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Bar With Shapes for a Name installation (2023)

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The Shapes installation is a permanent architectural and data driven light installation. It comprises of a large (4500mm x 1500mm) rectangular section seamlessly recessed into the wall, with hidden concentric RGBWW light sources, designed to create a unique diffusion effect. The light is diffused amongst its internal surfaces onto a perfectly smooth bespoke surface, coated in a specifically tuned satin finish – resulting in two organic, infinitely smooth gradients interlocking, playing on the viewers sense of depth perception.

The light sources are controlled by a hidden mini PC running a custom coded environment in Touchdesigner via 16 bit DMX signals, enabling an imperceptibly smooth shift through tones, creating an organic, fluid effect through designated colour combinations. These combinations were inspired by the gamut of emotional cues that colours can create and suggest, with consideration of how shifting colours can compliment the evolving nature of social interactions in the room. 

The data driven nature of the installation allows it to respond to various data inputs such as time, day of the week, season, number of people in the room, or manually overridden via a custom built iPad interface, allowing for constant tweaking and experimentation. 

Beyond its function, the ambition was to create something driven by an extremely precise, detail focused approach that one would be more likely to find in the art world than in common interior design or functional lighting. The architectural lighting in the space was also redesigned to compliment the installation, which involved installing tuned spotlights and wall lights from Phos to create contrast and highlight areas of interest throughout the space.


Concept, design and programming by Steve Braiden

Commissioned by Bar With Shapes for a Name

Fabrication and physical development managed by Charlie Humble-Thomas

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“The installation at Bar With Shapes for a Name came about fortuitously after an inspiring visit to the bar as a customer. My impression of the bar's visual approach, owing to it's Bauhaus infused aesthetic, was that it had a very strong graphic feel and a real intentionality to the design of the space. This made it an ideal canvas for a large geometric architectural lighting project, something that could interact with and complement the space, rather than overpower it, despite the installation's large size. 

After some consideration, I thought that with a considered approach to programming, materials and light shaping techniques, it would be possible to create something that felt like a natural source of light coming from the wall, rather than a light fixture. The key was to create a design that diffused and interlocked these lights in an infinitely smooth way, using my knowledge of lighting to steer away from the often garish implementation of LED light, and lead this towards an organic, entrancing light installation.


The programming of the modulation of this light was equally important. A balance had to be struck between being dynamic enough to be interesting, yet not overly active and distracting. Currently it is set up to land on a certain colour combination for a set period of time, after which it will animate for a brief period before settling on the next. I felt like this variety would give patrons spending an evening in the bar an evolving, dynamic experience, with shifting moods and punctuated moments."

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