With aspirations of creating an environment that was more than just a showroom for designer bathroom products, CP Hart turned to the talents of Morrow Lorraine architects to create a space that could be used for product displays, launch parties, and as a working environment for designers to meet clients.
Having worked previously with Morrow Lorraine, lighting design practice studioFRACTAL was invited by the architects to be involved in the new London-based showroom. With a focus on creating a memorable customer experience, this provided the practice with a great opportunity to create something really special. However the team was aware that a space with such theatre and drama would be a big step away from their more typical showrooms with high levels of retail lighting.
studioFRACTAL worked closely with CP Hart and Morrow Lorraine to develop a lighting strategy that created a series of customer zones within the open plan space. The strategy looked to subtly emphasise the existing architectural character while highlighting the range of products, new and old materials and textures, as well as deliver ambient lighting appropriate for the range of uses. A combination of lighting layers create a fantastic atmosphere, defining individual spaces within an overall visual landscape and encourages visitors to explore.
Each customer zone has very specific characteristics and functions, varying from a high-end bathroom gallery to a café bar area. During the initial lighting strategy work, studioFRACTAL proposed the use of warm white and cool white lighting to fully enhance the visual impact of each zone. Warm white lighting has been used to create relaxed environments within the entrance lobby and café bar and also to emphasise the colour and texture of the existing brickwork. Cool white lighting has been used for ambient lighting within the Work Zones and also for accent lighting onto the variety of porcelain and metal products on display. This combination of warm and cool, texture and sparkle helps create focal points within each space and helps pull visitors through the entire showroom, while still providing excellent illumination for the range of work and relaxing activities that take place.
The overall lighting design creates a seamless journey throughout the showroom, leading guests on to the next zone. To help punctuate and enhance this journey, three specially designed and manufactured decorative light fixtures were included. Suspended over the entrance lobby, undulating copper pipes are softly illuminated by an LED fibreoptic system, creating a relaxed and sophisticated welcome. At the far end of the showroom a copper pipe maze with LED filament lamps creates a dramatic chandelier over the café bar, drawing customers through the showroom. Then, in the centre of the space, a waterfall feature draws the eye to the range of brands CP Hart provides. Each feature has been designed to provide a very specific level of visual impact and character to ensure that they all work together to create a strong identity to the showroom.
Commenting on the final outcome of the lighting design, studioFRACTAL’s Design Director, Ian Payne told darc: “We’re extremely happy with the design and how it has been realised. The whole project team worked really hard to create something special and we think that this has been achieved. The client is extremely happy, but even more satisfying has been the positive response they have had from their customers.
“The design of the showroom as an open plan space requires the lighting to provide visual modulation, definition and character,” continued Payne. “There are several aspects of the original strategy that have been extremely successful, one of which is the use of warm and cool white light. The use of soft washes of warm light on the brick arches creates a calm, but rich, background ambience that contrasts to the focused cool white lighting onto product displays.”
The location of the showroom underneath the brick railway arches leading to London’s Waterloo station provides an atmospheric volume to the showroom, with high vaulted soffits and textured brickwork throughout. Because of this, there is very little daylight within the showroom, which has actually contributed to the lighting scheme in a positive way; the levels of ambient lighting have been more controllable and have created more dramatic, theatrical effects.
While impressive, the showroom’s location provided a challenge to ensure that the architecture didn’t overwhelm the space and there were also some structural issues to consider, as the lighting practice’s Ian Payne explained: “The railway arches of Waterloo are owned and maintained by Network Rail. As part of the design process all fixing locations had to be approved by Network Rail and the design had to allow for regular visual inspection of each fixing location. This proved to be a challenge for some of the large lighting features as it restricted the number and positions of permitted fixings.”
Working within these restraints and to simplify the installation process, studioFRACTAL developed each lighting feature as a series of modular components that could be easily assembled on site. The 5.5m diameter entrance lobby feature comprises eight elements that were fixed together on site and winched into place via a permanent hydraulic winch. If access is required above to inspect the fixings, the feature can be lowered to the ground.
For Payne, one of the standout features of the project was the client’s conviction that lighting should be fundamental to the environment that they wanted to create. The client team instantly responded to the proposed lighting concept with great enthusiasm and understanding of how important the lighting would be in creating a positive experience and while there was a capped overall construction budget, studioFRACTAL was asked to provide what they thought the lighting budget should be.
“This was a very rare opportunity to input how much of the overall budget should be allocated to lighting,” said Payne. “While I am sure that our proposed budgets would have come as a bit of a shock, compared with what would have been spent historically on a CP Hart showroom, it wasn’t challenged and we were allowed to produce a scheme that is worth every penny.”
Pics: James Newton