Give the architects at Rockwell Group a giant box of crayons and you'll get a colorful interior. Add multilayered lighting by Focus Lighting and you'll get Crayola, a retail store and studio in Arundel Mills Mall in Baltimore, MD. “The idea was to make the store an interesting and interactive space to showcase Crayola's products,” says Sepp Spenlinhauer, of Eclectic Precision, who served as senior lighting designer for the project, working with Focus Lighting principal Paul Gregory and assistant designer Christine Caracciolo.

Take a client whose main products are crayons and markers, and it's only natural that color should be a prime player in the design scheme. “We collaborated with Rockwell Group to conceive an interior that exploited color in every way we could think of,” says Spenlinhauer. So, color it is, with a meandering River of Color, a 200'-long, 4'-wide path of 11 vibrantly colored floor tiles, winding around the store (above). A pendant-mounted track system with flexible connectors centered over the river was used to provide the correct location to light the river and the end caps of the merchandise units. Focus Lighting worked with Times Square Lighting to modify standard fixtures for use with a 100W narrow-spot reflector and an integral 6" snoot/color holder.

“In order to maintain the open, inviting feeling, most of the lighting was at 16' [above finished floor] or higher,” says Spenlinhauer. “This presented a challenge with the high light levels required by the retail space and the need to allow the colored surfaces to glow with vibrancy. To make it all work, a tightly-controlled system to light the merchandise was required.” Times Square track heads with narrow-spot 70W CMH PAR-30 lamps, with 4" snoots and lenses, highlight the rolling displays and wall merchandise, while the sloped, floating ceilings have custom RSA three-head fixtures, with 70W CMH PAR-30 adjustable accents in the two outer heads and a 100W CMH ED17 fixed downlight in the middle head to provide a general wash. Ambient lighting is provided by Prescolite 6" aperture 42W CFL downlight/wall-washers, Spero four-lamp 42W CFL pendant domes, A&L pendant-mounted two-lamp T8 6" squares, and Prudential galvanized two-lamp T8 pendants with linear louvers.

“One of the bigger design questions for this very colorful interior was, ‘What is the backdrop?’” asks Spenlinhauer. “During design development the vertical wall was a very pale purple-white from the floor up to 18', a medium purple from 18' to 24', and the ceiling a darker purple. We mocked this up and found that the pale purple-white was too high, and the architect agreed to bring the middle-purple color down to 12'. This gave us the opportunity to light ‘the wrapper,’ providing a visual continuity and ‘tie-together’ element between the retail space and the studio.”

Mounted with the track system, to keep the ceiling clutter minimized, is a continuous row of Lamar two-lamp T8 fluorescent reflector strips with custom black-painted “tops,” side-mounted at 16' and 18'. “To prevent the wall from feeling flat and to compensate for the fluorescent lamps' inability to make a good purple color, one lamp is colored red-purple and the other a blue-purple,” Spenlinhauer explains. “The effect is very rich and the wall has a velvety appearance.”

A tent-like fabric ceiling in the Creativity Studio, where kids of all ages get to play with Crayola products, has sails of heavy spandex, with lights placed at the edges of the fabric to graze the back and use the stretch fabric mesh as a louver to minimize the view of the fixtures. The sails are lit with 45 Kim 400W metal-halide floodlights with custom-made snoot/color holders and three shades of blue glass filters from Special F/X (to match Rosco 68 Sky Blue, R69 Brilliant Blue, and R80 Primary Blue), and mounted on adjustable unistrut frames that allow for mounting the fixtures diagonally along the edges of the sails. The glass color filters were sandblasted on one side to provide an even wash on the back of the fabric.

Working closely with Maine-based fabric manufacturer Moss Inc., Spenlinhauer designed an internally-lit wedge-shaped fabric box to accent the studio area. Lighter than the 8' fluorescent strip used to light them, the 8'-long, 5'-high, and 18"-deep internally lit wedges have an aluminum frame covered by a two-piece fabric sock with printed images. “The back and sides are a solid purple spandex and the face is a digitally printed spandex,” he says. “They assemble with a simple zipper, which allows for cleaning and/or replacement of the images.”

The Million Dollar Marker area has a rectangular truss hung with four sets of Times Square PAR-38 tracklights connected to a dimmer pack and two High End Systems Studio Spot® 250 moving lights over a black-and-white-painted Volkswagen bug. The Studio Spots are programmed with sweeps, color changes, and chases inspired by the TV show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Located at the front window, customers can draw on the car with markers while the lights place them in the spotlight. This space also includes one Elektralite CP3 playback controller, one NSI four-channel dimmer, and 48 Times Square 120W PAR-38 track heads with sparkle hoods.

Four party rooms are accented with low-voltage LED strips by ilight, and bright enough to pop with color. “The LEDs create an effect similar to neon, which is great for a kid's store,” says Spenlinhauer. “Two pencil lines of color stripe down the side walls of the rooms. They create dramatic moments when the birthday cakes are brought out!”