Photo Credit: Caprice Johnson
While the design focuses on history it also adds modern artwork for an essence of luxury.
How many times have you seen images on the Internet and wondered, “Where did they get this gorgeous photo?” The pictures of Zero Bond had that effect on me. I was honored to be one of the 2021 IESNYC Lumen jurors and when I saw the images of Zero Bond, I had to see it in person. The project earned the Lumen Award of Merit.
Zero Bond is a 20,000-squarefoot exclusive membership club in NoHo, the heart of Manhattan. The site was converted from an old industrial building to an exclusive members-only club. The architect wanted to keep this historic shell intact, while also creating a very highend and modern feel for club and restaurant lighting. It is situated among a historically significant neighborhood and brings ‘chic’ to this area. While the design focuses on history it also adds modern artwork for an essence of luxury.
After my site visit, I had the opportunity to zoom with Focus Lighting’s Edwin Allen, one of the designers that worked on the Zero Bond project, to discuss different aspects of designing innovations they applied.
There is a gallery to showcase artwork which gives the place a high-end restaurant/club aura. Edwin explained that a major goal of the owner was to create an “Instagramable” space where influencers would want to take pictures in front of the cool architecture and lighting. Edwin said, “Lighting the background like curtains, arches, and art for guests to take pictures and post on social media, works as an important marketing strategy for the club.”
Edwin noted that its original industrial aspect was very prominent with bare white floors, white ceilings, and a factory floor. Nevertheless, it had some fantastic architectural gems including brick arches and window frames, which they wanted to emphasize with illumination.
Upon my visit, I was greeted by a magnificent Baccarat chandelier in a glass box, on the first floor, courtesy of one of the owner’s partners.
The ceiling is a high-reflective mirrored finish; a futuristic play with existing brick walls and a modern fixture that makes the pendant appear even more iconic. The uniqueness of this glass is that it is a slightly curved mirror that reflects the name ‘Zero Bond’ on the floor.
There are beautiful iconic and textural archways at the entrance of each floor. Originally, piping wrapped around the arches for the boiler system. The pipes were removed, and the archways lit using sealed in-grade luminaires from MP Lighting. Edwin said, “Originally we used a spot optic, but the light could not quite travel to the top of the arch, so we switched to a medium spot.” The perfectly placed medium flood LED lighting illuminates the inside of the archways without any spill affecting the rest of the room. To better follow the curve of the arch, Edwin worked with the architect to ensure the ceilings were painted a dark color, giving the archways a beautiful glow and making them stand out from all the space around them. The uplights were 2200 Kelvin and also accented the bronze curtains and red brick walls.
Zero Bond has a library with numerous glass cases using custom metal work and 30 LED strips from Q-Tran. The library hosts books covering everything from Picasso’s life and work to the history of Ottoman court fashion. The challenge for the installation was to perfectly hide the wires as the power supplies were remote mounted in the ceiling. During the day the library and the back bar have a dynamic white back wall adding a cooler effect complimenting the skylight. In the evening, without the effect of the skylights, the color warms to 2400 Kelvin.
The Bar and dining area have a very interesting lighting story. Usually, in a historical building the location of track lighting is determined by the location of the rafters. In the case of Zero Bond, the beams were added in locations that would best accommodate and conceal the Alcyon two-circuit track lighting by Signify’s Lightolier. The ceiling is a theatrical grid bringing attention to each table with a precise, warm spotlight.
One of the biggest decisions for the project was what type of light source to use for the accent lighting. After reviewing different LED options and their relative pricepoints, the Owner decided that it was worth the extra maintenance to use low-wattage (20w) halogen bulbs. During level setting, Focus set the dimming to below 30% to greatly increase lamp-life and add even more warmth to the space. Splashes of colors like purple and magenta, on simple silvery grey furniture are added after 10 pm, to transform the lounge into a nightclub space.
Edwin explained that the focus was to spotlight every table to enhance the appearance of food and drinks. Different layers of light ensure that drinking and dining partners look great as well.
The fourth floor of the club acts as a private gallery, with exquisite artworks adorning the walls. This rotating gallery features statues and paintings by local artists such as Keith Haring, Claes Oldenburg, and even some Andy Warhol, adding to the sophisticated and trendy ambiance. The owner was concerned about the level of lighting that would complement the artwork. The below picture is a permanent sculpture of Basquiat and the back of the sculpture is hollow and covered with gold. Edwin used spotlights to accent the sculpture’s artistic value, saying, “We had to shoot some light into the back of his head to make the piece sparkle.”
Mesmerizing magic happens in the open sky ceiling. Edwin says the installation was time consuming as they assembled this breathtaking fixture on site. A friend of the owner helped supply simple PVC pipes with sockets on each end of the pipe. A track fitter was adjusted on each end of every stick, and the pipe was painted gold to give a metallic finish.
The fixture uses 25-watt candelabra base incandescent bulbs which are dimmed down to 10% for a warm glow and longer lamp life. Edwin said, “We were concerned about using LED just because of the potential noise with so many fixtures on one circuit.” Given the dimming, Edwin estimates the Kelvin temperature is 1800 to 2000. He said, “There was a lot of trial and error in the commissioning but in the end, this nest-like design structure has the outline of an eye and strongly appealed to the architect and the owner.”
The windows were also part of the lighting design. Different light fixtures, optics, and lengths were considered before deciding on the Boca Flasher NanoLume 2-foot fixture that fit in the center of the window frame hidden behind a valence, with a medium spread lens. The windows were 2400K.
The Lutron HomeWorks system was specified for controls, and it worked perfectly because HomeWorks is a module system that can handle many small zones. Both floors are on the same Lutron system. This also grants the owner access with his iPad or iPhone. There are a few button stations mounted near the bar and host stand for physical control. Edwin said, “They don’t use timeclocks when they want to change the scenes as they much prefer a manual control so they can feel the mood of the crowd.”
Edwin said, “The goal of the project was keeping the historic shell intact while still giving out the high-end club feel to the building.”
The lighting design was created with such grace and the most prominent design features include warm lights and attractive splashes of colors creating a cozy and romantic atmosphere.
Zero Bond aims at providing a luxury safe place for gatherings and business meetings. Edwin points out that this project needed creativity and an innovative approach to keep things within the budget. Edwin further stated, “The team kept the concept simple but elegant and that’s how we end up with this comforting home-away-from-home magnificent establishment.”
ZERO BOND: Signify Lightolier, Boca Flasher, MP Lighting, Q-Tran
“The team kept the concept simple but elegant and that’s how we end up with this comforting home-awayfrom-home magnificent establishment.”
― Edwin Allen
This article was originally featured in the August issue of designing lighting (dl)