American Express Invites Lounge, UK

1st April 2015

The American Express Invites Lounge (AEIL) recently opened to members following a £2.6m investment. Into, appointed as lighting consultant to work alongside interior design company Platform Group, created a dramatic new look for this VIP venue.

The lighting design brief was to realise the vision of Platform Group and the client for an exclusive venue for VIP members, which truly emulates the theatre and excitement of the green room celebrity experience and after-party atmosphere. The lighting was to be fully flexible to suit any VIP event, allowing for separate zone control of the bar, lounge and restaurant areas. The lighting was to help create intimacy at low level within such a vast venue.

On entering the venue the uplit ten-metre long by seven-metre high feature wall acts as a dramatic backdrop to the space. Stage rigging ropes running vertically floor to ceiling, and a high output lensed RGBW colour-change light trough runs along the length of the wall uplighting the rigging rope and creating an interesting shadow effect. A bespoke honeycomb louvre detail minimises glare when viewed from both ground and first floor levels. The RGB rope wall can be quickly programmed to suit any themed or branded event, be it for a band or corporate private hire.

The venue has varying ceiling heights of up to seven-metres, which made it challenging to create an intimate ambience at low level. Track-mounted AR111 LED spotlights provide the theatrical lighting for the main space along with larger Par64-style LED spotlights clamped onto truss hanging from the overhead walkways. The truss-mounted spotlights were adapted to take Ar111 LED engines and provide the visual aesthetic of large scale stage lighting. The suspension of light fittings at around four-metres along with the use of deep honeycomb louvres and barn doors creates theatrical lighting with low glare, despite the ceiling heights.

Darren Orrow, Director at Into commented: “This was a unique project in terms of scale and brief and allowed us to really go to town on the theatrical lighting effects to ensure we created a high impact backstage feel.”

The central cocktail bar on the ground floor has LED spotlights clamped to a cage above. Suspended halogen lamps hang at varying heights from the cage and create a visual impact together with a warm glow around the feature area. Bar nosing, shelving and back bar details throughout the space have integral lighting details to create an impactful and layered light effect to bar areas. The details utilise warm white LED tape. A number of bespoke feature lights were designed by Into and Platform Group for the venue, including large two-metre diameter aluminium rings with a black finish and 24 E14 incandescent lamps mounted on the inner edge.

Terry Routledge, Creative Director at Platform Group added: “It was great fun working on the VIP lounge. Creating the backstage glamour and excitement while accommodating the practical needs of the lounge and bar area were the key elements of the brief, while at all times ensuring it remained visually an amazing space. VIP’s to The O2 have a treat in store.” On the first floor, fluorescents with colour filter sleeves between each banquette, light up the brick walls with a twin-coloured light wash. LED tape to bar gantry and nosing on this level, and the back of the banquette seating, creates an intimate yet layered light effect. Stairs and all walkway bridges are lit with tight beam downlights and track spotlights to allow ease of passage without over lighting circulation areas.

Rebecca Kane Burton, General Manager at The O2 summed up the project: “With our new look lounge and membership I believe The O2 is taking the VIP experience to a new level. No other venue can provide the best in music, comedy and sport and give VIP’s the feeling that they and their guests are the stars in their own backstage area. The design team understood immediately the need to treat VIP’s as the stars and have created a space which reflects the excitement, entertainment and pure exhilaration that guests experience when coming to The O2.”

Architecture and Interior Photography by Jim Stephenson