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Boffo Building Fashion Series, New York City, USA

Issue 66 Apr / May 2012 : Retail : Store

Lighting Design: FOCUS LIGHTING

Focus Lighting designed the lighting for a series of five completely unique pop-up shops for this year’s Boffo Building Fashion Series. Through close collaboration with each designer the lighting designs were able to help achieve the highly contrasting visions for these one-of-a-kind shops.

Boffo is a non-profit organisation that educates the public about art and design while providing opportunities for artists and designers to showcase their work. Each year Boffo organises Building Fashion – a program that investigates the connection between the fields of architecture and fashion. It pairs architects with fashion designers to collaborate on the design of a series of five pop-up shops.
Focus Lighting collaborated on the first pop-up shop and were delighted to be asked to provide the lighting design for the rest of the series.
Brett Andersen, Principal Designer at Focus, said: “We were asked to provide the lighting design and programming for Nicola’s and they were so happy with our work that the architects for the following pop-up shops also asked us to get involved.”

#1: Nicola’s Gage|Clemenceau Architects + Nicola Formichetti, September 8 - 21, 2011
Nicola’s was designed by Gage/Clemenceau Architects to house Nicola Formichetti’s limited edition pieces. Formichetti – fashion director for Lady Gaga, creative director for Mugler, and fashion stylist to Uniqlo – directed the vision for the 1,300 sqft shop. Focus Lighting sought to use lighting to create “an ethereal space where the fashion becomes the room”. This was achieved by lighting the merchandise and the patrons with moving patterns of light that are then constantly reflected in the multi‐faceted mirrored space. An occasional burst of haze allows the beams of light to be seen, creating an added dimension to the design of the space. The architects designed an “experimental space that not only showcases, but magnifies, the impact of (Formichetti’s) fashion designs into a new form of immersive environment that fuses the very genetics of architecture and fashion”. The space is enveloped with hundreds of machine‐cut reflective surfaces attached to lightweight composite structural backing. Each mirrored facet is attached to the adjacent facet using a system of precisely bent aluminum clips.

#2: Fibulae Marc Fornes :: THEVERYMANY + Irene Neuwirth
September 29 – October 12, 2011

The 1,800 sqft pop‐up shop displayed the work of Los Angeles‐based jewelry designer, Irene Neuwirth. As a “leading figure in the development of computational protocols applied to the field of design and fabrication”.

Marc Fornes :: THEVERYMANY was selected by Irene Neuwirth, Boffo and a team of judges to create an environment that melds structural designs with Neuwirth’s elegant, one‐of‐a‐kind jewelry. Marc Fornes :: THEVERYMANY designed Fibulae to be an “embroidered symbolic brooch, showcasing the vibrant multicolour collection of Irene Neuwirth”. 7,000 brushed aluminum parts were pre‐cut and then assembled into 28 sculptural modules using thousands of rivets. The complex system of intertwining tubes showcase Neuwirth’s jewelry in 19 glass cases located at the branches’ endpoints. Andersen imagined Fibulae as a “hidden jewel in a forest – glistening in the sunlight during the day and illuminated by a warm internal glow in the evening.” During the day, the room’s perimeter walls are lit, which is then reflected by the sculpture’s golden metal surface. At night, on the other hand, light from fixtures mounted within the sculpture filters through the flower‐like cut‐outs on the metal, projecting patterned light on all of the perimeter walls and ceiling. In both scenes, Neuwirth’s jewelry ‐ displayed in individual glass cases ‐ takes centre stage through the use of ceiling mounted pin‐spots, and small LED accents mounted to the actual sculpture.

#3: Patrick Ervell + Graham Hudson
October 20 – November 2, 2011

Focus Lighting worked closely with Graham Hudson to design the lighting for the third pop-up shop in the Boffo Building Series. The space morphed into a decaying shell to house Ervell’s products, which are known for their “innovative materials and unconventional application”. From this destruction is a literal and figurative transformation into art and design. The lighting design was inspired by both the environment’s beauty as a crumbling shell and its ruggedness as a space in the midst of transformation. Focus Lighting created what appears to be the existing lighting that has since deteriorated and been partially destroyed along with the rest of the space. Decorative fixtures that have been broken and painted to display wear and tear are mounted on the disintegrating ceiling, and flickering fluorescents usher in guests at the entry. To correspond to the shop’s transformative element, flood lights and string lights, which are typically used as temporary lighting in construction, are worked into the scaffolding. The design of the space goes beyond the typical retail storefront. Instead the intent is for the function of the store to disappear to leave visitors immersed in an integrated environment with garments in it. The objective was to light the space and the garments as an integrated whole. Floodlights project patterns on the wall, the play with patterns and grids mimicking the structure of Graham’s design.

#4: SOFTlab + The Lake & Stars
November 10 - 23, 2011

The SOFTlab-designed pop-up shop for The Lake & Stars plays with the concept of viewing cones to provide visitors with two entirely different shopping experiences. Focus Lighting used these cones both as a focal point and an opportunity to provide light. A central wall composed of 29 irregularly shaped cones seems to hover over the middle of the shop, dividing it into two separate spaces. The lighting design draws visitors toward the viewing cones and uses the dichroic plexi-glas to create splashes of colour within the sleek, white space. As visitors enter in the space to the left of this wall, pin spots draw their eyes toward the different rectangular openings within the wall. Light fixtures are precisely aimed so that when light hits the dichroic plexi-glas cones, a splash of colour is projected onto the glossy white surfaces of the adjacent space, bringing life to the mannequins and merchandise.

#5: Easton + Combs + Ohne Titel
December 1 - 14, 2011

Focus Lighting worked closely with Easton+Combs to design the lighting for the Ohne Titel pop-up shop. Inspired by Ohne Titel’s design aesthetic, which “pairs architectural shapes and soft draping with a keen attention to detail in fit and finish”, Easton + Combs used complex geometry and vibrant colour to transform the space. Red powder coated aluminum panels were pre-cut then folded and fitted together on-site to create free-standing walls. Ohne Titel’s clothing is showcased on the clear, hollow plastic tubes that weave in and out of the red panels. Focus Lighting sought to emphasise the space created by the red walls, allowing the visitor to become fully immersed in this new geometric environment as opposed to the original white space. Upon entering, a red glow can be seen from the rear of the store, framing the entire space. Light dramatically accentuates the three-dimensionality of the walls by providing shadows and highlights.

“We needed dark and bright areas in the walls’ interlocking structure for its depth to appear,” says designer Juan Pablo Lira.

Uplights hidden behind and underneath the walls create a soft glow to set the walls off from their surroundings, while pin spots hung from the ceiling in front of the walls bring sharp focus to their intricate joints and assembly details. Ohne Titel’s fashions are highlighted with additional pin spots to make each item of clothing pop against Easton+Combs’ architecture.

Paul Gregory, Principal of Focus Lighting, commented: “We try to never pass up an opportunity for creative collaboration. It is good for our designers. We saw the Boffo Building Fashion Series as five different exercises to create something truly unique. This stimulation of creativity has always been the centre of our lives. It is in our DNA.”


Nicola’s designed by Gage /Clemenceau Architects.

Pics: Evan Joseph

  • Fibulae designed by Marc Fornes :: THEVERYMANY.

  • Ohne Titel designed by Easton+Combs.

  • The Lake & Stars designed by SOFTlab.

  • Focus Lighting worked closely with Graham Hudson to design the lighting for the third pop-up shop in the Boffo Building Series.

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