Revamping the reading experience with Nightside’s ambient lamp

The $350 LED bedside lamp is an intentionally simple product. Our lamp provides significant value for its price, and this is the last bedside lamp I’ll ever need. Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a quantitative measure of how accurately a light source can reproduce the colors of various objects in comparison to a natural light source. Bringing the Nightside lamp to market wasn’t without its challenges. As the Nightside lamp continues to illuminate the lives of its users, Gupta’s story serves as an inspiration for aspiring product-makers.

Nightside is the brilliant creation of Jess Gupta. At a price point of $350, this revolutionary LED bedside lamp is a minimalist’s dream. Gone are the days of complicated gadgets and unnecessary features. Instead, Nightside offers a few clever tricks up its sleeve.

“I went to design school at CCA [in San Francisco], studying furniture design. I got into lighting, and wanted to play around with optics and different ways of playing with light rather than just putting a light source behind the shade,” Gupta tells TechCrunch. “I discovered that I could make the equivalent of a theatrical spotlight, like a focused disk of light. I like to read at night to go to bed, and I realized that this would be a great reading light.”

The inventor, Jess Gupta, had been experimenting with various lamp prototypes for years. Though his background was in law, he had always been interested in design and found himself drawn to the software industry. However, after becoming a father and experiencing a nightly routine of diaper changes, Gupta’s wife expressed the need for a simple, yet effective bedside lamp that wouldn’t disturb their sleep. This sparked Gupta’s passion for creating a lamp designed specifically for reading without causing disruption.

Gupta’s wife’s encouragement led him to dedicate himself to perfecting his design. Though the journey came with challenges and unexpected turns, Jess remained committed to his vision. He not only wanted to meet his family’s needs, but also had a passion for reading in bed without disturbing his light-sleeping wife.

The design of the Nightside lamp is both simple and thoughtful. It features a single LED source that serves dual functions: an uplight effect for ambient lighting and a reading spotlight for focused illumination. The lamp can be easily controlled with a front-mounted dimmer knob, and operates efficiently using only about a watt of power.

“The components of the lamp come from various places. The plastic parts are sourced from a supplier in China, and the machined parts are also from Asia. However, all the assembly work is done here in San Francisco. I have a facility where the lamps are put together to order. While I do have a few pre-assembled units, I personally build most of them with some assistance but take charge of all the final quality checks and oversee the shipping process,” Gupta explains. “This hands-on approach is crucial to me, especially given the complexity of the product. I want to ensure that every part functions perfectly before shipping. Currently, about 75% of the parts are sourced from overseas. For instance, the gas spring that facilitates the extension of the reading reflector is sourced from Germany. I prioritize finding the best suppliers for these components to guarantee the highest quality.”

After experiencing the lamp in person, it is evident that it is a beautifully crafted device. However, one may question the market for a mostly hand-assembled, $350 lamp.

“I sometimes have concerns about the pricing, but I always return to the understanding that the quality justifies it. The lamp’s pricing reflects not only the complexity of its assembly but also ensures a healthy margin. In conducting pricing research and examining the market, I noticed many products at similar price points offer far less functionality. Our lamp provides significant value for its price, and this is the last bedside lamp I’ll ever need. It meets all my requirements perfectly, and I’ve heard similar sentiments from several customers. This reassures me that the value we offer aligns well with the price. I’ve invested heavily in quality, and many appreciate the lamp as a beautiful design object for their bedside. While I do receive questions about the pricing, it’s important to note that the lighting category encompasses a wide range of prices. I’m confident that our lamp is positioned comfortably within this spectrum,” says Gupta.

Early customers seem to agree with Gupta’s assessment. “We’ve sold a couple of hundred units so far, from an initial limited run of 1,000, each numbered and signed,” the founder adds. “It’s been exciting to see sales gradually increase, allowing us to scale up the business accordingly.”

For those curious, the lamp uses an LED light that throws off warm white (3,000 Kelvin) light, and Gupta claims a CRI of 80-85. A Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a quantitative measure of how accurately a light source can reproduce the colors of various objects in comparison to a natural light source. A CRI of 80 to 90 is considered good, while a CRI of 90 or above is deemed excellent and is typically desirable for tasks requiring the most accurate color discrimination — such as for photography, etc. For something like a bedside light, that’s pretty impressive.

Bringing the Nightside lamp to market came with its own set of challenges. Gupta highlights the hurdles of navigating the global chip shortage and ensuring top-notch quality by assembling the lamps in San Francisco. Additionally, there is always the looming threat of designs being copied and reproduced cheaply by a factory in China. Luckily, Gupta has safeguarded his invention with a utility patent for the optical projection system.

But Gupta doesn’t plan to stop at just the lamp. He is considering a range of products that “enrich the bedtime ritual,” with a focus on lighting solutions and accessories for the bedside area.

As the Nightside lamp continues to brighten the lives of its users, Gupta’s story serves as an inspiration for aspiring product-makers. It is a story of prioritizing product over financial gain and following one’s personal passion. While Nightside may never become a unicorn company, Gupta’s journey reminds us that sometimes the most interesting and fulfilling paths involve pursuing our own passions and scratching our own itches.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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