World network of Buddha-Bar restaurants. The most prestigious district in New York. And here is our Expolight lighting project in collaboration with YOD Group. In the heart of New York, 245 layers of glass and nearly 1,000 pieces weighing 13.5 tons came to life with the help of light.
Together with our architectural partners, the YOD design lab created a project for deep and atmospheric space in the new Buddha-Bar New York in Manhattan. This complex lighting design project has been an incredible global experience for our Expolight team. And its main feature is a permanent light-projection installation with a 4.5-meter glass Buddha!
Together with the architects, we worked for a long time on an ambitious concept, studied the restaurants of Manhattan, the specifics, the chips, and concluded that darkness and uneven, finely tuned light prevails even more in the restaurants here. After three years of work on the other side of the ocean, we can finally enjoy the result!
The whole interior and light come from the general concept of the restaurant. The lighting is restrained and contrasting, with accents pulling textures and details out of the darkness. We show wood, metal, and glass with warm spots of light. The accents on the tables here are not habitually dotted but double-circuited with luminous edges and a highlighted centre. These accents give light sources with narrow optics in an 8-meter space under the ceiling.
Light sources in the interior are hidden as much as possible. We have developed a unified control system and programmed day, evening and late-evening light scenarios for all of them.
The "protagonist" of the restaurant - a 4.5-meter buddha made of solid glass slabs - was also played in the context of a comprehensive lighting project. For sure, this is one of the most fascinating of his incarnations. The illumination of the Buddha was created in two versions: light and projection. Projections, in turn, are varied and artistic, but this theme is resounding, like the inner world of the Buddha.
The news about the new cult place spread at the speed of light, thanks in large part to the sculpture of the Buddha. It is impossible to leave the restaurant without a selfie in front of this genuinely stunning figure, which we brought to life with the help of light.
Working with this sculpture was a real creative challenge for our team. The architect Volodymyr Nepiyvoda and I persuaded the customer to take a risk - to move away from the classical canon of a golden statue and create a holographic Buddha.
Thus, after hundreds of experiments, a parametric sculpture was born, which the Dnipro team of glass masters Villa Decor brilliantly brought to life.
The difficulty was that the transparent glass let the projection through. And if you make the sculpture completely matte, then the beauty of glass as a material is lost.
The optimal solution was born in close cooperation: to make only the ends of the glass slabs frosted. Thus, the Buddha became a media screen for broadcasting art content and, at the same time, retaining the natural appeal of the glass structure.
For the Buddha to come to life, we have designed two lighting modes for the statue. The sliding light creates an aura effect and emphasises the layering of the structure. And the laser media projection makes the Buddha holographic and evokes incredible emotions.
These modes flow into each other every 15 minutes with a crossfade effect. The art content is selected so that it attracts attention and does not tire even during a long rest in the bar.
The first mode, “radiant light”, creates an accent around the sculpture due to the directional gliding light. It is more restrained and implemented using a complex track of spotlights with different optics located at different angles.
Such lighting emphasises the structure of the glass as effectively as possible. Also, under the statute itself, RGB light sources are installed, which creates the effect of a mystical aura around the Buddha figure of a specific colour.
The second lighting mode is projection, which is more complex and spectacular. It uses the effect of collision, thanks to which the statue of the Buddha acquires additional depth; I would even say “entry 4th dimension”. The image from three laser projectors is assembled into a single image controlled by custom software.
The projection itself does not get inside the sculpture, but due to the unique visual content, the statue seems to fill with smoke and then explode with particles inside alternately. This creates the feeling that all this is happening inside her.
At each moment, the projection image covers no more than 30-70% of the area of the statue. This is done so that the Buddha does not turn entirely into a virtual figure and preserves the material nature.
We implemented a lighting design that gently emphasises the background and, at the same time, does not clog the illumination of the statue itself. At the same time, people who want to take a selfie next to the Buddha get enough light to make great shots.