Spring, Paul Nulty
Spring, Paul Nulty Lighting Design

We have been more than impressed by the frankly jaw-droppingly beautiful interiors of Skye Gyngell’s new restaurant Spring, at Somerset House, not least helped by the incredible lighting architecture. Keen to find tricks of the trade and the genius behind the concept we did some investigating and were introduced to the man himself, Paul Nulty of Paul Nulty Design

With one of the key restaurant events coming up (Valentines) which demands mood lighting more than any other night of the year, we asked Paul the inside track on the role and impact of lighting in restaurants.

“Every restaurant strives to be unique and create an environment that resonates with its diners, from a traditional, intimate and romantic atmosphere to a more modern and minimalist approach. What they each have in common is the desire to create impact. Interior design is part of that impact but it is lighting that creates the ambiance, mood, contrast and drama.

VQ Night  Exterior
VQ Night Exterior

The significance of restaurant lighting, where a positive emotional connection is key to a customer’s enjoyment – irrespective of the food – is paramount. When we choose a place to eat, we choose the emotion we want to experience and this influences our decision of where we go.

By using table lamps and accent lighting and carefully balancing illumination from the front to the back of the restaurant and creating depth, the space can feel intimate and warm; the impact of a candle in the midst of soft illumination is like that of a camp fire at night where couples draw closer.

Lighting can also be fresh and invigorating, highlighting surfaces and materials, creating gleam and vibrancy; it has the ability to raise a restaurant’s noise levels, creating energy and exhilaration. Such is its power that scientists have identified lighting as having the greatest influence over mood and behaviour.

Fischer's Restaurant, Paul Nulty Lighting Design
Fischer’s Restaurant, Paul Nulty Lighting Design

But why is it that such an intangible substance exerts so much authority and yet is so often overlooked?

The key word is intangibility – you can’t touch light, you can’t even see it, you simply see the surfaces with which light interacts. What is exciting for a lighting designer is that we all have the ability to control how light influences the emotional connection we have with our surroundings.

Lighting has the ability to create turn a beautifully designed space into a cold and inhospitable environment; it also has the ability to make a bleak space engaging and warm. (Some) restaurateurs know this and when designing their restaurant seek to engage a specialist team of lighting designers. These designers start with the most important question: “How do you want your customers to feel?”.”

Paul Nulty, Head of practice, Paul Nulty Lighting Design

For more information go to www.paulnulty.co.uk


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