In the recently opened Gieffeffe store in Milan's exclusive Porta Venezia, the creation of a suitable ambience for world-famous Italian stylist Gianfranco Ferre's fashions has been entrusted to 12 Martin Pro RoboColor IIIs installed by Sangalli Tecnologie per lo Spettacolo, also involved in another key Martin installation involving over 100 Italian Mercedes-Benz concessionaires, with "spots" and "corners" featuring the German firm's Class A automobile. The Martin color changers, mounted on the Gieffeffe store columns, project programmed color-change sequences on the store walls.

An insight on this use of lighting manufactured by a firm with its roots in club and entertainment lighting comes from Martin sales manager Pio Nahum: "Architectural lighting is traditionally white, but the crossover from various tones of white to the use of actual color was relatively simple," he says.

"We've always developed a wide range of color changers, and the instruments used in interior architectural applications such as the Gieffeffe store are mainly small, powerful color changers, such as the RoboColor Pro 400.

"Martin Professional is interested in developing this very large market as an alternative to the club industry, which has its ups and downs," Nahum continues. "After initially using instruments designed for club use, we have now passed on to developing them specifically for this type of application. Our contacts with architects have, in fact, been carried a step further, and we are now also working on projects for outdoor architectural lighting design, often used to attract the public's attention to particular buildings for commercial or business purposes.

"As well as these adaptable, easily installed fixtures used to create atmosphere in venues such as the prestigious Gieffeffe store," Nahum concludes, "Martin fixtures are also used in other installations to give pizzazz to the products on display and are now becoming sales tools in store windows and showrooms." Taking a more theatrical approach, the Mercedes "spots" and "corners" use show lighting which is commonplace in car launches and shows. What Mercedes-Benz (helmed in Italy by Jochen Prange) decided to do is basically use the same idea on a smaller scale.

These setups, in which prospective clients can relax and read a magazine or even do some net-surfing, are fitted and furnished with natural wood and aluminum and staffed by a specially chosen young sales force. The center of attraction is the Mercedes-Benz Class A, suitably highlighted with a system comprising an Imagescan and a combination of MAC 500 and 600 fixtures which vary in number according to the size of the location. This project also features multimedia setups as well as the actual automobiles showcases Mercedes-Benz merchandise by world-famous designers.

The idea originated in Italy, but the Milan spot in Galleria Vittorio Emanuale was visited by Mercedes-Benz managers from Japan, the US and Belgium, all of whom evidently expressed a desire to do the same idea in their home countries.