For all their luxury, salons are hardworking spaces. Even a simple manicure involves nail filing, which produces particulates, and nail-polish removal, which uses solvents that are tough on furniture. So when Bliss spa commissioned lighting designers David Weeks and Lindsey Adelman of Butter to create a floating-cloud light fixture above the nail station of their W Hotel outpost on Lexington Avenue, in New York, the solution needed to be as practical as it was ethereal. The original idea—to hang a large cluster of miniature versions of the firm’s signature paper shade, Lunette—was abandoned out of concern that it would become a dust trap.
“The art direction was increasingly scaled back until the design became a graphic abstraction of a cloud,” Weeks says. Using a grid of 2,400 thin aluminum rods screwed into a 34-inch-by-34-foot ceiling panel—Weeks likens it to a pincushion—the designers suspended a set of white acrylic rods at different heights to form an undulating wave that is illuminated by recessed halogen bulbs. “It’s just this blur of rods,” the Brooklyn-based designer says. “The multiple aspect of it is really satisfying.”
Production of the piece had to be equally efficient. “The final design was a way to try and make the contractors happy,” he says. “That’s always the trick on this kind of job.” Weeks and Adelman sent the contractor a pattern indicating where the light mounts should go, and had a machine shop in Long Island cut and thread the aluminum panel on a CNC mill. When the designers showed up all they had to do was install the rods.
The technique is also versatile, according to Weeks. “It would be fun to use in different applications,” he says. “You could customize it for specific spots—do waterfalls or columns. You could change the elements that are attached to the rods, the lighting. You could do so many things with this setup.”