Who is the client?
A private residence outside London through an ex-South African interior design firm called Rene Dekker Interiors.
Rene Dekker Interiors was the specifier on this project – had you worked with this design studio before? How was the connection made?
It’s a new client who was introduced through our UK agent, Cameron Peters Fine Lighting.
What was the brief from the client?
At first they gave us a fairly loose brief with free reign to develop the design concept. They supplied us with some conceptual mood boards and an organic conceptual drawing of two massive ceiling mounted installations in a large, open-plan dining and lounge room. The larger of the two installations was to be positioned above the lounge zone and the smaller above the dining room table.
What was the concept behind the design and what inspired it?
They were interested in a number of concepts including our Mandala design and we went through a number of ideas but eventually the client saw our Faraway Tree design and fell in love with it, so the project went in that direction. The concept evolved from Faraway Tree into a full scale “enchanted forest” of architectural proportions that one would literally be immersed within. The design then evolved into a series of spiralling and interwoven tree branches suspended at multiple levels like a gnarled and knotted enchanted forest.
How long did it take to produce?
This project was started way back in 2014 and was supposed to have been completed within one year. However the project was delayed a number of times from the client’s side and the completion date was pushed back by years! This was actually quite fortunate because we had another massive project which coincided with this, which was the four Mandalas for Crown Perth, each weighing 3-tonnes, which at one stage would have had to have been completed at the same time… That was a year ago!
What materials were used?
All willowlamps are made from the same set of materials and design methodology including ball chain, laser-cut stainless steel frame and our patented notch solution which allows such versatility. There are a number of customisations, however, and special, concealed LED lighting systems, which are independently programmed to adjust and control the lighting.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced on this project?
The sheer size of it, particularly the main tree which covers an area of 6m x 3m. This meant that the work had to be split up into separate modular elements that will need to be pieced together on site. And each layer of branches is lifted independently and attached to the tree branches. The middle tree branch weights about 500kg and has to be bolted together on the ground and then hoisted into position via a series of pulleys.
Another major headache was the lighting system. The client didn’t want to see any light source other than the LED edge lights wrapping around the branch. They didn’t want to see any individual bright bulbs. We had to find a special G4 LED lamp that was flush mounted with the top of the tree branch that would illuminate the upper canopies but remain invisible to the eye.
The fixing solution was also a challenge. We had to find a way to mount the upper tree branch to precise fixing points under a suspended ceiling and anchor it to the main structure above. We worked in collaboration with the architects and engineers to develop the solution to this.