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"Room to Bloom" Gala


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In the Style of Club El Moracco
Environmental Lighting Technics for the Mint Musuem "Room to Bloom" Gala
Lighting Dialogue by Jack Kelly
April 19, 2008 | Quail Hollow Country Club | Charlotte, NC

Article in Lighting&Sound America February 2009

4 Chauvet LEDSplash 2
14 Chauvet Colorado 3
10 Colorado 1
40 Color Kinetics Colorcast 14
14 Elation Opti RGB
66 Elation Opti 30
23 Swivelier Medium Base Extensions
2 ETC Source Four Lekos
4 Global Truss 5' Box Truss w/ Base
1 Martin Light Jockey
2 Elation DR 512 DMX Recorders
5 Elation DP 415 Dimmer Packs
80 Damar Par 30 Narrow Flood
24 Damar Par 30 Narrow Spot
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John Lupton from Elements Design called me with an apology and a request. The Mint Museum was reaching the end of their budget and only had $2500 to light 3 massive tents. John and my team had already worked several jobs together. Quite a visionary in 3 dimensional decor, John has been involved with some of Charlotte’s most exciting designs. He knew my style, and he wanted to see what we could do. John hinted at sharing part of his budget, so I knew he was willing to sacrifice for a memorable event. We set a time to meet at Quail Hollow Country Club for a walk through.

I have helped the Mint in the past but seeing John’s willingness to give up some of his budget softened me up a lot. As he took me room to room describing the event design, I got excited. The concepts were cool; long Moroccan art pieces, tall middle eastern metallic curtain splitting the middle tent, centerpieces of golden onion domes embracing small flames, palm leaves, zebra print, low couches, you get the idea. Cool theme and a good cause so I agreed to exceed whatever amount John was willing to add in exchange for in kind services.

LED Lighting in CharlotteEveryone arrived between 6 and 7:30. The sun glistened on 2 giant curtains hanging between the pillars of the porte-cochere. Lighting would have been pointless in front of the country club unless we wanted a grand finale at the end of the evening only visible by the guest on their way out. Due to budget constraints, lighting the entrance seemed like a waste of money with minimal impact. Through the front doors, the entrance hall was bordered by two rows of curtains guiding the guest directly to the auction items and sign in table. For the auction area, the natural room lighting was washed out with no dynamics. We added rotating Swiveliers, medium base extension rods for recessed lighting, to extend the light downward in order to focus on the display tables. Replacing the lamps with narrow floods and narrow spots, each table was brightly lit without lighting the space around it. We were able to bring interest to the item and not the architecture of the space.

Continuing into the dance area, we creatively veiled the band setup. Two long white curtains were place at the ends of the room; one on the wall opposite the stage and one directly in front of the stage. Five Chauvet Colorado 3’s we used to light each run. For the back wall, we put the Colorados at the base of the curtain. With the light colored wall we focused the fixtures directly upward to reflect the light both on the curtain and reflect the light off the wall a ceiling. LED Lighting in CharlotteThe result wasn’t completely fluid but the casual observer only saw a solid color changing curtain with highlights. The stage lighting was much more even. Focused directly at the curtain runs, each fixture was placed 16 feet from curtain. Although the fixtures could be seen by the detailed eye, smooth transition between fixtures was flawless. The final touch was a gobo with “Club El Morocco” placed in a 90 degree leko. Although the image was blurred by the ruffles in the curtain, the classic image display added style and class.

For the beginning of the evening, a small stage located in the middle of the room lifted a jazz quartet as they mesmerized the crowd. Surrounding the dais, zebra couches and large potted Palms adorned the roomscape. With an air of theatrical technique, we used narrow spots (10 degree) to create highlights on the top of the palms. The focused light created a floor of natural breakups and shadows. Each couch was lit with a narrow flood (23 degree) creating a welcoming glow and picture perfect lighting to complete the décor. Finally two narrow floods cross washed the stage. The lighting kept the guest focus on the décor, completely reinventing the space.

LED Lighting in CharlotteContinuing onward into the next room, the lounge boasted a single unique accent chair set between two long bars. We used the existing chandeliers to create a traditional feel but then added color changers to the corners. A fire place protruded from the wall at both ends of the room, giving us 4 90 degree corners at either end of the room. A 90 degree corner longs for uplighting. Lighting the additional corners added interest to the rooms shape. The room felt complete with a contemporary-traditional feel.

Outside, a series of traveler tents carried the guest from the country club to the main tents for dining. At the back of the country club, four massive Doric order columns were uplit with the 12 degree beam angle of the Chauvet Colorado 1. The light carried through the shaft to the capital then added a beautiful spread along the decorative rafters. A secondary row of fixtures lit between the windows adding an additional dimension of space. Layering the columns against the back face of the building made the patio a favorite among the guest.

Upon entering the tent, 2 servers greeted the guest with appetizers and favors. At the top of the last traveler tent, “Club El Morocco” was projected around the canopy. 2 Elation Opti RGBs washed the small tent with color, as 6 color changing comrades uplit white fabric lining the exterior of the entrance tent.

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For the dining areas, I wanted the rooms to feel environmentally different. John had already treated each room with individual flare. One room was in gold; one room in silver; and one was lined with 56 feet of a Moroccan mural and rectangular dining tables. I decided to change the color of the air to further distinguish the rooms, accenting each room's unique character with complementary light.

White light isn’t really white. The color temperature plays a huge part in designing with white light. Lower color temperatures have an amber hue and high color temperatures have a bluish hue. When designing jewelry stores, lighting designers use the appropriate light for the appropriate precious metal or stone. Gold, rubies, and dark woods look glamorous under lower color temperatures. Higher color temperatures highlight blue hues increasing the appeal of silver, platinum, and diamonds. For our dining experience we used common white light at various color temperatures to create contrast and bold yet indescribable environmental changes.

LED Lighting in CharlotteThe entrance tent was in the middle. Looking up, long metallic forms traveled from the apex of the tent all the way to the ground below. Layers of black fabric contrasted with nearly a hundred geometric metal forms chained together to form two center pieces expanding the room into the sky. Ornate table clothes on rounds were made of silver medallions sewn into a soft gray fabric. Four truss towers stood like sentries as they blasted cool white light and deep rich blues into the centerpieces. The metal reflected and refracted the light as the cool colors danced into the shimmering character of the black drapes. CTB was used on the Par-Nels to increase the natural color temperature of the HPL lamp. Eighteen Elation Opti 30s were also gelled with CTB (Color Temperature Blue) to bring out the natural color of the silver chairs and table cloth. The effect was cool, industrial, and very modern.

LED Lighting in CharlotteThe tent to the left of the entrance suggested a Moroccan restaurant. Thirteen rectangular dining tables lined the room graced with arrangements of palm reaching into the soft fabric ceiling. Using ungeled par 30s, the lighting style, common in ethnic restaurants or buffets, was honest and familiar. Narrow spots highlighted the tops of the palms, as narrow floods washed the full length of the table. A modular geometric screen lined the far side of the room mirrored by the geometric prints on the table clothes. Along the geometric screen, 40 Color changing cove lights were programmed to sweep in the same orange as the table cloths. The lights dimmed from 10% to 100% in slow subtle waves, caressing the lingering screen. The faux grass floor connected to the palms as the soft white fabric of the tent ceiling reached down to the white table cloths and screen. Black chairs waiting patiently around the tables complimented the geometric outlines on the table cloths. Well thought out, the room was effortless and natural.

LED Lighting in CharlotteThe tent to the right of the entrance was traditional and elegant. Engulfed in black fabric, the tables themselves commanded the room. Wrapped in a shawl of greenery, long gold hooks extended into the air. Gracefully reaching back downward, the sweeping arcs curled through golden chain holding the ornate votives sparkling with candle light. On the table top, a gathering of gold hand painted votives adorned the base of the tree. The golden table cloth was embroidered with the Middle Eastern geometric theme. Around the room, gold sentries of an unknown modular design rested against the black fabric walls. Intriguing and mysterious these golden forms carried the eye through the room giving an elegant table display a clever frame. I immediately gelled the table spots with CTO (Color Temperature Orange). The room glowed with deep amber. Rich and tasteful, the golden color apparent throughout the room shimmered under the complementary light.

By controlling the color temperature, I was able to create three different environments. The atmosphere morphed from tent to tent. The quality of light was subtle yet dynamic, ordinary yet when juxtaposed to each other . . . astonishing. By using different lighting styles in each area, the rooms contained a world defined only by its Moroccan style.

That night each guest took a journey starting with simple traditional styles to an increasingly complex blend of themes. In many ways, the events dynamic style was much like listening to a symphonic work. The combination of contemporary LED design and Moroccan expositions was seamlessly woven throughout the event. The development and variations provided interest both to the event novice and planner. Emotional and provoking, the crescendo to the diner did not leave the guest wanting. For the finale, the guest returned back though Quail Hollow Country Club greeted by a loosening theme and a cover band. Whooping and hollering, the guest boogied down. Intoxicated, seduced, and inspired; everyone left with an unforgettable evening, a smile, and a cab ride.

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