The objective for the lighting at the new Fera restaurant at Claridge's was to create an elegant, young and fresh interior in the double-height space. We wanted to respect the Art Deco glamour of the hotel by keeping obvious interventions to a minimum, which is why, although there's light all around, you can hardly see any fittings. The scheme has been shortlisted for the Hospitality and Leisure Lighting Project of the Year award at this year's Lux Awards.
We worked closely with interior designer Guy Oliver of Oliver Laws to celebrate the Art Deco styling in new ways, by concealing lights seamlessly into all the details for maximum visual impact, and by creating a scheme that could subtly change throughout the day.
Here are 10 things we did to create the right lighting effect at Fera.
1 The 'secret' entrance
The journey into the restaurant begins when guests step through a small doorway from one of the corridors in Claridge’s. A tiny space – once used for storage – now provides the first impression of Fera. Surrounded by a red velvet curtain, the restaurant’s name Fera (Latin for wild), is projected on to the marble floor by a framing projector hidden in the ceiling. It’s the first indication of what is happening inside.
2 Reclaimed fittings
After this theatrical entrance, guests come into a stunning rotunda. The lighting here is focused on the historic gilded ceiling, using the old pencil-shaped fins that once decorated the walls throughout the restaurant, and have now been reused as diffusers to cover a light strip, creating a soft, diffuse glow around the perimeter. The only other light in the rotunda is a single downlight set deep in the ceiling rose to pinspot the marble floor with the pattern that recalls the restaurant’s name.
3 Cool and warm
The rotunda’s ribbed glass entrance to the main restaurant is backlit using LED strip. The colour temperature of the strip is tuneable, so the light can shift from 3000K at lunchtime when daylight is still coming through the windows, to a warm and intimate 2200K at night, almost candle-like in quality.
4 Old and new
Other elements that were reused in the main restaurant area are the gold leaf-covered niches, which now glow thanks to a backlit shelf set into their base. Inside the shelf is simply a bare LED strip – the shelf’s mirrored edges conceal the dots, providing a homogeneous effect. The wall lights that frame the niches are another feature that has been refurbished and reused.
5 Layers of light
The main restaurant area is double-height, but because it’s lit at multiple layers and levels, it still has an intimate atmosphere. One of the low-level lighting elements used is the glow underneath the banquettes.
6 A burst of sunlight
The drama of the double-height space is emphasised by the impressive backlit sunburst laylights. These use the same tuneable LED strips, again cooler during the day and warmer at night. Two separately controlled inner and outer rings of strip are used, to give contrast and life to the skylight.
7 Discreet spotlighting
Detailed within the beams behind what is disguised as dark grilles for ventilation are the remote-controlled pinspots that focus on each individual table, creating an intimate feeling in the restaurant, while remaining completely concealed.
8 Making ironwork sparkle
The tables closer to the windows are on a slightly raised level, separated from the rest of the restaurant area by intricate brass rails. These are given a sparkle thanks to localised lighting carefully detailed into them, bringing the scale to a human level. Again, the high level of detailing conceals the source of the light completely.
9 Invisible light
A special challenge was to light the gigantic eight by four metre mural by American artist Lynn Myers, which creates the background for the whole restaurant. It is cleverly lit with a large bespoke picture light, carefully positioned and finished to blend with the background finishes.
10 Creating drama with shadows
Finally, in the centre of the restaurant is a real tree, another reminder of the origin of the restaurant’s theme. The tree is dramatically lit from above and below, throwing shadows to the ceiling and the floor and creating a central focal point.
Katerina Chanioti is a senior lighting designer at Lighting Design International. She'll be speaking about the lighting for Fera at LuxLive on 18 November – register now, it's FREE!
Interior Design: Guy Oliver, Oliver Laws
Photos: Derry Moore