It is the first time that Boots have had a multi-level store and we were asked to provide an illuminated feature for their new flagship store in Oxford Street, London. After several meetings and discussions, we designed a “light” wall consisting of illuminated colour-changing acrylic panels. This wall extends up three storeys inside the store behind the stairway. The wall is made up of 60 panels, each measuring 1200mm x 700mm. Several plasma screens are interspersed between these acrylic panels and these are used for advertising purposes. Each panel was made up of a rectangular piece of Prismex and lit along two edges with red, green and blue LED strips. Each one of these strips (two per panel) is individually addressed by a computer-based control programme, thus allowing an infinitely variable array of colour-changing and movement to be achieved. The computer which controls this wall is in an office nearby. The installation was quite complicated as the panels had to be installed behind the stairway and the installation date had to be scheduled in with other work on the site. A 4-man team carried out the installation and it took 5 days to complete.
The Filaments is a residential development at the centre of a London borough and only a few minutes’ walk from Wandsworth town centre and consists of 340 private apartments, as well as shops, office space and lit gardens and walkways. We were commissioned to provide specialist lighting for the concierge area and were given a specification and asked to provide a more cost effective solution. The project involved the supply of LED strip downlights, lighting around the concierge’s desk, in addition to cove lighting which was to wash downwards over a specially painted wall and internal and external versions of strip lights which were to be installed under the exterior canopy. These were a very slimline profile with surface-mounted LEDs. The lighting around the concierge’s desk consisted of LED strip (with white only LEDs) and extrusion. The wall wash lighting was origninally specified using a high output constant current system, but we decided to use a new constant voltage system which utilises smaller output LEDs. However, the LEDs are columnated with reflectors in order to give a similar visual effect. The LEDs used here were 4000 Kelvin. All the walls in the concierge area were made of MDF but a special finish was applied to these walls to give it a metallic-look effect. Some of the ceiling lights were recessed (some of which had emergency back up systems) and some were suspended – the suspended ones were painted in the same metal finish as the walls. We also designed a system that enabled all the power supply units to be housed in one control room with all of the units being dimmable. The installation of all this lighting was carried out out by a 5 man team and took a week to complete.
We were contacted by an architect to see if we could help solve a problem – their client wanted a large illuminated white graphic on a black background installed in the reception area of their new offices. This had been attempted by two other companies but unfortunately they had not been able to achieve what the client required. The design we put forward was to edge-light glass panels with an image sandblasted to the rear of the glass panels and then mount them in front of a black panel. The architect presented our design to their client who was very happy with our proposals and we were given the go-ahead. We had 20mm thick (at the client’s request) low iron, toughened glass panels produced with the image sandblasted to the rear of each panel. We also had bespoke high output white LEDs produced so that they fitted the top and bottom of the glass panels. Whilst this work was progressing, we worked closely with the interiors company on the design of the carcass. The installation was on the ground floor which made access easy and the only logistical issue we had to address was the lifting of each glass panel as each one weighed over 80kgs. We were only allowed one day to carry out the installation (which was done by a 4-man team) but unfortuantely the surround and back panels were not ready (they should have been fitted before we got to site) so we had fit the glass panels without them being fitted. We were given a 6-week lead time for this project, which we met. These photos were taken during the installation (due to security reasons we were not able to return to take photos after installation).
Prior Park College is situated overlooking the beautiful city of Bath. The College has nealry 600 pupils and is one of the largest fully co-educational Catholic Independent boarding and day schools in the UK. Prior Park was formerly the home of Ralph Allen and was built during the Georgian period of Bath stone. During the refurbishment of its refectory, the College approached us as they wanted a lighting feature installed that would become a talking point. Having visited our offices for a LiteTile demonstration, the College asked us to produce a lighting feature for their refectory. We carried out a site survey and we decided a LiteTile unit was the best option. However, we suggested that the LiteTile unit should be surrounded by a purpose-built white frame in order to give the impression of a window in the refectory. Prior Park College agreed with this and we proceeded to manufacture a LiteTile unit. This panel has colour-changing LEDs in it which are controlled by an infra-red remote control unit. The College told us that they “wanted an eye-catching yet practical feature in our servery and we were delighted to find that a local company could provide just that. We are thrilled to be the first educational establishment in the UK to have a LiteTile installed, as well as being the first venue in Bath to have one installed”. The College also said “As well as the feature lighting changing colour, we can set it on one particular colour to suit the occasion or season of the year and we are also going to display pupils’ works of art on it as well”.
It’s interesting to see how LEDs are being tested with regards to eyewear.
The Le Mans 24 hour race is about to start in France this weekend and, in order to help them stay alert, Osram have announced that six BMW Motorsport drivers have been given the opportunity of wearing special LED eyewear at this year’s endurance race. The glasses that the drivers will be testing emit a light with a high blue output. It is hoped that this will increase and sustain concentration levels during the night sessions of this famous race – which certainly requires great levels of stamina.
Osram have previously supplied goggles to the German skiing association but the eyewear being tested at Le Mans is more compact than the ski goggles although still not quite compact enough for more widespread commercial use such as helping people recover from jetlag or for use as an aid to increase day-to-day motivation. However, Osram have added an app that allows the drivers to change the light doses in the glasses so this might make them more suitable for commercial use in the future.
Another area where LEDs are being tested in eyewear is with regards to monitoring glucose levels in people with diabetes. Contact lenses have previously been developed to monitor glucose levels but the lenses were uncomfortable for the wearers and the glucose measurements were not reliable. Now, a scientist in South Korea has developed a set of components out of more flexible and softer materials. These materials contain two devices – an antenna and a rectifier that pick up signals from a transmitter and then converts these signals to a small volume of electricity. This charge then powers a glucose sensor and a very small green LED. This LED shines outwards so it is visible to the wearer when they look in a mirror. If the glucose sensor records raised levels, the LED turns off – indicating to the wearer that they may need to adjust their insulin levels.
Both these types of eyewear are at the very early stages of testing, but it is great to know that the use of LEDs is being expanded beyond purely the decorative environment.
It’s predicted that sales of smart appliances will rise in 2017, so we have been taking a look at all things “smart” that you can have in a kitchen – and what a lot there are!
Let’s start with the hob and the hood. One manufacturer now uses technology that enables the hood and hob to communicate with each other so that the hood is automatically activated when the induction hob is switched on and it adjusts its power and lighting accordingly and then the hood switches off automatically. Whilst your hood and hob are talking to each other, your smartphone could be telling your washing machine what to do – from another room, from your office or from abroad! Talking of washing machines, how about a washing machine that can diagnose a fault so that reduces the number of engineer call-outs, or what about a washing machine with downloadable programmes that adapt the machine to the lifestyle of the user – saving time and energy.
Moving on to ovens, you can have a built-in oven with a downloadable recipe database – the days of shelves filled with recipe books may be numbered!
A recent survey by Hoover shows that of 1000 surveyed, 40% of consumers are interested in operating their appliances via wi-fi and as 85% of the population own a table or smartphone there are huge opportunities for kitchen appliance manufacturers to offer “kitchen connectivity”.
Smart fridges are another example of kitchen technology that have been talked about for a quite a while. These appliances have been programmed to sense what type of products are being stored inside it and it then keeps track on the stock level via a barcode or scan. This kind of fridge can often indicate when a product needs replacing as well.
However, in addition to smart “white” goods there are now smart appliances. How about a frying pan that has inbuilt sensors that talk to an app – the app then tells you when to turn your piece of salmon over, when to add extra ingredients and when it’s ready to serve!
Then we can move on to the apps themselves – how about an app on your ‘phone that will let you know when the oven needs to be turned down for your casserole to be cooked properly and then will let you know when it is ready?
Now this might all sound a bit far fetched and perhaps unnecessary as a lot of us enjoy the actual process of cooking and baking. However, imagine if you had a relative who wasn’t as adept at cooking as yourself, or who was having memory problems and couldn’t remember when the oven should be turned down. These smart goods and apps might just be the answer for them to help them continue living a fuller and independent life for a longer period of time.
The correct lighting in a kitchen can make or break it.
Flourescent strips and incandescent light bulbs used to be just about the only option available, but with the availability of LEDs the range of lighting is now endless. You can have ceiling lights, under-cabinet lighting, kick-strip lighing, pendant lighting, track lighting – the choice is vast.
The impression sometimes given is that LED lighting doesn’t last as long as it should – but this is only applies to low quality fittings where the light is not correctly heat managed.
So in order to get the best from your LED lighting make sure it is properly heat managed (also called heat sinking). The heat produced by LEDs has to be properly managed and it is always worth paying that little bit extra for correctly heat sunk LED lighting. So you need to look at having your LED strip lighting in an extrusion as these extrusions will handle the heat issue. (Bear in mind that the brighter a light fitting, the more heat it produces and therfore the more heat sinking it requires). There are several different types of extrusions to choose from which are suitable for use as under cabinet lighting, kick strip lighting etc. You can also select the type of cover you can have on the extrusion. Many people don’t like the “spotting” effect you get if you are shining the lights down on to a shiny surface so make sure you select an opal cover on the extrusion.
Once you have made your choice of LED lighting, you then need to decide whether you want single colour or colour-changing LEDs. White-only LEDs come in a variety of colour temperatures – from warm white to cool white – as well as a new option of LED tape called CCT or colour control temperature. We are rather excited to see these LEDs on the market as you can alternate between warm white, daylight white and cool white all within the same strip lighting.
So, you have decided on your light fitting, you have decided on the colour option – now you have to decide on the type of controller to have. Again, there are lots of options on the market – ranging from a simple infra-red unit which requires a line of sight from the remote control to a sensor, to wi-fi units which can be controlled via a remote control or a smart phone app and wall mounted touch screens which can be linked into wi-fi or incorporated into smart home systems. All these controllers allow you to change the colour of the LEDs and the speed at which they change colour as well as the increasing and decreasing the brightness of the LEDs, but some of them have a memory facility in them so you can have hours of fun programming in specific colour sequences!
In order to get the most efficient LED lighting you need to do some homework, but the end result will be worth it as you will not only be saving money but you will have far more control over the lighting effects you can have in your property.
This project consisted of the conversion of a grade-II listed hotel near the Royal Albert Hall in London into 18 luxury apartments and two mews houses. The development was formed within the existing seven-storey building façade. The project also included the refurbishment and extension of existing mews houses located behind the hotel into luxury three-bedroom, two-storey mews houses. The architect contacted us as the designer wanted the interiors of these apartments and mews houses to have modern appliances and high-end finishes throughout and the designer thought that illuminated splashbacks met that criteria. All the kitchen cabinetry is white and the designer wanted the splashbacks to be illuminated with white-only LEDs. Following several site meetings and surveys, we produced the splashbacks for this development – some of which had to have additional design work carried out on them as they had to fit into the eaves of the building. As the splashbacks just have white LEDs in them there is no need for a colour control unit and the splashbacks are switched on and off via the main electrical circuit in each apartment or mews house. Installation was carried out by a two-man team over quite a period of time as there were considerable delays with the refurbishment, but the end result is a cool, calm effect in these high-end residences and these images show the splashbacks in both occupied and unoccupied apartments.
A London-based construction company contacted us as their client was building a new family home within a conservation area of an award winning 1960’s development in North London. Their client wanted to create an additional bedroom, bathroom, study, guest room and external deck and provide a practical back yard that could be enjoyed with improved access from the house. Their client also wanted something innovative, different and energy-efficient in their new kitchen and originally we were asked to quote for two splashbacks with just white LEDs. However, they then decided they would like to have two large splashbacks illuminated with colour-changing LEDs. We provided a quote and the client placed the order with us. We then produced technical drawings of their order which were signed off and we commenced production of the two splashbacks. The splashbacks run along two walls and meet in a corner and are controlled by an infra-red control unit. Instead of having just brushed stainless steel frames around the splashbacks, the home owners decided to have the frames painted white to match other surfaces in their new kitchen. (Our frames can be painted to match any RAL or Pantone colour if requried). The home owners are delighted with their LiteTile splashbacks and sent us these lovely images. They told us that when the splashbacks are set on green their children call them Shrek and when they are set on blue they are called Tron!