Treating the London space more like a gallery than a showroom, Lighting Design International has created a strong lighting design that works within the minimalist and refined architectural space, while working to reinforce Deirdre Dyson’s reputation as a contemporary and stylish artist and designer.
In the era of online shopping, creating a retail environment that people will want to visit is key. More importantly, the space needs to reinforce the brand and create an experience, not just a shopping opportunity.
As a renowned artist and designer, Deirdre Dyson’s move into the luxurious carpet market has challenged the way consumers think of this traditional flooring. With her contemporary aesthetic and vision of carpet as art, Lighting Design International’s (LDI)approach to conceptualising the lighting was not along the traditional route.
The concept was to treat the showroom like a contemporary gallery as opposed to a traditional carpet showroom. Working with the clean lines of the Timothy Hatton designed interior, LDI integrated the lighting where possible to provide a subtle backdrop against which the carpets could shine.
With a corner location on Chelsea’s vibrant King’s Road, it was important to create a strong presence that reinforced the client’s contemporary and stylish design aesthetic. While by day the windows allow glimpses into the gallery spaces, it was important that by night the showroom gave a strong unified presence. When the gallery closes, the automated system drops the blinds on the upper floors and activates the linear LEDs that are integrated into the window sills. This provides a soft wash light to the blinds, giving the showroom a strong understated presence, which is clearly visible from a distance. To reinforce this further, the brand logo is captured in silhouette, backlit with linear LED to highlight the fluid forms of the client’s signature.
With a deep floorplate, a unique glass-block wall was designed to allow natural light to filter into the main client consultation area to the rear of the ground floor gallery. To enhance this effect the glass blocks were softly washed with light from a ceiling slot bordering the space, silhouetting the desk and creating a backdrop to the gallery. In addition, the lighting from the basement skylight below washes the lower part of the wall, giving a magical floating effect.
The client consultation area is accented with ceiling recessed spotlights providing good task lighting for clients to review colour samples and designs. To add additional definition to this space, a linear LED was integrated into the front of the desk, highlighting the monolithic black steel structure.
The minimalist interior and defined display areas lent themselves to the contemporary gallery feel that LDI wanted to create. The lighting was used to enhance this feeling further, treating each rug like a work of art, reinforcing the client’s vision of carpet as art.
The gallery spaces were treated in two halves with one side illuminated with a discreet recessed track system, which focuses light on the carpet ‘artworks’ on display. The track system allows the flexibility to change the lighting dependent on the pieces being displayed. Fitting locations can be easily adjusted and a range of optics can be fitted to the luminaires to achieve the desired effect for each rug.
The other side of the gallery was wash lit with plaster-in custom RAL finished wall washers to illuminate the sliding rug displays. In each case, the white light colour temperature and colour rendering were carefully considered to ensure continuity throughout the space and to ensure that the carpets are rendered in their true colours.
The spine of the building comes in the form of a sculptural black steel staircase, which winds its way up the building, linking the floors and becoming the central transitional space on a customer’s journey through the building. The staircase is key to the experience of the showroom and was deliberately illuminated with only minimal functional light, allowing for navigation through the space. This provides a brilliant contrast to the vibrantly lit gallery spaces displaying the bespoke carpets and rugs.
The lighting to feature the architectural staircase has two elements, each being integrated into the handrail. The first element is a linear LED which washes light over the stair treads, while the second lights the handrail itself, giving definition and visual strength to the spine. The open treads allow light to gently filter through, illuminating the spaces beyond and casting interesting shadows. To address the functional requirements, the integrated lighting has been converted to emergency, eliminating the need for separate emergency lighting.
As an extension of the main staircase, the black steel finned balustrades on the first and second floors visually link the spaces. The subtle integration of custom mini recessed spotlights between the fins uplights the balustrade, defining this feature while casting dynamic shadows on the soffit above; this also provides an ambient indirect light to the galleries without taking the focus off the main feature – the rugs.
The basement area is home to the design studio and meeting room. With limited natural daylight from the skylight, providing a high colour rendering light source was key. A combination of infill ambient lighting, task lighting and focused display lighting was used to illuminate the area. To help with eliminating the basement feel, additional lighting was discreetly integrated into the skylight to supplement the natural light on darker days. Even the storage spaces have been carefully considered with high colour rendering luminaires integrated into the joinery to allow for the best colour rendition of fabrics and samples. The cupboard lighting is controlled by door contact switches to allow for functionality and energy efficiency.
The experience extends to the toilets, which have been treated like a luxurious home, with light carefully integrated and layered into the space to create a warm welcoming environment. On ascending to the top of the staircase visitors are welcomed onto the roof space, tucked away at the top of the building. Creating a flexible space suitable for both relaxing and entertaining was important. To stay in keeping with the minimal interiors, the lighting has been integrated into the back of the bench, providing a soft low level wash light below the seating while low glare spiked uplights add to the foliage to create some focal points onto the borders of the terrace.
To achieve such a detailed and integrated scheme required a client willing to push the boundaries in defining what a retail space can be, along with a design team dedicated to creating a space that is exceptional in design and that speaks directly with the contemporary stylish design of the client’s product.
Pic: Andrew Beasley