Canopy of Light

1. 11. 2018

Preciosa brings fascinating interactive installation to Dubai

The desert of the United Arab Emirates can conjure up a number of images in one’s mind. Hot. Dry. Dusty. Camels. But the region also has beautiful vegetation that has cunningly adapted to its environment. Inspiration from such desert trees has led to a captivating lighting installation now sparkling in the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira.

The Mandarin Oriental Jumeira is a gorgeous beachfront resort right on Jumeirah Beach. Entering the space, guests should instantly be captivated by the gorgeous crystal and brass trees spread throughout the lobby. Preciosa worked with Kuala Lumpur-based DESIGNWILKES to create the magnificent look.

A Forest of Sparkle

“DESIGNWILKES’ original design was inspired by a trip to Dubai at the time of the year when the flame of the forest trees were in full bloom,” said Jeffrey Wilkes, Principal Designer at DESIGNWILKES. “The canopy of orange blossoms brightened the landscape. It was the inspiration for the idea of a ‘Canopy of Light’.”

Canopy of Light is a dynamic installation featuring 14 trees in three sizes, made from hundreds of hand-blown Bohemian crystal leaves with a champagne matte brass finish. What makes the installation unique on the hospitality market is that the lights in the trees are specially programmed to produce different effects. The Mandarin Oriental has a day scene, a night scene, and then every hour the lights ‘move’ through the trees. Each tree is modelled separately and differently, roughly 400-500 channels, depending on the tree. This means a different light effect can be programmed to each individual tree and not necessarily the ‘forest’ as a whole. Motions that could be created include a downward movement of light through the trunk, a sparkling effect or a motion that looks like wind is blowing through the leaves.

“This idea spoke to our overall concept of the Dubai Riviera, simultaneously incorporating glamour within a resort setting,” said Sirajul Fahmi, Design Director at DESIGNWILKES. “The styling is contemporary, we pushed for trees that were stylized, focusing on the canopy, with light in their trunks, almost deco in their approach, like fine jewellery.”

Natural Connection

There’s a metaphor in here too. As the designers explained, the blown crystal with the lighting effect is symbolic of each flower being blown by the natural flow of air.

“The hotel’s position on the beach also influenced our design,” Mr. Wilkes said. “We have purposely avoided coloured light because we wanted to replicate the silver sparkle of the water…the dappled surface of the ocean beyond is brought forward.”

The feel is carried through the sand coloured travertine floor, which acts like a sandy beach practically twinkling like the sun or undulating like waves washing upon the shore.

“Our trees poetically unite our location in terms of geography and culture,” Mr. Fahmi added. “In our planning of the lobby we wanted to unite the front of the hotel to the beach side, so the idea of an Islamic-based garden stretching through the lobby was then accentuated with our "Canopy of Light,”

Both Mr. Wilkes and Mr. Fahmi were blown away by the final look.

“Magical. Phenomenal. Extraordinary. It is sophisticated and sculptural. It is based on the idea of a tree, but it is not a replication of a tree. Your mind will be taken away with its presence in the space. Preciosa understood our concept, and continued to enhance it, and work with the team to achieve the best possible results.”

DNA of a Space

DESIGNWILKES is boutique interior design firm specializing in hospitality projects that blend cosmopolitan influences with tradition. They believe lighting has an important role to play in public spaces.

“The best light is a part of the design, not merely to illuminate,” said Mr. Fahmi. “The layering effect from lighting adds soul and life to interiors. The greater the number of layers, the greater the depth…like an impressionist painting.”

Mr. Wilkes and Mr. Fahmi toured the Preciosa factory in Crystal Valley to get a glimpse of where their Canopy of Light would eventually grow.

“The cooperation between the DESIGNWILKES and Preciosa teams has always been a positive process,” Mr. Wilkes said. “Each and every meeting, from concept, crystal selections, the mock-up review--all were uplifting. We always try to bring some sort of sparkle into a space. Reflection is natural. When you are in the desert, palm leaves sparkle in the sun, the surface of water sparkles, rain on leaves sparkle. So while crystal and blown glass may be manmade, they bring nature into an interior in a very natural way.”