Posted by Sandra Brookes on 13 Jul 2020
The Four Seasons Astir Palace Athens has undertaken a complete overhaul. Located in the southern Athenian suburb of Vouliagmeni, the Astir Palace Resort opened in 1958 and evolved into a major resort in the 60s, where Jackie Onassis and Frank Sinatra, among others, have stayed. This was the place to be and a symbol of Greek hospitality situated on a private 30-hectare peninsula - just a short drive from Athens’ centre.
Astir Palace is launching a new chapter and appointed Lighting Design International to design the exterior and interior lighting for the two renovated hotels: Arion and Nafsika. They were inaugurated in 1967 and 1979 respectively, now part of the luxury Four Seasons hotel family. While structural elements the outer shell and some of the exterior walls were retained, both buildings were fully renovated. Lighting Design International worked closely with the design and project management teams to create a prestigious lighting scheme covering both the interior and exterior areas for both hotels.
The magnificent Avra Lounge can be found within the Nafsika Hotel.
LDI has an extensive Hospitality and residential lighting portfolio. Therefore, understanding and achieving lighting design with the Four Seasons ethos of “a home far away from home” in mind, was key for the success of the project. LDI has worked with Four Seasons Hotels in numerous occasions and understands their vision. The brief was to design a sophisticated lighting scheme for the Avra lounge with a distinctive residential feel, a glitzy yet homey lounge where the guests could relax and unwind after a day of beach or touristic pursuits. Fortunately this is what LDI is re-known for!
LDI’s main challenge was and still is, in many of our projects, and mostly Restaurants is to get the local contractor and project team to understand the value of lighting design and how it is achieved. Restaurants require a special candle-lit warmth ambiences reached through low levels of lighting, for the magic in the space to be ignited. Therefore the lighting and how it works is crucial to achieve the right ambience for a restaurant. Usually cheap alternative light fittings are proposed, as contractors and project teams don’t seem to understand how LDI achieves good lighting . It is normally thought that all light fittings are the same, that all lighting produced is of equal quality, that they all dim smoothly and are compatible with the control system. Unfortunately, with modern products that is not the case, and it is not as easily achieved.
In the past with the use of tungsten and halogen sources, a warm colour temperature was a given. Lovely warm lighting was naturally produced by these sources and once dimmed a warmer effect was achieved. Today, all manufacturers are trying to emulate these sources and the lovely warm effect they produced, with LEDs. Unfortunately, LED’s produce a more artificial feel to lighting, mostly if they are of substandard quality. A warming effect is not as easy to accomplish if it’s not done with a high quality LED sources and combining different manufacturers of LEDS within the same space tends to produce a patchy effect. We found throughout many projects, that the same correlated colour temperature in LED’s from different manufacturers looks different when seen side by side even if the end figure is the same. This knowledge and certainty is only acquired with experience and through working with the selected manufacturers who were key on matching the colour temperatures of all the fittings installed on site.
In current times with the new technology still in progress and with all the challenges this brings, we feel that getting the contractors project teams on your side in order to follow LDI’s specification, is possible the biggest challenge we were faced with.
Upon arrival to the Nafsika Hotel the guest is welcomed by the Reception area, where The Avra Lounge can be discovered as it slowly takes centre stage in a visual journey that feasts the eyes. The Avra Lounge is located within an impressive double space, below the reception area, extending views towards its glitzy interior and double height windows showcasing the incredible views outside. The interiors provide a distinctive look within the Hotel double space einvironment with its intense colours and bold patterns highlighted by soft lighting with a residential feel.
The space presents floor to ceiling windows and seamless lighting integration within the indoors and the indoor-outdoor spaces, was key. The warm welcoming atmosphere is provided mainly through decorative fittings and soft lighting integrated within the furniture and building fabric.
The jewel-like pendants in the Avra Lounge take the limelight as you enter the reception area creating visual impact. Oversized bespoke decorative luminaires with integral spotlights help to retain a clean soffit and introduces drama. A lighting control system was used to allow the lit canvas to be set seamlessly using adjustable scene settings.
Throughout the project low-glare fixtures were used, usually concealed within millwork and the buildings envelope. The fixtures specified use either warm or tuneable white (2700K-2200K) LED sources. All decorative lights were specified with 2200KLEdretro-fit lamps which combined with seamless control added warmth to the space. Tuneable white and dim to warm lighting was specified for the all-day bar and restaurants, which provided the flexibility needed for day and night atmospheres in a mainly daylit space.