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Hedonism Wines, London, UK

Issue 72 April / May 2013 : Retail : Store

INTERIOR DESIGN: Universal Design Studio LIGHTING DESIGN: Speirs + Major

Speirs + Major’s award-winning scheme for a new boutique wine store balances luxurious style with inviting accessibility, and a ‘living light’ system that provides an eye-catching nocturnal drama.

For Russian mobile-phone tycoon Evgeny Chichvarkin, the act of buying a bottle should match the enjoyment of drinking its contents. Confident of a global audience who would share his passion, Chichvarkin established Hedonism Wines, a sophisticated boutique set to attract the most ardent of oenophiles.

Located in the Mayfair area of London where fashion, luxury and heritage come together it was vital to create a strong first impression from outside, and to carry that through to the striking interiors designed by Universal Design Studio. Speirs + Major took on the challenge of creating a lighting scheme that would not only enhance the store’s character and identity after dark, but also ensure strict environmental conditions were met.

Specifically, an ambient temperature of precisely 16°C on lower ground floor and 17°C on the ground floor had to be maintained in order to preserve the merchandise at optimum condition. To achieve this it was realised from the outset that it would need to be a 100% LED scheme.

Hiroto Toyoda worked on the project for Speirs + Major. “For me personally, it was a fascinating experience to enter the world of fine wines and to learn about how much precision, care and effort is required to preserve the bottles at the optimum condition,” he remarks. “It was clear that lighting was going to be critical to the success of the project, not only to fulfil the functional and aesthetic requirements but also to make sure that the heat produced by the luminaires was kept to minimum and away from the merchandise.”

At the early stage of the project, an analysis of the store’s location and orientation showed a high volume of passers-by in cars and by foot during the hours after the store is closed. By night, the storefront needed to have enough impact that it would engage curiosity and promote return visits. Given that the two key street facing elevations are fully glazed, the approach to the nighttime scene was to use the internal lighting to create the external image. A ‘living light’ concept was proposed in the store, using video projection with unique themed video content. The content is adaptable for seasons and events offering the client the possibility to refresh their after dark identity, considered essential given the store’s close proximity to fashion brands who are well versed in updating displays.

The design of the light is layered, with accent, display and ambient lighting intended to bring out the best in the merchandise. In response to the light and airy interior scheme proposed by Universal Design Studio for the ground floor, glass pendant luminaires reminiscent of champagne bubbles draw the eye away from the accent lighting fixtures that are focused toward key display counters. The red wines found on the lower ground floor are primarily lit by low hung copper pendants concentrating attention around the central display units, and enhancing the cellar-like atmosphere.The sources of accent lighting and perimeter shelf lighting are carefully integrated into the architecture so as to be imperceptible, allowing the visual focus to be kept on the merchandise.

To draw attention to the central staircase that connects the two floors, a bespoke lighting installation was proposed, turning it into a sparkling focal point. Created from upended wine glasses mounted at varying heights, the organic sculptural form is inspired by the contour lines of a vineyard. Individual LEDs illuminate each glass, forming a dazzling three-dimensional effect.

The jewel in the crown of the shop, the Chateau d’Yquem collection, has been turned into a series of gemstones in their own right. A concealed fibre optics system lights through the distinctive golden honey coloured liquid allowing the bottles to glow from within. The effect is supplemented by homogeneous LED backlighting integrated within the cabinet, which is activated via a PIR sensor when a customer approaches the display.

“Hedonism Wines is a unique retail environment where you can find anything from a £20 bottle to a £120,000 bottle (yes they really exist!), so it was an interesting challenge to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere that anyone could walk into comfortably without feeling intimidated - the client wanted the store to be high-end and elegant but also accessible,” says Toyoda. “Having recently revisited the store to see the CEO, we are pleased to hear that they love seeing all sorts of visitors from students and tourists popping in, to serious wine enthusiasts and collectors who come to London specifically to visit Hedonism Wines. This is something that they are very proud of and so are we.”


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