Focus on Focus
Staff -- Interior Design, 8/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
"Lighting is the unwavering partner of architecture. It's what adds the theatricality," says Focus Lighting president Paul Gregory, the firm's principal designer, as he sits to spill a few illuminating thoughts from his bag of tricks. He started out in actual theatrical lighting, working on over 100 productions in five years—a background that's certainly helpful when you're at the helm of a bustling lighting-design studio.
According to Gregory, his team pinpoints the desired emotions for a space, then uses lighting as the tool to elicit those feelings. "It's a blend of technical expertise and artistic conception," he continues. "Light creates a composition that has a frame, a focal point, a foreground, and a background."
At the Brazilian fashion designer Carlos Miele's New York flagship by Asymptote, the folds and stitches of the clothing are bathed in soft light from unseen sources. The dresses take on a sculptural quality, and shoppers feel like they're in a gallery, drawn to glowing objects on display.
Of course, lighting is crucial in hospitality environments, of which Focus has handled many. At the Rockwell Group's Bar Americain Restaurant, the balance of white and amber light gives the sense of perpetual candlelight—great for looking more appealing to your date. In the lobby of Atlas New York, a residential building, Stephen Alton Architect used a wall of mirrored cubes, placed at different angles, to frame and refocus people's view. Gregory then enhanced the effect by illuminating the area beyond.
Daroff Design's Brûlée: The Dessert Experience, 32 Degrees—at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City—revolves around fiber optics. They're delivered via cables that spill down from the ceiling like strands of spaghetti, peppered with spots of light that shift as the day passes. During the afternoon, the crisp white-lit space is a dessert-only restaurant. At night, it morphs into a bar bathed in a reddish amber light. Changing light also works its magic at W New York–The Tuscany, transforming the hotel's Audrey Lounge from a bright and airy breakfast room to a dusky bar.
But all these examples pale in comparison to the case of the Chilean telecommunications company, deregulated in 1995. As a brand-enhancing move to maintain customer loyalty, the company decided to light up Santiago's ENTEL Tower. So, for the top of the 417-foot-high concrete spire, Focus designed shifting colored lights that radiate beams over the city. An image of this beacon now appears on Chile's paper currency.
255 West 101st Street, New York, NY 10025; 212-865-1565; focuslighting.com.