Luminaire’s Founders Create Design for Life

Cathy Leff

Humberto and Fernando Campana_Courtesy of Estudio Campana Photo by Fernando Laszlo
Humberto and Fernando Campana.

Nasir and Nargis Kassamali have a mission: to demonstrate design’s power to transform lives. Their platform is Luminaire, which they founded in 1974 with a showroom in Miami—and a reach far beyond.

Luminaire has shaped the environments of their discerning clientele and impacted the careers of the most distinguished designers and design producers. So it’s no surprise the design community joined the Kassamalis in 2006 when they launched their first “Love” auction, PuppyLove, benefitting the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Research Center.


“I’m trying to think about the in between. It’s like when you’re looking at the stars, everybody thinks, That’s so beautiful, but what I’m trying to see is the darkness, the sky that is making the stars look nice. I’m trying to design the sky itself. By looking into what’s in between, I’m able to find something that is slightly different—new ideas, very small ideas, but something very interesting.” -Oki Sato

“We’ve had a four-decade relationship with the design community. They’re our family,” says Nasir. “They provided emotional scaffolding during Nargis’ recurring battles against breast cancer. They cried with us, cheered us up and gave us strength. We’re so grateful for their friendship and generosity, as we collectively raise funds to redesign the course of cancer.”


“Working with glass means I need to be a good listener. Glass is a live material. It has its own way of being. If I force glass to do certain things it doesn’t want to do, it doesn’t work. It’s kind of like having a difficult relationship. But if you let the material act in a natural way, it shows its beauty. Thus, my Momento captures the most beautiful ‘moment’ of glass.” —Nao Tamura

This year, the Kassamalis are turning to a new media for their upcoming fundraising auction, glass. The project has the support of Glas Italia and Oki Sato, designer and founder of Tokyo-based Nendo, who donated 30-plus glass prototypes from the “nendo works 2014-2105” exhibition, held at Milan’s Museo della Permanente. Also being auctioned are pieces by Tadao Ando, Marcel Wanders, the Campana Brothers, Tao Namura, Piero Lissoni, Patricia Urquiola, Omer Arbel, Anna Torfs, Ivan Baj and Todd Bracher, and works produced by Glas Italia, Wonderglass, Venini, Arcade, Lasvit and Bocci, among others.