One of entrepreneur Ian Schrager's latest projects is his innovative reinvention of Los Angeles' 16-story Mondrian Hotel, which has undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation under his direction. The 189,000-sq.-ft (17,010-sq.-m) hotel with 245 guestrooms bears the unmistakable design imprimatur of Philippe Starck and stands at the top of a hill on Sunset Boulevard, overlooking downtown LA, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. Amenities and features include a gym run by Olympic gold medalist Mark Stevens, a Rande Gerber Whiskey Bar at the pool, a yoga and wellness studio, six indoor and outdoor food and beverage areas helmed by renowned Florentine restaurateur Pino Luongo, and light installations by artist James Turrell.
Continuing the idea of "hotel as theatre" and the art of "lobby socializing" pioneered by Schrager and the late Steve Rubell at the New York Royalton, the Mondrian's lobby is one of the decade's definitive social gathering spots. It can be likened to a stage set, with layers of sheer curtains and luminescent walls. The lobby is a unique manipulation of artificial and man-made light: Natural cloud-like colors with occasional bursts of acid-bright hues create an ethereal atmosphere that soothes but also thrills.
Interestingly, the choice of color changers for the creation of the "light painting" used to create such effects fell to an Italian manufacturer as yet without a US distributor: Fly of Mantua. Eight Trichroma 1000H color changers are fitted with 1,000W halogen lamps and 45¡ flood optics (18¡ and 33¡ fresnel and 22¡ PC lenses are also available).
Says Fly founder Daniele Canuti, "Trichromas can be fitted with 1,000 or 1,200W halogen lamps, 1200MSR discharge or MSD700 lamps, and are particularly well-suited for architectural lighting. We recently fitted them with FLK 575W lamps too, and all models can be used at 110/120V as well as European mains voltage. They have built-in electronic dimmers and are easy to install-all they need is mains power and DMX. But with their programmable automatic color change capability, they can also be used as freestanding units."
Clark Johnson of New York-based Johnson Schwinghammer collaborated with Arnold Chan of London's Isometrix on the lighting design. The US firm, Johnson says, acted as "part lighting designer, part technical advisor, part purchaser, and part installer" on the project, Schrager's first in LA.
About the Trichromas, Johnson says, "This particular type of product was chosen because what was required was a fixture with very high light output, to overcompensate for daylight on the light wall. Trichromas were chosen following a mockup executed in Europe to show Starck how they would work, and that we didn't feel comfortable using a more available local product. They're also beautiful to look at." Marsha Stern, who works on special assignments for Johnson Schwinghammer, says the instruments are hung on a pipe in a portion of the luggage room just outside the lobby, and are programmed via an ETC Express 24/48 console.
Lighting the hotel lobby's "backdrop," these fixtures are used for color accenting and to highlight Starck's sober, elegant architectural structure, plus his original pieces for the hotel. "When the unit's CYM trichromatic color mixing system, which normally offers 256 color shades, is controlled via three separate channels, operators have no less than 10 million levels at their disposal," Canuti says. Besides architectural applications, the instruments have also been used in TV studios in Italy and Holland, and at Disneyland Paris and the Tren de la Costa theme park in Argentina.
Fly's lack of a US distributor was no stumbling block for the Mondrian assignment, says Canuti, as the firm can provide spares within 24 hours. But, with such a prestigious installation to its credit, discussions are underway to find a Stateside rep for the products.