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Inside Nulty’s Hard Rock Hotel and Cafe lighting project

Nulty has completed the lighting scheme of London’s new Hard Rock Hotel and Hard Rock Cafe.

Visitors are immediately met with a cacophony of sensory stimulation in the portal leading to the hotel lobby, including a series of brass rods, pendants, mirrors, and rectangular light sheets. The Nulty team co-ordinated closely with the project’s interior designer Scott Brownrigg to install 120 light sheets of various sizes and as many pendants, among the fractured graphics of this space.

In the main lobby, past Freddie Mercury’s first-ever piano is a wall of 18 glass cases full of impressive music memorabilia, these are lit with small adjustable spot and halo lights, creating a vibrant space of interest. Another 60 or so lit pieces of memorabilia are sprinkled among the hotel lobby and cafe.

By using troughs in the ceiling to house track lighting, Nulty avoided populating the vast lobby with an abundance of downlights. These troughs successfully break up the broad expanse of the ceiling. Ramps and stairs throughout have integrated lighting installed, and as the light levels in the space can get very low, floor lighting provides safe passage without affecting the mood.

The eye is drawn to the reception desks which are lit by a custom-made installation by Nulty Bespoke. Highlighting the humble drumstick, this lighting installation consists of 135 fibre optic cables encased by handmade ‘drumsticks’ (600mm long). The maple drum sticks appear to have light emanating from their tips, suggesting that music is escaping from the drum stick itself. Each of the cables is hung at different lengths (1m at the longest), giving the overall impression that the installation represents a large sound wave.

The main hub of the space is a commanding circular bar dividing the hotel from the adjacent Hard Rock Cafe. The ceiling light installation dramatically demarks the space with a series of 7m brass fins radiating from the centre. Two thousand LED nodes mounted between the the fins provide both illumination and a type of messaging in the bar. Each of the LEDs is individually addressable, so the installation can be programmed as patterns of sparkling stars, pulsing chevron, a clock face or even seasonally-inspired moments like a rainbow colour during Pride or all green for St Patrick’s Day. These are all centrally controlled by staff from an iPad. Hidden behind the reception is the VIP Rock Royalty lounge with a ceiling scene of faceted mirrored panels.

The Nulty team’s intention was to ramp up the glamour aspect of this exclusive space by installing frosted globe pendants with brass arms. These pendants are then reflected in the mirrors, providing the illusion of lots of shimmering light. On the ground, either side of the mirrored ceiling are intimate recessed banquettes encouraging low key moments. Nulty installed dimmable frosted globes with brass circular back panels, linking with the materiality of the corresponding pendants in the room.

Nulty’s expertise in retail lighting takes centre stage in the Rock Shop, a small retail concession with several layers of light throughout. A matt black track lighting system allows for easy adjustments according to what merchandise needs highlighting. The bold red turntable-shaped cash desk is highlighted by a strip of floor lighting at the desk’s base. The top part of the walls are flooded with halo lighting above the merchandise.

The lighting in the cafe requires versatile solutions, with different moods and illumination requirements throughout the day. Tuneable white lighting in the coffered ceilings provide warm light during breakfast, and brighter cooler light temperatures later in the day. Banquette seats have built-in table lamps, providing a sense of cosiness and a large contemporary pendant positioned in a ceiling rose offers a striking visual lighting feature.

A series of thin, brass low wattage pendants at the concierge desk and lift lobby echo the drum stick installation at the reception. These delicately suspended lights draw the eye to lifts and the concierge, thus acting as a type of way-finding as well as boosting light levels.

Emilio Hernandez, director at Nulty said: “We really enjoyed the energy and creativity of the Hard Rock team. They have a dedicated position of “vibe manager” who oversees the overall feeling of the space. As light is a key part of creating a mood, it was really exciting to work with a team who understands its importance in a space.”