Creating intimacy in a 10,000-sq.-ft. (900 sq. m) club was one of the primary goals in the lighting of OHM Lounge, a two-story dining and dancing experience that opened a little over a year ago in the Flatiron district of New York City. "We wanted to create pockets of intimacy in this large space, and tie them together visually," says Ken Ventry of Focus Lighting.
Ventry served as project lighting designer in collaboration with principal LD Paul Gregory. The architect/interior designer for the club was Paul Carroll, who designed the layout of the space and chose the various textiles, textures, and finishes for the furniture and walls.
"We also wanted to create excitement on the dance floor," Ventry explains, noting that the overall feel of the club is not a retro disco look. "We wanted it to feel less pulsating, with a slower, sexier feel to go with the music, which has a silkier groove. We wanted the dance floor to respond to this."
The biggest challenge that Ventry and Gregory faced was in creating a series of interesting small spaces and making each area feel different in style and function. "We used light to join nine different areas to create a series of intimate zones whose look is unified by color," says Gregory. "There are lots of cool little spaces tied together by the lighting."
The main floor, or street level area of the club, is divided into the principal dance floor, a long serpentine bar, a ground floor dining area, a small bar, raised platforms, a mezzanine for dining, and restrooms. A subterranean level contains another lounge area and smaller dance floor. "The first look you get is framed by the bar on the left and raised seating platforms on the right with the dance floor at the far end," says Gregory.
"Existing architectural elements were incorporated into the overall design scheme," adds Ventry. For example, structural columns became a design statement, as they cut through from the lower dining area into the mezzanine above. Embedded into the floor are Lumiere adjustable in-ground accent fixtures with brass covers. These send soft illumination right up the columns to create a canopy of light over the dining tables. Lucifer xenon striplights are tucked behind the banquettes to create hidden light for the diners.
Installed in the lower level restrooms are Lightning Bug Ltd.'s Italian Prisma Tartanuga small round fixtures, which have a nautical look. "They don't take up much room and seemed appropriate for the subterranean space," says Ventry, who notes that the lighting throughout the club is considered an integral component of the architecture. "It is infused into the space, not just added afterwards."
The lower level dance floor has disco equipment from American DJ Supply recycled from a former club in the same space. There are also black cylindrical Halo track fixtures with MR-16 lamps to add sparkle to the room.
A rich amber glow on the lower level comes from the use of Litelab's LTX Lite Trax sandwiched as uplights between wrought-iron screens with a copper-mesh wire and the wall. The color is reinforced with a mustard-yellow paint on the wall.
The same LTX Lite Trax are used to make a major design statement on the upper level as well. The back wall of the club (which runs along the south end of the building) is lined with glass block, with certain sections sandblasted for extra diffusion. Behind the wall is a four-circuit porcelain socket track fitted with Philips PAR-38 halogen lamps with dichroic filters.
"These are dimmable so we crossfade from blue to red to green," explains Ventry, who points out that circuits one and three run together to create a deep blue, with circuit two for green and four for red. "We used twice as much blue for extra saturation of the dichroics in front of the incandescent lamps.
"The color-changing runs on random patterns," Ventry continues. "It depends on the setting selected by the manager, but there is a nice, one-minute crossfade. The wall changes slowly behind you, and the next time you look it is a different color and energy." The color varies from blood red to cool blue as the wall creates a focal point in the room.
The main dance floor is lit with six High End Systems Intellabeams(R), four hung at the corners of the dance floor while the other two are more central. They are hung close to the 18' (5m) ceiling to keep the area above the dance floor as open as possible. "The Intellabeams can sweep the dance floor as well as the bar and architectural elements of the club," says Ventry. "They help bring the energy of the dance floor onto the people and tie in with the slow color-fading wall. Their contrast in speed of movement creates excitement."
Additional equipment recycled from the club's former occupants include pin spots that allow for tight beams of light to be projected down onto the dancers, as well as color projectors that add straight cones of color cutting into the space. PAR-64s are also hung right below the ceiling.
The color-changing LTX Lite Trax are also used in two curved 8'-high acrylic walls that delineate the restrooms. Custom-ordered for the job, the Lite Trax have flexible joints to follow the curves. "This is the same system as the back wall, but with short channels, rather than a long extrusion, to make a radius," says Ventry. The repeat of the color-changing system helps unify the separate areas of the club.
"Working within a limited budget, we had to find ways to use less sophisticated equipment to achieve comparable lighting results. There are fewer ambient fixtures with more highlights on architectural elements," Ventry adds. Designed within these parameters, the architectural lighting in the bar area is a good example of a simple yet effective solution.
To accent the top of the bar, Times Square Lighting PAR-36 low-voltage pin spots with very narrow beams are used with assorted Rosco gels to create pools of saturated color. The palette ranges from the extremely warm R318 (Mayan Sun) and R21 (Golden Amber) to the cooler R39 (Skelton Exotic Sangria), R65 (Daylight Blue), R68 (Sky Blue), R93 (Blue Green), and R101 (Light Frost).
The bullnose, or curved front edge, of the bar is lit with the same Lucifer linear xenon striplights hidden behind the banquettes to once again tie different areas together visually. "The xenon light adds a rich, warm glow to architectural elements such as 1930s elevator dials," notes Vestry. An exposed brick wall behind the bar adds a natural hue and texture in an otherwise modern environment and softens up the space near the dance floor.
There are three systems in place to control the various lighting units in the club. A Lutron Nova T Star and Grafik Eye system is used to control the architectural lighting while two keyboards and four dimmer packs from Digital Lighting Systems control the color-changing walls. Both of these systems are tucked inside an electrical closet on the main floor. The third system is the High End Systems LCD Lighting Controller used for the theatrical fixtures. This sits in the DJ booth at the edge of the dance floor, while the dimmers are in a second electrical closet nearby.
"The goal was to create an enjoyable environment where the lighting works in a cohesive way and creates beautiful vistas within the space," says Gregory. "We created cool little environments with the intensity of the lights down around the people. You have a great view through the bar and the restaurant and onto the dance floor. There's energy to it and it feels exciting."
Selected Lighting Equipment (1) High End Systems LCD Lighting Controller (6) High End Systems Intellabeams (10) High End Systems Trackspots (30) Lumiere MR-16 adjustable fixtures (8) Lightning Bug Prisma Tartanuga fixtures (4) Bega wall sconces (28) Halo MR-16 track fixtures (86) Times Square Lighting PAR-36 and PAR-38 fixtures 300' Lucifer linear xenon striplights 160' Litelab LTX Lite-Trax Lutron Nova T Star and Grafik Eye control system Digital Lighting Systems keyboards and dimmer packs Philips MR-16, PAR-36, PAR-38 lamps Rosco color filters and dichroic lenses