The idea of Canopy of Light originated with DesignWilkes. Principal designer, Jeffrey Wilkes and design director, Sirajul Fahmi, happened to be in Dubai when the forest trees were in bloom. The orange blossoms captured their imagination and gave them their initial inspiration. Canopy of Light fits in with their overall concept for the hotel — the Dubai Riviera. The lobby unites the front of the hotel to the beach side, complete with a crystal garden of dynamic trees.
The styling of the trees is contemporary with a strong focus on the canopy. Its Art Deco approach mimics fine jewellery. DesignWilkes also wanted to incorporate the idea of blown crystal and the lighting effect programmed in. It is symbolic of leaves blowing naturally through the air.
The hotel’s proximity to the beach also influenced the design. DesignWilkes deliberately avoided coloured light, instead opting to replicate the silver sparkle of the water through clear crystal leaves. The design team also added a sand-coloured travertine floor to the lobby, like a sandy beach. The canopy should serve as a welcoming, sheltering space that guests will want to relax in. Daniel Sipula, Preciosa project manager, coordinated the creation of the installation at the firm’s factory in Crystal Valley in the Czech Republic, aligning it with the design intent of DesignWilkes.
“With such a large project, it’s interesting to note that the way the trees looked in the first sketch to the way they look installed in the lobby did not change all that much. DesignWilkes was confident in what they wanted and we were able to produce the trees to their satisfaction,” says Sipula. “Throughout the project, which lasted over two years, I really appreciated the fact that this was designed as a luxury project and that overall vision was achieved. I believe this is one of the most magnificent projects we have done.”
Canopy of Light features 14 trees in three sizes: six small, six medium and two large. The hundreds of leaves are made from hand-blown Bohemian crystal, in two shapes, each in two sizes. The trunks are made from slumped glass and have a champagne matte finish. A special foil finish was added behind the glass of the trunks that not only distribute the light equally, but also provide a softer glow.Integrating with technology
Canopy of Light is especially programmed to produce three different effects: a day scene, a night scene, and then every hour, the lights ‘move’ through the trees. These scenes create motions through the installation, including a downward movement of light through the trunk (hourly), a sparkling effect (night time) and a motion that looks like the wind is blowing through the leaves (day time). All lights, around 500% size (small, medium, large), can be addressed individually. This means a different light effect can be programmed to each tree size and not necessarily the ‘forest’ as a whole.
Preciosa collaborated with Madrix to create the bespoke technology used in Canopy of Light. Madrix designs hardware and software programmes especially for LED lighting. Minor changes to the effects (such as a brightness or speed change) can be done via a simple phone call with one of its technicians. Larger changes such as changing the motion of the leaves or the trunks require a bit more time. New custom effects, like those mentioned above, can also be installed upon request. These options mean the hotel has the opportunity to ‘reinvigorate’ its lobby with fresh lighting scenes as they see fit.
Richard Schaffranek, a member of the Preciosa Innovation Lab team, is the chief technician responsible for infusing the installation with dynamism. “This was a fascinating project to work on because the trees created so many opportunities,” says Schaffranek. “From the leaves to the branches and the trunks, there were numerous possibilities that we could pursue. We settled on three slow-moving effects to give guests something different but subtle to see whenever they pass through the lobby. In addition, we designed the entire system in such a way that the hotel would have full flexibility when it comes to changing the light effects. What is special to me about Canopy of Light is that it realises Preciosa’s vision to connect people through light.”
“What we are seeing in the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, which features the Canopy of Light installation prominently in its lobby, is setting a new standard in the luxury hospitality field,” says Martin Fryzelka, managing director, Preciosa Gulf. “The Middle East is a very competitive market and hotels, restaurants and cultural spaces are always looking for something outstanding to make themselves memorable, and to stand out from the competition. Dynamic and interactive lighting installations not only bring something extraordinary to a space, but they also create opportunities for people to connect with each other and with the venue.”
“It has been a rewarding experience to have had the opportunity to work with visionary designers, such as DesignWilkes” says Fryzelka. “In this region, hospitality developers are ready and willing to create something special for their guests. With our expertise, which seamlessly combines tradition and cutting-edge technology, we are able to provide the materials and know-how to designers to enable them to meet their clients’ demands for amazing installations.”