Project Thistlethwaite.

Martin College | 1582 - Commercial Decoration Studio | Assessments 1-3 | Lehonani McEchaidh

Of all of the projects I undertook as a student, it was the Heritage listed Thistlethwaite building I was called upon to design both specialised lighting and an boutique gallery for.  The brief was reviewed in two parts: the lighting fixture design and the boutique gallery, where both were given separate budgets and design timeframes.  The lighting fixture design was to be completed first.

So the owners requested I design a creative light fixture to reflect the artistic notion behind the refurbishment project design and set the ambient mood of the boutique gallery space. The custom light fixture is to be one or more fixtures seen as one single element; in the form of a single pendant light, table light/s, wall light/s, floor light/s, floor lamp/s, or even an artistic sculptural piece, free standing, portable or fixed. The light fixture design should be safe, locally manufactured, and considerate to the environment, within budget, sensitive to the project aims and aesthetically pleasing. Budget: $25,000.

The documentation required for such a task involved the creation of a Client Contract, a Design Intent Statement, a Project Timeline and Costing Spreadsheet; with a site analysis also to be conducted and research undertaken on the types of lighting that would best suit the site.  From this research I was to create 2 different design concepts out of a range of sketches, taking environmental, ergonomic, anthropometric and aesthetic implications into consideration.  Once I had completed the sketches, I was to document my light fixture in orthographic drawings - plan and elevation views - before creating a scaled 3D model of the lighting piece/s, and present my findings to the client.

As seen below, I chose to create a series of lighting to be seen as one piece.  I set about to create pendant lighting (floating/hanging lighting), downlights (above artwork lighting), wall sconces, floor and table lighting and a sculptural piece near the entry.

From these sketches, I set about creating the orthographic plans using SketchUp Pro.

I didn't foresee any issues at all; in fact, everything went very smoothly.  So I continued on, sourcing materials for the 3D model and having some fun creating scaled models of the lighting I had just put into plan.  It was an exciting time, as this was only the second time I had created 3D models, but the first on a scale as large as this.  I ensured all of the elements and principles of design were implemented, as with the ergonomics and aesthetics of the design build.  There were no issues with most of the build, and using actual lighting I sourced on eBay, I was going well, until I ran out of the material meaning I had to find something else.  As the images show, I did pretty well sourcing another type of material.  I used clay, and most likely will never do that again as it was quite heavy when hardened, meaning the whole lighting could have broken apart.  Thankfully, that didn't occur, but for future projects, it is best to buy extra of the first material you use!

The light - as if the lighting is turned on - is both a little trick photography and natural light.  Although the pieces are predominantly real lights, the set of lights purchased were chopped up to create many pieces, with many material explorations and combinations uncovered, so do not work..

Once completed, the entire lighting fixture designs were presented to the client who was overjoyed with the result.

Next came the brief for the boutique gallery, where Thistlethwaite owners engaged my services as an interior designer and decorator to create a design and decoration concept proposal for the full boutique gallery fit-out, including the design of the exhibition lighting. The renovation must incorporate a small entrance, seating for people to relax and contemplate the art, a projector system, screen, sound speakers, behind-the-scenes storage area for art and event equipment, floating portable walls and a reception/food/beverage counter with minimal integrated storage, with a budget of $300,000 for the boutique gallery, including the lighting and fit-out.  Moving forward, the exact same steps that were utilised in the design of  the light fixture design were taken with the design of the boutique gallery, only factoring in a Design Services Document - a record of your hours as a journal entry, the relevant codes and regulations required for work on a commercial heritage building in Victoria, along with relevant materials, finishes, lighting and climate control schedules.