Enlightening

Sara Manuelli samples the lighting design at three different eating and drinking establishments

Lighting design is largely responsible for creating the right atmosphere in restaurants and bars. From classic to ethnic, lighting designers work closely with architects and designers to conjure up a mood and reinforce the identity of the space.

Most importantly, bars and restaurants need to adapt to different conditions throughout the day and year, as customers and trading conditions change.

The lighting scheme is therefore not just an additional architectural element, but also a more malleable one that can help change the space, with a simple switch of the light. Here are some recent examples served up to the public.

Plateau, London Docklands Design and lighting design: Conran & Partners

‘Lighting is one of the key things to create an atmosphere,’ says Tina Norden, project architect on Conran & Partners’ latest restaurant Plateau.

For the design group, it was essential to create a scheme that would work throughout the day within its setting, a new built, all glass four-storey building in Canary Wharf, with breathtaking views. ‘We created a range of light settings that can be regulated with a button, but can also be overridden if there’s need,’ says Norden. A daytime, lunch solution gives way to an early evening, twilight-inspired one, which then fades to a full night-time option. For special occasions, there is even a party setting.

‘Terence Conran really wanted a mid-century, modern classic feel for the restaurant,’ says Norden, so while the bar/ brasserie features dark blue Bertoia wire chair collection chairs, the more ‘upscale’ restaurant is adorned by Eero Saarinen tulip chairs and marble-top tables.

The lighting solutions reflect the furnishing style, but also skirt the restrictions of not inserting any light fittings on the glass ceilings and windows. In the brasserie, a bright warm space is created by the use of bespoke lighting solutions in the ceiling (plastered-in spotlight cones that project a soft light), angled so as to throw light in the glazed area, as well as free-standing Metta lamps.

The open-plan kitchen, which acts as a divider between the two eating areas, has also a bespoke lighting system. ‘Instead of the conventional, cold fluorescent light that you see in kitchens, we used a normal one that is dimmable,’ says Norden.

In the restaurant, the mid-century feel is complemented by Arco lights by Achille and Piergiacomo Castiglioni, while on each dining table there are small oil lamps to add atmosphere and intimacy. An additional ‘den’ area, reserved for smokers and private parties, features 2m-tall Mite cone sculptural lights by Foscarini, which reinforce the dramatic effect of the purple ceilings and red walls.

Outside in the terrace – also used as dining areas thanks to heat lights installed in the canopy – LED lights have been inserted in the plants and olive trees, to illuminate the foliage.

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