Light is an invaluable tool for designers, unrivaled in its ability to alter the mood of a room in an instant. It dictates our daily rituals—when we rise, work, and rest. A subtle glow not only adds warmth and dimension to a space, it makes that space functional. But lighting also poses a unique architectural challenge since most fixtures require complex installations, which can absorb ceiling height. Finally, designers have a long-awaited solution.
Apure Architectural Lighting, a company known for its innovative portfolio since opening its doors in 2013, is disrupting the market with its latest collection—the patented MINUS series. For the first time, an LED downlight exists with the capacity to recess in less than one inch (<25mm). It’s nearly imperceptible, giving way to seamless modern spaces awash in light.
The MINUS LED is available in two forms: the MINUS ONE, which has a round finish, the MINUS TWO, which has a square louver designed by PORSCHE DESIGN STUDIO, and the MINUS THREE, a semi-recessed square finish designed specifically for artwork walls. Designers will take comfort in knowing all MINUS LEDs include proprietary precision optics, ensuring light only is delivered where it’s needed in a space.
Apure Architectural Lighting developed the series to create more space, literally. Each recessed light is held in place with a unique installation bracket, and enables architects and designers to work with their ceiling height, which otherwise may have been comprised for other lighting fixtures’ housings. The MINUS and its installation method also help reduce hefty costs often associated with full-fledged lighting installations.
“The MINUS is a unique product in that it requires less than 1 inch of recess depth. This is particularly helpful in new construction applications, where clients generally have to drop ceilings to accommodate recessed lighting,” says Philipp Petzold, VP of Apure Architectural Lighting and son of CEO Uli Petzold. “With the MINUS series, a drop ceiling is required to be no more than 1 inch without compromising performance.” MINUS lights are extremely versatile and can be installed under AC ducts, in showers, marine settings, and in nearly any material including drywall, millwork, stone, and metal ceilings.
LEDs in the series emulate the softness of natural light and reduce glare, partly due to the incorporation of proprietary lenses installed in each fixture, equipping designers with an ideal option for airy, contemporary projects. The reduction of glare is especially welcome in all lighting applications, residential and commercial, as it enables the ceiling to remain out of focus, emphasizing the interior elements and architecture.
The initial idea for the MINUS series partly stemmed from Apure Architectural Lighting’s in-house illumination planning studio, which works closely with clients and teams on each project. Apure Architectural Lighting’s hands-on, intuitive approach enables the company to better understand challenges today’s designers face. “After working on so many projects in which clients had to compromise further by dropping their ceilings to an unsuitable level (or forego recessed lighting all together), we realized the industry needed a new solution,” says Petzold.
Apure Architectural Lighting began developing the MINUS Series in 2016, with the goal of creating a high-performing light fixture that could be recessed in almost any application. In 2019, it’s safe to say: mission accomplished.
The MINUS series is offered with a 2700K, 3000K, or 4000K CCT with a Color Rendering Index of (CRI) 90+. It is fully dimmable, and proprietary microchip technology boasts a lifetime of 50,000 hours (LM80). Lumen output from source is 1140 and 4 fixtures can be powered by a single power supply. The MINUS is ETL listed, CE listed, Insulation Contract (IC) rated, wet-location rated, airtight, and IP66 rated by request.
These days,workplaces often contain cafés, wellness rooms, and lounges galore. But a bar? Not as likely… let alone four of them. But such is the case at the North American headquarters of the Campari Group—the Milan-based company famous for its bright-red namesake aperitif—that now also counts more than 50 other beverage brands in its portfolio, some of them, including Wild Turkey and Skyy Vodka, American. Mix them all together, and it makes Campari Group the sixth largest spirits company in the world—a feat worthy of celebrating. Genslerhelped the group do so with its new two-story New York office.
But first, some background. When the U.S. became Campari’s biggest sales market, executives decided to move the company from its San Francisco headquarters east. New York would be closer to Milan and other parts of its empire and help recruit top talent. “It’s the center of the action,” Ugo Fiorenzo, Campari America managing director, says of the city. He and his team selected two upper floors in the landmarked W. R. Grace building, doubling work space to 65,000 square feet and affording views of neighboring Bryant Park. “We were looking for that wow effect,” Fiorenzo adds.
“Don’t think all anyone does is party around here—foremost, this is designed for work.”
To live up to the expectation, Gensler principal and design director Stefanie Shunk made a pilgrimage to Milan to steep herself in the company’s 159-yearhistory and culture, which includes decades worth of art, among it posters commissioned in the early 1900s from Fortunato Depero and Leonetto Cappiello. Once back, she translated her inspirations into the design of the workplace, drawing on furnishings from such companies as Foscarini and Minotti and employing such luxe materials as Italian leather. “You gotta love it,” Shunk says as she trails her fingers over the hide covering the walls of the elevator lobby. She and her team specified it and much of the furniture upholstery in a deep blue similar to that in the Campari logo.
Further in, not a typical reception desk but an espresso bar—with barista—greets visitors, looking like it could have been spirited from Corso Magenta in Milan. In the shape of the letter C, its counter is topped in marble, Italian, of course, and features a brass footrest. Just behind it is another wow element: Gensler carved a double-height atrium through the two floors and inserted a 16-foot-tall cerused-oak wall assemblage inspired by a Depero brick artwork on a building facade in Italy. The installation here serves as a backdrop to a full-scale bar, also C-shape but in buffed brass, on the floor below. Dubbed the Fortunato bar, the environment has the look and feel of an urban five-star hotel.
The feeling changes to that of floating inside a bottle of Campari in the stairway connecting the floors. Walls, floor, and ceiling are drenched in carmine red, and LED strips along the coves and treads instill a nightlife vibe. A grid of steel-mesh lockers at the landing exhibits bottles of rare liquors produced by the Campari Group. Glimpsed through the lockers is an ornate crystal chandelier. Arrive there to find it suspended over yet another bar, this one inside a tall, slender jewel box. Intimate and hermetic, its walls are covered in an old-fashioned taupe damask pattern, and the bar proper is an elaborately carved mahogany antique. Inspired by a prohibition-era speakeasy, this Boulevardier Bar—named for the cocktail of sweet vermouth, bourbon, and, yes, Campari originating at Harry’s New York Bar in 1920’s Paris—is where top customers visiting the HQ are invited to sip special-edition whiskeys, rums, and liqueurs. It’s a wonder of a space.
Making sure the Campari bars not only look exceptional but also function extremely well “was the thing that kept me up at night,” says Shunk, who watched GoPro videos of bartenders at work to learn exactly where the sink, ice, and other components needed to be. That knowledge was essential to designing the office’s lablike academy, where master mixologists concoct cocktails and bartenders come for training.The café, which occupies a whole corner of a floor plate, functions as yet another bar, one that, with its brick wall, large windows, and Campari motto—”toasting life together,” rendered in neon—was intended to evoke and bring in the city.
Lest anyone think all anyone does is party around here, “Foremost, this is designed for work,” Shunk states. The office areas for the 135 employees composing the Campari Group and Campari America are spread across both floors. They are 100 percent open-plan with sit/stand workstations and tailored to hot-desking, meaning no assigned seats, so employees clear off desktops and stow belongings in lockers at the end of the day. Should staffers choose to sit, they do so in task chairs powder-coated red or blue. Hoteling stations give colleagues in from Milan or elsewhere places to touch down. Phone, meeting, and conference rooms are peppered throughout. There are no offices. There is a very executive boardroom, however, but Shunk situated it away from reception, “So it doesn’t shut down the main space when a meeting is on,” she explains.
For all the workplace savvy Gensler brought to the table, Campari Group contributed sophistication of its own. It was the management team’s idea to set up what it calls “viewing stands” near the office’s south-facing windows, where enormous red telescopes are pointed in the direction of the Empire State Building. Architect Matteo Ragni originally designed themto mimic oversize Campari soda bottles for a 2010 exhibition at La Triennale di Milano, but they also resemble megaphones. They seem to proclaim: Hey, Big Apple, Campari has arrived. Saluti!
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Project Team: Amanda Carroll; Megan Dobstaff; Stephanie Lan; Amanda Langweil; Andrew Stern; Laura Moran; Laura Bishop; Arielle Levy; Audrey Strom; Carly Klaire; Kathryn Morse: Gensler. Lighting Workshop: Lighting Consultant. Gilsanz Murray Steficek: Structural Engineer. WB Engineers + Consultants: MEP. A05 Studio: Fabrication Workshop. Island Architectural Woodwork: Woodwork. Mistral Architectural Metal + Glass: Metalwork, Glasswork. J.T. Magen & Company: General Contractor.
When YouTube took over the former Gap headquarters in San Bruno, California, it knew the 5,000-square-foot lobby required a refresh. The space needed to be welcoming, adaptable, and a versatile showcase not just for the brand, but also the work of YouTube’s 2 billion users.
Enter the team at Valerio Dewalt Train, who reduced the double-height atrium to its metallic structure illuminated by a full-length skylight. A green wall and stacked benches on the north side offer room to socialize. But the heart of the project is a digital wall. “It leverages a massive low-resolution screen into the wall construction,” says the firm’s principal Bill Turner, “creating an abstract dynamic backdrop to the space.”
There are 35,000 LEDs embedded around the displays, which are activated when users approach medallions on the floor beneath ceiling sensors. “They embody YouTube’s core principals while fostering a sense of discovery,” says studio director for media objectives Crystal Adams. Or, in other words, to click and play.
Recently, the design industry has made a marked shift toward LEDs, a sustainable alternative to conventional lighting. Using an impressive 90 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs, LEDs boast a strong and sturdy design that makes handling easier during project construction, installation, and transportation. Due to their extremely long service life—a staggering 25 years or 50,000 hours—low heat generation, and no UV rays (less risk of fading to wood finishes, fabrics, paint, and artwork), LEDs have fast become the go-to lighting solution for designers in search of illumination that bridges the gap between sustainability and functionality.