VISO’s Tzetzy Naydenova explains the benefit of using bespoke lighting in a project and outlines why it’s not always as expensive as you might think.
‘Bespoke’ has come a long way from its first use as an adjective in reference to tailor-made suits. In the design and fabrication industry, the contemporary version of the term refers to any specification characteristic of custom lighting fixtures. Whether it refers to customisation as a service in lighting design or in the form of a special request from the client, bespoke has become the go-to term for anything custom.
An increasing need for differentiation and to create something unique influences how we, as service providers and fabricators, package our offering for both products and service solutions, known at VISO as bespoke solutions. Bespoke requests could be a unique element to an off-the-shelf lighting fixture or fully customised light feature.
In the age of the internet and endless stream of digital inspiration, there is pressure to be creative and to design and fabricate unique products and service offerings. In doing so, designers and architects put their creative signature on each and every project. As a result, the industry has grown more and more wary of picking easily accessible lighting fixture solutions, which casts an additional demand on an already challenging and saturated world of lighting. For example, e-commerce has made products easily accessible all over the world and to everyone. With a quick and easy reverse image search, one can find comparative products for any off-the-shelf offering. The only real solution is to custom create a one-of-a-kind experience to fit the client’s exact needs and wants.
The right light fixture must complement the space and never take away from the design of the interior. The option to customise is especially useful for projects in limited spaces. This was the case for Beaumont Kitchen, a restaurant by Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality group. The O&B group partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue to open a fashionable all-day dining lounge for tired shoppers to take a break. The space for the restaurant contained a weight bearing column in the middle of the restaurant. Our team collaborated with the award-winning design studio, Moncur Design Associates, to create a chandelier that would attach directly to the column. This unique, cost-effective solution saved the client time and affected the environment with such high impact, that the once existing plan to remodel the entire space was not important anymore.
“Bespoke must be sky-high pricing. It’s out of budget!” Anytime a client hears bespoke or custom, they think exclusive with budget-breaking prices. It is a well-known fact that lighting retains the smallest budget in a project. Hence, we have to innovate in design, engineering and fabrication to find ways in which we can meet the budget and preserve design intent.
Through design-engineering and vast fabrication capabilities, we optimise the design to fabricate at one-third of the expected or perceived price without compromising design intent. Thus, clients can invest in the visual components of the light fixture that make the most impact. This is an advantage over the status quo and perception that something custom will not meet budget constraints. Our work with polycarbonate, carbon fibre and special metal resin to achieve challenging specifications has proven to be an innovative and cost-effective way to deliver on projects. Modern technology enables us to metalise a variety of materials to simulate glass or metal. It is a complex process, as was the case in our project with Yabu Pushelberg on the Four Seasons Burj Alshaya, Kuwait. Four acoustical metal domes measuring over 2,000mm in diameter were specified for the hotel’s business lounge. Thus, to create a sound-cancellation effect and be within budget, we design engineered the domes and fabricated them out of carbon fibre, finished with a metallic coat made from a special acoustic resin.
Furthermore, tight and aggressive timelines make bespoke lighting farfetched. We often customise a readily available product to achieve the full project specification. A simple change or upgrade of suspension cables to match clients’ branding or colour palettes can change a design to complement the space as they envisioned it. A minimal, off-the-shelf light pendant can be clustered to compose a substantial bespoke light feature at budget friendly pricing. At the Hilton Hotel, Atlanta, we filled the large three-storey atrium space with an arrangement of over 300 Alo light pendants from the VISO Brand Collection. The result is a custom light feature with an intricate architectural configuration that is visible from each level and from each point of view, thereby making an impact every time guests enter the hotel or exit their rooms.
Despite our efforts to push the boundaries of design-engineering and what is possible to fabricate, the best policy is to inform the client when an element is not possible to fabricate. The right partner is transparent and provides design solutions that fit. The right partner will source the right materials and provide detailed drawings and engineering solutions for challenging one-of-a-kind fabrications. The right partner will provide a deadline for when approvals are required in order to meet all timelines and budgetary constraints.
Bespoke lighting is a rewarding endeavour because no two light fixtures are the same. We are on a mission to help clients transform environments with unique solutions and create exclusive guest experiences through through lighting designs and fabrication. Bespoke creations give us the opportunity to invent and help bring dreams to reality. This is what inspires our craft every day.