EST Lighting was founded by a trio with a passion for lighting, sharing 15+ years of experience. Three years on, they are fast becoming a dominant player in the lighting market, offering a curated mix of both architectural and decorative lighting products. We (Christopher Elliott Design Team) had previously collaborated with them on several of our residential projects, so it felt natural to be given the task of designing their Melbourne showroom.
It took some time to find the right site, that would warrant being a destination trade showroom. However, the final location was serendipitously perfect, conveniently situated in Richmond, next door to one of their represented brands, Articolo. The site presented many design challenges, given it was an almost vacant saw-tooth roof warehouse. Though this afforded us more freedom to push our creative thinking.
A major source of inspiration came from witnessing the way light interacted with curved surfaces. This became the foundation for the design with the formation of curved walls and partitioning. Then everything else flowed from there. We wanted to use materials that would have an interplay with light, such as the slatted timber of the island bench and s-fold curtain that flanks the entrance. These elements highlight the way light and shadows react beautifully with uneven surfaces.
The warm colour palette was conceived to offset the austerity of the building and juxtapose nicely with the industrial elements. We wanted the colour story to be tonal, and although we chose bold colours, overall they would act like neutrals. The success of any interior design lies in your experience of it, and this space showcases that beautifully. It’s more than a showroom and office. It’s like walking into a surprise wonderland filled with delights.
What was the design brief? The client wanted a central workstation where they could present products and workshop plans with their clients, who are primarily architects and interior designers. This discerning clientele, don’t typically respond well to a sales pitch but rather a collaborative approach. And so integral to the success of this area was the addition of a barista’s coffee machine. Though, this wasn’t an afterthought. In fact, it was the driving reason behind the showroom layout and something that EST Lighting took very seriously, enrolling their staff in a professional barista course.
As simple as it may seem, it allows EST Lighting’s clients to feel like they are at their favourite cafe, casually chatting. This informal service style is a modern approach to doing business that many progressive companies are taking on board. You only have to look at the success of the latest Apple stores. To see how the line between a customer and a consultant is blurred. And I’m sure it won’t be long before you can also get great coffee.
What were the key challenges? Our primary design challenge was that we didn’t have a finished ceiling to work with. We just had an industrial saw-tooth roof with exposed beams and service ducts. Not exactly ideal for a lighting showroom!
So a lot of the design resolve centred around rectifying this problem. Not only did we need a surface for locating the light fittings, but also we needed to limit the natural light into the space. And it wasn’t feasible to install a ceiling throughout the entire showroom.
Second, to this, it was important to create spaces within the space where lighting products could be featured or highlighted and not lost in a sea of competing products. Essentially, we didn’t want a ‘Christmas tree’ effect of a million lights seen together.
What were the solutions? Working to the challenges at hand we evolved a design that relied on contrasting the new components of the design against the raw nature of the warehouse building. Using soft voluptuous curves to create nooks that would emphasize certain feature products and highlight the way light interacts nicely with curved surfaces.