ever-present threat of his designs being stolen and cheaply reproduced by a factory in China, but Gupta backed up his invention with a utility patent for the optical projection system.

The founder does not plan to stop only at the lamp, but envisions a range of products that “enrich the bedtime ritual”, focusing on lighting solutions and accessories suitable for the bedside area.

As the Nightside Lamp continues to brighten the lives of its users, Gupta’s story serves as an inspiration for future product creators. It’s a story of prioritizing the product rather than the financial windfall. Will Nightside ever become a unicorn company? Doubtful – but his journey reminds us that personal passion and building businesses that itch your guts continues to be an interesting way to flex those creator muscles.


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