Three top-tier lighting designers offer illuminating insights into how they help switch on memorable hospitality environments.
By Matthew Hall
Glare draws the ire of illuminationworks’ Chad Rains. “It detracts from the soothing feel that many hospitality settings seek to engender,” says Rains, founder and creative director of the London-based firm.
The lighting design by illuminationworks for the Mary Eddy’s restaurant within the 21c Museum Hotel in Oklahoma City is a layered affair, featuring custom pendants that define its bar area, along with spotlights highlighting the gleaming pizza oven. Photo: Courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels
For Focus Lighting’s Brett Andersen, it’s too-low lighting levels, especially in restaurants. “When it's hard for guests to read the menu or see their date's face, it takes away from the experience,” says Andersen, principal designer and a two decades-plus veteran of New York-based Focus.
And for AWA Lighting Designers’ Abhay Wadhwa, it’s illumination schemes that don’t reflect an understanding of local culture and context, thereby creating a disconnect with guests. “Every culture has a distinct relationship with light. As the hospitality industry increasingly crosses geographic boundaries, lighting designers need to have a greater understanding of such cultural drivers,” says Wadhwa, design principal and ceo of Brooklyn, New York’s AWA.
At The Beaumont hotel in London, illuminationworks used cove lighting—a signature of the art deco era—with a modern twist: LED fixtures. Photo: Nick Ingram
Given all that can go wrong with illuminating installations in hospitality settings, Boutique Design conducted a Q+A with this trio of experts, seeking to shed some light on the specific role firms like theirs play in helping such projects avoid gaffes like these, while also attaining that holy grail of creating sensory-driven, mood-matching experiences that bring people back for more.
LET’S START WITH EACH OF YOU WALKING US THROUGH THE DETAILS OF ONE (OR SEVERAL) OF YOUR RECENT PROJECTS.
A selection of projects spanning the globe.
ANDERSEN: At the new Beauty & Essex restaurant in Las Vegas, Focus used architectural and decorative lighting to give guests the sense that they’re dining inside a highly curated jewelry box. The transition from what appears to be a storefront pawn shop to a restaurant where guests are enveloped in a world of gold, pearl and crystal, creates a completely immersive experience.
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