London Lightens Up pix
Richard Hywel Evans had a little fun with the Modular and Moroso showroom
Ian Phillips -- Interior Design, 10/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
A fleece-lined aperture in the form of a flock of sheep dominates the limestone-floored front of Richard Hywel Evans Architecture & Design's London showroom for Modular Lighting Instruments and Moroso. Diablo High Dynamix pendant fixtures form a row above Konstantin Grcic's ottoman, made from a techno-polymer composite.
A velvet-lined aperture shaped like a heron offers a glimpse of Oxford Street. A curtain of fiber optics spills from a grizzly cutout lined in synthetic bearskin.
Three embedded Downut lights and Patricia Urquiola's wool-covered ottoman accompany the rear side of the sheep aperture.
Yacht builders used gel-coated fiberglass to sheathe the central wall.
At the rear of the showroom, a niche serves as a projection surface for a multiple color-change sequence system as well as PowerPoint presentations for customers.
A stainless-steel tiled platform showcases up-lighting.
A steer in laser-cut mild steel is suspended from a ceiling crisscrossed with painted MDF strips.
The showroom occupies 3,200 square feet on the ground level of Centre Point, a 1966 building by R. Seifert & Partners.
Urquiola's lacquered table anchors the display area for modular lighting channels.
One of the platform's laminated-glass panels encloses Ilti Luce's Skilled 03 fixture, plus a catalog.
The audience sits in Ross Lovegrove's polyamide chairs, which stack when not in use. Urquiola designed the steel-and-foam lounge chair.
|You could be forgiven for thinking that Richard Hywel Evans has a wildlife fetish. Take a look at his London showroom for Modular Lighting UK and Moroso—there's animal imagery almost everywhere. From the street, you can see white partitions punctured with cutouts shaped like a heron and a flock of sheep. An aperture farther back takes the form of a huge grizzly, its contours playfully lined with artificial brown bearskin.
Evans is no architectural Doctor Dolittle, however. He simply drew inspiration from his client, a franchise of Belgian manufacturer Modular Lighting Instruments. "Their ads and marketing literature have always been quite extraordinary in the way they try to capture your attention," Evans says. A current catalog stars Harry Potter–esque giants in a grotto illuminated by Modular's Nomad fixtures. There's also a huge stuffed bear standing on a railway platform, a skunk posing in a warehouse, and a girl sitting rather incongruously in a field, with a dead fish.
"When it came to designing the showroom, we felt we had no boundaries," Evans says. And "no boundaries," ironically, is exactly what he first encountered there. A former furniture showroom, it occupied 3,200 perfectly open-plan square feet on the street level of the iconic Centre Point, an R. Seifert & Partners–designed tower that was once the tallest building in London. "The space had a very 1980's feel to it. Limestone floor, white walls, quite minimal," he recalls.
A shift was obviously required after the family behind the furniture showroom acquired the British franchise of Modular, incorporating LTS Licht & Leuchten and Ilti Luce. The minimalism has been replaced by an animal maximalism that its designer calls "Gothic and theatrical." It's revealed via an intricately choreographed journey through zones loosely defined by partitions of different heights and forms. En route, the animal-shape apertures draw your attention from one zone to the next, and carefully placed sensors activate various lighting effects as you move around. "It's basically quite confusing, so the journey seems longer," Evans explains.
Distortions keep the eye off-balance. "We played with visual sensitivities and judgments of space," he adds. On the ceiling, strips of silver-painted MDF whimsically morph in and out of a grid. At the rear of the showroom, a huge rounded niche appears to have been pulled out of the limestone floor. (The niche's interior surface performs dual functions, displaying not only Modular's multiple color-change sequence system but also the PowerPoint presentations held regularly for architects and interior designers.)
Evans was also keen to demonstrate the effect of the lighting on various materials, such as the common brick of the piers he uncovered. The heron cutout is neatly lined in red velvet. Cuddly white faux lamb's wool spills out from the flock of sheep.
Particular types of light fixtures are displayed in groups. Architectural-scale pendants and sconces occupy the front section, behind the windows. LED strands spill from the furry pelt of the grizzly. Evans devoted another area to modular lighting channels, and he built a stainless-steel tiled platform to show recessed up-lighting. For some of the square tiles, he substituted laminated glass, leaving the mechanisms of certain fixtures fully visible. "It's a sort of X-ray you can walk on," he says.
The showroom houses nearly all the designs from Modular, currently some 200, and Moroso, about 70. As the collections evolve, so will the interior. Substituting one lighting track or chair for another should be a piece of cake. But what about replacing the fixtures embedded in the wall? According to Evans, you could easily cut one out, fill in the hole, and insert a replacement.
That process should be reasonably simple for the partitions of white fiberglass-reinforced gypsum-board. The situation is far more complicated with the main divider, which stands in the center of the showroom like a bubble-gum pink boomerang. Constructed by shipbuilders, it's sheathed in fiberglass with a shiny gel coat, so repairs require a vacuum system used for boat hulls.
At the moment, the pink boomerang remains intact except for one section in the middle. Here, Evans cut out the jagged shape of a comic-strip Pow! as if to suggest the destructive work of a cartoon steer. To clinch the joke, the silhouette of a steer—in laser-cut mild steel—hangs menacingly over the breach.