SGM's latest pioneering LED lighting effect has made its world debut in the iconic Playboy Club London.
The venue, featuring contemporary casino, The Dining Room restaurant, bars and cocktail lounge has been reopened on two floors in Mayfair's Old Park Lane — 30 years after it closed — and now joins the portfolio of London Clubs International in a partnership with Playboy Enterprises International.>
It is in The Cottontail Lounge, where the legendary playboy bunnies administer table service to their premium weekend guests, that two 5-meter diameter SGM LED ceiling starbursts, each comprising 866 tiny 34mm white LED balls, change the atmosphere by dramatically colour washing the venue through the spectrum of the rainbow. This is accompanied by a vertical SGM LED curtain at the rear, the reflection of which adds further depth and dimension to the space.
In total just under 2500 balls have been strung along four-core cable, vertically and horizontally, clipped together by integration company TMC, who won a competitive tender after working regularly on LCI's casino portfolio over the years.
Responsible for the original concept of the room were interior designers / architects Jestico + Whiles. However, it was after London West End club consultants, Marc Merran and Dan Ferris were brought into the equation that the newly-named Cottontail Lounge started to take shape. “They were adamant that they didn't want any conventional disco-style moving heads — and in any case the low ceiling height wouldn't permit it,” noted Shaun Doyle, whose company Shaun Doyle Management has project managed the fit-outs of LCI's last six casinos.
He tasked TMC's Martin Tarpy, who led the installation team, with finding an innovative and dynamic ceiling effect that would be manipulative, flexible, and could be customized to display graphics such as the club's famous Bunny head motif and specially created events like the Gumball Rally 3000 which Playboy Club London has hosted.
After a call to SGM's UK reseller Ian Kirby at LED, he and Shaun Doyle were soon watching in amazement a YouTube video of the LED Balls' spectacular pre-launch at Frankfurt's Prolight+Sound expo a month before — learning that the design inspiration behind the product was Danish lighting pioneer Peter Johansen. “Knowing that it was Peter's design and that Ian [Kirby] was selling it immediately filled me with confidence,” said Doyle. “It was like having an old trustworthy team back together!”
Flexibility was essential since the starbursts would be arriving late in the process — after the CCTV and sprinklers had been fitted, acknowledged Martin Tarpy. “With the SGM LED Balls we knew we had found the solution; it had an attractive price point, it could be set flush to the ceiling and the fact that each finger on the two classic Starbursts could be cut to length meant we could design the bursts without intruding on the other services and provide dramatic colour washes. With so many balls it was quite time-consuming but it couldn't have been more straightforward to install.”
Each ceiling â€˜finger' of light extends on average to 2.5m, while the 750-pixel media display behind the rear tinted glass wall at the back is screened off by a track-mounted gauze curtain, in a bookable seating area.
The secret of the SGM LED ball solution is that each pixel can be mapped and addressed individually, so that lo-res video signals can be passed — converted in the MADRIX media server and lighting effects generator, and output as DMX commands. With a pitch of 120mm (vertically and horizontally) the display forms a perfect square — yet each pixel outputs less than half a watt. With the solid state solution Playboy Club London does not have to worry either about maintenance or heavy heat dissipation over the heads of its high-rolling customers, as it would with conventional discharge lights.
TMC has also provided the club with a library of scene sets, all accessible by a user-friendly touch screen interface — which takes its place in a high-specification DJ booth.
“Our objective was to flood the venue with LED colour and have the gauze curtain at the back part like a theatre reveal — and this we have achieved,” summarized Shaun Doyle — who provided much of the creative input, along with the venue's operations director, Adam Roberts. “This product has been very well thought out and with this level of control easily available we can write messages and put logos up at will. We are all delighted with the tremendous impact the SGM balls have created.”
Adam Roberts agreed. “This innovative lighting provides one of the best club feels in London — it's simple to operate but highly effective, and we have received many positive comments. The variations available to instantly adapt the mood of the room are especially impressive.”
In addition to the casino and members lounge, Playboy Club London hosts Salvatore's Bar (cocktail maestro Salvatore Calabrese's signature bar), Players Bar, Gentlemen's Tonic (a traditional barbershop and grooming salon), and a â€˜designer' smoking terrace.
The installation was overseen by PM, Shaun Doyle and Bob Turley of quantity surveyor, Emeny Turley Partnership Ltd (ETP). Phelan Construction Ltd were the main building contractors, Hensall Mechanical Services Ltd were responsible for the mechanical