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Lacoste, Knightsbridge, London, UK

Issue 70 Dec / Jan 2013 : Retail : Store


When tasked with creating a flagship store concept for a major retailer, a lighting designer often has to think well beyond the four walls of one specific site. In addition to delivering a scheme that confidently expresses the identity of the brand, consideration may have to be given to the scalability and transferability of a design, ensuring that any aesthetic choices can be recreated in smaller stores across the retail chain.

This was the challenge facing the team at Into Lighting when they were asked to work on the new Lacoste flagship in London’s Knightsbridge. Located just metres away from the iconic (though perhaps none-too-subtle) glowing outline of Harrod’s, the new store is Lacoste’s largest, spanning three floors and providing 7,470 sqft of retail space. Formerly a French Connection outlet, the site was rife with spatial challenges posed by not four, but several perimeter walls enclosing an irregular, L-shaped floorplan. In addition to this, each of the three floors has differing ceiling heights ranging from 2.6m to 4m, so the lighting solution had to be flexible enough to provide a similar light level throughout.

The first issue to tackle was the positioning of ceiling lights in such a way that they could meet the required illumination without appearing messy or random. Working alongside the interior architects, designLSM, Into devised a pattern of inter-connecting troughs that would cut the ceiling into geometric shapes. By placing recessed gimbal downlights along these troughs, a sense of logic and even dynamism was introduced to the space.

Equally critical was the choice of light source. Lacoste are well known for their brightly coloured polo shirt collection and so it was essential that a suitable colour rendering was achieved. The Lacoste management team from both France and the UK were involved in approving aesthetic decisions and both had very different understandings of what they wanted to achieve. In order to ensure the client remained engaged in the process, and to help them toward the right conclusions, Into had to educate the various stakeholders in the different concepts of ‘brightness’, colour rendering and colour temperature. As part of this process, several onsite mockups were carried out with different light sources. After the creation and analysis of lighting simulations and calculations using specialist lighting design software, Into concluded that metal halide sources best met with the client’s brief. They specified Philips Elite 930 lamps, chosen for their 3000K colour temperature, 90+ CRI and a higher lumen output than standard metal halides. As Into Lighting Director Darren Orrow explains, this reflects Lacoste’s more style-focused identity.

 “Generally with sports retailers - like Asics, who we do the stores for Europewide - the client wants a much cooler colour temperature, around 4000-4200K, to give the store a bit of a faster-paced feel,” he says. “Lacoste does have that sports link because of its tennis background, but it’s far more a casual, fashion brand, hence the warmer white for a more relaxed feel.”

In addition to the main downlights, the store includes feature elements - installed at the request of Lacoste France – that follow a blueprint unitary design. These include semi-recessed LED light boxes, located above the ‘Polo Bars’ (polo shirt display points) and LED strips that run above the polo shirt rails and edge light the etched Perspex ‘style guide’ panels.

To visually connect the floors, the architect increased the structural voids in the ground and first floors to accommodate a bespoke staircase. Made-to-order, resin cast LED Linear Venus strips are concealed in the nose detail of each step to provide a durable lighting solution. A billboard-style triola feature wall creates a background of changing imagery at the back of the stairwell. This is illuminated by 70W metal halide up- and downlighting.

A glass walled lift also provides access between the floors. A long, narrow LED light box, positioned in the corner of the lift shaft and running its full height, illuminate the picture wall within it.

A Mode Lighting astronomical control system provides auto scene changing throughout the day for lighting across the store. Not only does it adapt to the changing seasons, taking into account the shifting sundown and sunrise times, but a photoreceptor on the roof of the building feeds into the system, allowing it to compensate for variation in ambient light levels. LEDs within the store are adjusted accordingly to reduce contrast. So, for example, on a brighter summers day, the display light levels are increased to maintain visual impact, whilst on overcast days the fixtures are dimmed to conserve energy.

Outside opening hours, all lights in the store are switched off with the exception of the stair lighting, the LCD screen wall and the diffused LED Linear AtonPlus strips, which are used to frame each of the windows. In the early hours of the morning, as the nearby private members clubs and high-end restaurants empty, passers-by are treated to a dynamic, minimalist outline that subtly picks out the window displays - Lacoste’s simple, modern antidote to the brash tungsten hangover of its better-known neighbour.


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