Leading lighting design consultants, Lighting Design International (LDI) unveil one of their most recent projects, to overhaul the lighting of the famed hotel, The Dorchester.
Having stood proud on London’s famous Park Lane since 1931, The Dorchester is an iconic hotel ubiquitous with luxury. Having achieved its status as a Grade II listed building in 1981, the architectural grandeur of Sir Robert McAlpine’s ‘perfect hotel’ is world-renowned.
LDI has a long-established history of working with The Dorchester, making them the ideal fit for the most recent lighting overhaul at the famed hotel.
LDI was commissioned to design lighting schemes for renovations to The Promenade, Artist Bar, patisserie and florist shop, as well as external areas including the façade, forecourt, garden and canopy.
The new lighting designs form part of an extensive programme of renovations to the hotel. The aim was to use innovative design techniques, world-class artists and an array of imaginative installations to highlight the magic and majesty of the hotel for many years to come.
The LDI team wanted to deliver a lighting scheme that celebrated the iconic and historic hotel, while concealing as much of the lighting as possible. Their main goal was to reflect The Dorchester’s inimitable vibrant spirit and convivial soul, without disturbing the ornate architecture and heritage features of the Grade II building.
The Promenade is a public area on the ground floor of the hotel where guests have breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner and other refreshments. To ensure a welcoming ambience at all times of the day, LDI has introduced colour-changing lighting into the plaster alcove. This is programmed to be a cool white in the morning and get warmer as the day progresses. By the evening it takes on a gold hue, matching the luxury and exuberant feel of the hotel.
A number of lanterns in the Promenade, which are an original feature, have been restored. New linear lighting along the top of the lanterns has been added, which is completely concealed below. This lighting matches the cove with the colour temperatures synced so they work in harmony together. Linear lighting on the crown of the lantern ensures consistency throughout the ceiling, with no dip in the middle.
Underneath the lanterns sit four miniature downlights, spotlighting the position where the plates sit on the tables below. This is to provide a beautiful ambience with warm white light coming from the decorative element, whilst still achieving the focus from the architectural lighting.
The Promenade features a number of beautiful gold gilded columns – each with four uplights to highlight the gold gilding at the crown, creating a dramatic effect, especially in the evening.
All of the decorative lighting across the Promenade is warm white, 2200K.
The Artist Bar is a focal point as you walk through the Promenade, which is set in the space formerly known as the Crystal Bar prior to the renovation. Here, LDI has used tunable white lighting to enhance the beautiful shades, with the lighting set more towards the blue spectrum.
The bar features a lot of mirrors and crystals, as well as different finishes, setting the space apart from the gold of the Promenade. One of the most challenging details is behind the bar, due to the features made from Lalique crystals. LDI has uplit each feature alongside a mini downlight in front, behind and in between each feature. The downlights in between the crystal features highlight the gold leaf finish of the front face of the counter. The others ensure a 3D effect is achieved while allowing all the beautiful parts of the crystal to be appreciated.
Lalique crystal features heavily in the bar and LDI worked collaboratively with their team to ensure that the fittings were discreet enough to fit into the spaces around their installations – including the precious vase that takes pride of place behind the bar. LDI illuminated this with linear detail up and down the bottle display, the base and downlights within the alcove in which it is housed.
Most of the downlights in the space serve the purpose of illuminating the artwork as well as the carpet. The carpet is a replica of the original that was fitted when the hotel first opened, and is an iconic feature of the Dorchester.
Further discreet lighting has been added by LDI to the signages dotted around; such as the ballroom, restaurant and other areas. This has been fulfilled through subtle linear lighting.
Moving to the lighting in the lobby, two pieces of artwork are showcased in this area – a landscape piece and a piece created from real honeycomb gold. The challenge here was to give the artwork texture. To secure this, LDI used a combination of surface-mounted downlights which help to illuminate the concierge and reception, while ensuring the artwork is highlighted to show the gold to its full potential.
LDI carefully ensured the wood panelling behind the artwork was not illuminated, as, due to the glossy surface, it would have reflected the light and been a distraction.
Mirroring the illumination of the columns in the Promenade, the columns in the lobby are uplit in the same way. Not only does this deliver continuity, but it also adds to the verticality of the space by using uplights at the top.
Across the lobby a number of urns are installed, and these have been illuminated from the front and the back to provide multiple layers of light. Flowers on the console table are lit with a dramatic narrow beam of light, while the golf leaf around the top of the lobby’s coves are illuminated with a mini spotlight to really highlight their detailing.
Another area of the hotel that has been reimagined is the Florist. This is a stunning combination of a patisserie and a flower shop, with a very light and airy feel. A lot of attention has been paid to the champagne display, illuminating each label of the bottles. All of the lighting across the florist is now the same colour temperature as the wider scheme.
Columns within the florist shop counter have been lit to mimic those in the Promenade and lobby, while a combination of decorative lights and miniature downlights to the counter provide the right levels of light for the surfaces.
LDI assisted Martin Brudnizki Design Studio with technical advice for the lighting of the hotel’s Vesper Bar, which is named after James Bond. The bar and counter are lit at the front with a panel and bottle display, which has miniature downlights at the top. The bottles have been illuminated with lightboxes.
The ceiling to the bar is so low that the lighting solutions had to be carefully considered and reviewed. Throughout the space, many decorative features and some iconic pieces of work have been illuminated to draw attention to them. Additional lighting has been integrated behind the curtains, adding to the overall levels of the space. Completing the scheme in the Vesper Bar, minimal lighting has been used to create a more intimate atmosphere in the private enclosure.
Completing the colossal overhaul, the guestrooms corridor lighting has been upgraded to highlight the carpet. The bases of the corridor columns have been uplit, alongside the coffer end domes. These historic domes have been restored and the lighting has been greatly improved.
Arianna Ghezzi, Associate at Lighting Design International, said “With some elements of the building being so historic, we had to be flexible in our approach and adapt the scheme as it progressed. For example, the uplights to the columns were planned to be recessed into the marble floor, but as this is an original feature and was being restored, so we could not carry out this part of the design. A new plan had to be adopted to ensure all of these heritage details were retained.
Execution of the lighting scheme was also completed while the hotel remained open, which meant that the scheduling and levels of disruption while in the construction phase had to be kept to an absolute minimum.
Consideration was also given to enacting a more sustainable approach to the lighting schemes, utilising lighting control – linked to the astronomical clock – to mirror levels of daylight throughout the year, in order to conserve power during the lighter months.
We are so pleased with the result of the lighting schemes delivered throughout The Dorchester as these add to the splendour of the hotel.”