If you want to take the pulse of contemporary club life, you need to be in South Beach, the perpetually trendy Miami Beach neighborhood, where people worship the sun by day and the disco ball by night. The latest temple for club congregants is Goddess, a venue that gives a whole new spin to the scene. LD Joe Zamore, of the Atlanta-based firm Zamore & Associates Lighting Design, is an old hand at the game--his many Miami-area clubs include glamorous pit stops such as Glam Slam, Amnesia, Shadow Lounge, and Mars Bar--but Goddess is a truly innovative club, both in concept and design.
According to Zamore, Goddess was conceived as "the most elaborate ladies' lounge imaginable," based on the undoubtedly sound theory that if you build a club that attracts lots of beautiful women, then high-spending men will surely follow. The club's owners went on a worldwide shopping spree, bringing back a pile of statues, temple walls, and other (mostly) Asian artifacts to create a distinctively detailed interior that spells out the goddess theme--it looks like the temple of Angkor Wat, with full bar service.
Interestingly, Zamore says, "The VIP lounge consumes 3/4 of the club. There's more dancing going on there than in the club," which has a relatively small dance floor. The challenge for him, then, was to blend theatrical and architectural lighting techniques in one room. One of the most striking aspects of Goddess' design is that there are more architectural than entertainment fixtures in the club's equipment list. Naturally, they're used to provide gorgeously saturated color washes and theatrical accent lighting, creating a dramatic setting for social interaction. But when the music takes over the lighting needs to move with the dancers, too.
The key, says Zamore, is to use "architectural fixtures that function as theatrical units." For example, "I took wrought iron chandelier frames and had custom silk pendants designed; they were then loaded with Color Kinetics LED color changers. Then we added in the AVR [Color Master] color changers, which I don't think anyone else has used yet. [They're from the UK-based company Abstract Lighting; the Miami-based company Tracoman, which worked on the project, is Abstract's US distributor]. The AVRs are basically MR-16 lamps with dichroic color changers." As architectural units with extensive color-changing capabilities, the AVR Color Master and the Color Kinetics units create the club's parade of colorful looks.
However, Zamore adds, "I wanted lighting that looked in period with the interior but that could also function in dance mode." Thus, "the [Color Kinetics] chandeliers can fade, chase, or scroll. The AVR units can change the entire lounge with a number of colors. These units create beautiful architectural touches--but when you have 40 color changers in a 30'x30' (9x9m) room, you can also create some amazing effects."
Zamore's approach, he says, is to "light the room in layers," blending architectural and theatrical looks. "Regine [the famed doyenne of nightclubs in Paris, New York, and Miami] taught me years ago that first you make the people look beautiful. So the first layer is a dark pink dichroic color wash from the architectural track lights and recessed fixtures [from Ruud Lighting]. On top of that we have to light the artifacts, the walls, the statues, adding in accent and table lighting," which is where a variety of lamps needed to be used. The next layer involves Color Kinetics units and AVR Color Masters, to create color visuals. "Once we did the architectural environment, we layered on the Coemar Prowash fixtures for dance lighting, with Coemar projectors for patterns. So we're talking about 100 architectural fixtures, 10 or 12 intelligent lights, six strobes, 35 Color Kinetics color changers, three dozen AVR color changers, two multicolored laser projectors [from LPD]--and this is just the VIP room!"
The club uses an ETC Unison dimming system, with an ETC LCD architectural control station and also an ETC five-button architectural remote station. Control was an aesthetic as well as a practical issue, says the designer, who states the problem: "I leave and some young rave light operator comes in; now he has 300 architectural fixtures and doesn't know what I intended."
The solution, involving a Martin Professional Light Jockey console and an ETC DMX512 architectural/theatrical interface, was complex: "The light operator is locked out of the architectural settings. I gave him a number of presets to select from; he also has the ability to grab the automatic stuff and play with it. The Light Jockey, which controls the Coemar, Color Kinetics, and AVR units, is interfaced into the ETC system. That was quite a feat--it wanted to take control of the whole ETC rack, and we didn't want that to happen. We had three different people from ETC come to the job site, to get the system to do what I wanted." Under this arrangement, the light operator can keep the dance light hopping without disturbing the basic architectural design.
Another innovation: this project represents Zamore's first encounter with Coemar equipment, also supplied by Tracoman, and, the designer says, "it worked remarkably well. The movement, the color, and the quality of the units were really exceptional. I was a little bit nervous at first, but I was delightfully surprised. It's very good gear."
The new gear was all too appropriate, for a club with unique design challenges. Zamore says, "I've never really had an assignment like this before. Usually, I do an architectural treatment for a lounge in a club. I've never had to do practically the entire club this way." Is this the new wave in club design? Hard to say, but at the moment, Goddess is the newest bit of paradise on the Miami club scene.
Lighting Design Joe Zamore/Zamore & Associates
Installation Contractor TM Sound and Lighting
Installation Technical Director Craig Sherman
Laser Contractor Laser Production Network
Chandelier Shades Crenshaw Lighting
Programming ETC--Steve Welsh Martin--Craig Sherman, Ross Berger, Boyd Betson
Interior Design Lionel Ohayon, LWC Design
Theatrical (10) Coemar 250W Prowashes (6) Coemar 250W Prospots (2) Coemar CF 1200 HEs (10) High End Systems Dataflash AF-1000 strobes (5) custom silk chandeliers (35) Color Kinetics C-30 color changers (30) Color Kinetics iCove 12" LED color-changing strips (10) Color Kinetics iColor LED MR-16 color changers (48) AVR CM50S 50W MR-16 dichroic color changers (3) AVR CMD/16 color drive box (1) JEM hazer (1) 24" mirror ball (2) LPD Nova 50 multicolor laser projector (1) LPD CD playback system
Architectural (8) Ruud Lighting CLO440 400W metal-halide canopy lights (8) Ruud Lighting CL7440 400W metal-halide canopy lights (120) Beach Lighting recessed MR-16 housings and trims (200) Lightwave Research dichroic filters (48) Ruud Lighting PAR-36 12V gimbal track fixtures (60) Ruud Lighting PAR-20/-30 track fixtures (24) Ruud Lighting 8' 2-circuit tracks
Control Systems ETC Unison 24x2.4kW dimmers ETC LCD architectural control station ETC 5-button architectural remote station ETC DMX512 architectural/theatrical interface Martin Professional Light Jockey Lightwave Research Dataflash controller