An insight into lighting with RCL’s David Anderson

Posted in People, Products on 12 July, 2016

Within the lighting product focus in the Q3 |16 issue, SPACE put the spotlight on RCL’s David Anderson…

FullSizeRender2Can you explain the difference between RCL products and other luminaires? 

Remote Controlled Lighting’s (RCL) products have functionality and versatility at their core; with complete control of rotation through both the pan and tilt angles, and control of the lighting intensity from floor level, RCL offers an ideal solution for the hospitality sector, particularly in areas of hotels or resorts which require flexible lighting scenes for different scenarios, such as ballrooms, conference centres, restaurants or bars. This complete control is achieved for the user via a simple hand control similar in size to a TV remote.

In addition to full control of the luminaire via the remote, RCL offers a choice of beam widths and colour temperatures, and their products can be controlled using a number of protocols, from a user-friendly iPad control system, through to complete integration with other lighting scenarios using the DMX protocol.

How is lighting design evolving alongside technology?

Developments in technology mean that lighting designers and architects are considering additional opportunities when specifying lighting schemes for the hospitality sector. For hotel areas that require the lighting to integrate with a full suite of A/V equipment as used in ballrooms or events spaces, specifiers also require luminaires that can be dimmed and refocused to suit each new application and often these will be controlled in parallel from global controls standards, such as DMX.

Technology has also driven how end users, such as a hotel’s in-house event teams, interact with their lighting. The use of iPads can make reconfiguring of lighting scenes a simple task, minimising disruption to spaces, while providing maximum versatility.

What has been your most challenging hotel space to supply for? 

Designing lighting schemes for hotels can be challenging; particularly for large public areas that require regular configuration for multiple scenarios. For the Arora Ballroom at London’s InterContinental O2, RCL were asked to supply luminaires that contributed towards a flexible lighting solution, with multiple scenes and point-by-point adaptions.

The lighting solution for the 3,100sqm pillar-less ballroom required integration of ambient light sources, such as colour-changing LED strips for the ceiling coves, while also offering functional considerations, such as the ability to pin spot areas of interest in different set-ups. This required complex technical elements, including configuring DMX set-ups so that different scenes can be easily used. Many scenes combine the aesthetic and technical lighting, and the delivered solution offers the flexibility to fine-tune scenes with direct control of individual luminaires by the hotel’s event’s teams. With the DMX synchronisation, the luminaires can be controlled to match both the functional need of the Arora, as well as co-ordinate with the required ambience for any given event.

Budget restrictions were also a critical factor for the O2; due to efficiency considerations, elements of the original design had to be amended to meet a strict financial target, yet the hotel saw the economic advantages of remote controlled lighting for the ballroom. With greatly reduced maintenance costs, the ability to configure the lighting without the additional costs of contractor crews, and down-time of the ballroom, the RCL fittings represented a clear long-term investment that fully complied to the client’s budgetary considerations.

What are the benefits from using a lighting product that is versatile?

Versatility and user-friendly lighting is crucial for the hotel market; it’s almost unheard of for all hotel areas to require a completely static lighting scheme throughout the day. The use of different lighting scenes can convert a relaxed mid-afternoon ambience in a lounge, to a lively, visually interesting venue during the evening. High contrast table pin-spotting with light can add glamour and intimacy, while broader washes of light can shape a relaxed ambience, so the lighting of restaurants in hotels can be fine-tuned with easy scene recall to best adapt the space to different sittings.

In event-spaces and ballrooms, operators may be running multiple event types, from a wedding banquet to an industry business function. The consideration of lighting such events varies, and those booking such spaces expect the lighting to fully and correctly reflect the application.

Lighting solutions need to be flexible enough to focus the lighting where required, to be dimmed or switched off completely giving any desired contrast. As such, luminaires have to be fully controllable, ideally from floor level to avoid the downtime of spaces when the lighting scheme is reconfigured and the cost of external contractors and additional equipment such as scaffolding or scissor lifts. Floor level control also means the lighting scenario can be adapted mid-event, adapting the scene from lighting a multi-table banquet, to providing the ideal ambience for a late night disco, for example.

How does lighting design change in different areas of a hotel? 

The requirements and considerations faced when designing lighting schemes for differing areas of hotels or resorts can vary significantly. A number of considerations can affect the design, from desired ambience and co-ordination with the interior styling to more functional considerations, such as flow of footfall through a space, or past areas of interest.

While areas of a hotel can be sub-divided into many different area types, we like to think of three simple areas; firstly, the public, open areas such as lobbies, bars, restaurants and ballrooms. The second area would be the private accommodations and suites, where comfort and homeliness would be emphasised in the design. Finally, back-of-house areas such as kitchens tend to utilise more functional and task focused lighting.

Speaking particularly about the public areas, there are a number of key criteria. Public areas often require both functional lighting aspects (such as the use of different lighting scenes throughout the day, or depending on events hosted) as well as implementing a lighting scenario that crafts an atmosphere unique to each individual space.

Bars, restaurants and ballrooms often require versatility in design; patrons would not expect the same lighting scheme at mid-day as they would, say, in the late evening, so both guest expectations and the function of the space should be treated with sympathy. There are also commercial expectations, the lighting should be designed to ‘sell’ both the space for an enjoyable experience, and to direct visitor’s attention to profitable areas such as the bars or menu boards. Just as hoteliers adapt such spaces, the lighting should also be able to adapt and a flexible solution can aid temporary or seasonal themes, allowing the lighting to complement the hotel’s design.

Since when did lighting become at the forefront of interior design?

As the impressionist master Claude Monet explained: “Form only exists through light and our perception of the world around us is totally dependent upon it”. As such, lighting has often been seen as a crucial element in hotel design, and many architects and interior designers recognise that light serves to give context to all of the other important considerations.

The flow of light in a space helps to define it, the interplay between light and shade offers definition to architectural choices, and emphasises key design features. The right application of light also serves to highlight elements of the design, such as the choice of materials used within a space. Luminaires with excellent colour rendering for example, will reveal tones that may otherwise be flattened or indiscrete – helping colours to ‘pop’. The correct focusing of light will also enhance the materiality, or textures and finishes of objects and their surrounds. The latter is particularly important when feature surfaces have been employed in the interior décor.

Good designers now recognise that varying the lighting scenario (with light focused on different areas or objects within the space, or with different contrasts) helps to create differing ambiences for the same space. This is a critical consideration for areas with mixed use cases.

What do you expect to see next in lighting design?

The predominant trend we foresee in lighting design for the hospitality sector is the greater importance of control, and the considerations when choosing the control type. Designers are appreciating flexible solutions, and now expect dimming of light fittings as a minimum standard. However the progression toward flexible control of the luminaire focus (i.e. where the light is pointed) is definitely a growth area in lighting design for the sector.

There is also a greater appreciation of colour temperature; LED sources allow for different colour temperatures of luminaires, meaning they can choose from a cooler white for a starker or clinical feel, to a warmer offering for a more welcoming, cosy tone, which allows subtle variances in schemes. The option to choose colour temperatures with LED options offers designers greater flexibility in crafting an appropriate aesthetic for their hotel spaces.

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