With 250 years as a trusted crystal manufacturer, Baccarat has established itself as a brand of luxury and elegance. To enhance this reputation, Baccarat opened its flagship hotel in New York, New York, United States. The 50-story tower blends traditions of Paris hotels with the amenities of a modern five-star hotel.
The hotel designers conceptualized an idea of using Baccarat's famous crystal glasses on a wall with shimmering light. They knew they wanted something special, but turned to art and technology studio Sosolimited and Hypersonic Engineering & Design to execute the complicated plan.
The programmers and engineers at both firms worked to create 40 panels that made up a wall measuring about 4 m (12 ft) wide and 6 m (21 ft) tall. On the panels, the team installed 1,824 Harcourt glasses and 40 strands of iColor Flex LMX gen2 nodes. With 50 nodes on each strand, the individually-addressable, full-color nodes corresponded one to one to the glasses. Sosolimited with help from Philips Color Kinetics found a way to use mylar tubes to reflect the light from each LED node through the stem of the Harcourt glasses.
Sosolimited programmed the light in shades of white and gold to tell a unique story every time a visitor walks through the lobby. The crystal, while impressive on its own in maintaining Baccarat's image, is further complemented by the LED lights that shine through the glasses and create images that reflect the mood of the hotel and time of day.
"Our challenge was to make it interesting and unpredictable as you walk through the space," said Sosolimited Partner John Rothenberg. "We wanted highs and lows—soft textures that are suddenly punctuated by a burst of light and animation."
The lights go through three different shows in a 24-hour period. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. geometric patterns flow across the glasses. From 4 p.m. to midnight, the light flickers to mimic votive candles. And from midnight to 8 a.m. a column of smoke travels up the wall. These are the just the foundation of the light shows. On top of these background programs, different animation travels across the panels every minute or so. It looks like an explosion of quick visual bursts to keep the wall feeling fresh and dynamic.
There is also a light feature that marks the passage of time. The wall is divided in four columns. At 15 minutes past the hour, the wall goes dark and the first column fills with a new animation. At 30 minutes past the hour, two columns fill with the animation. The cycle continues until, at the top of the hour, all four columns are filled.
"The goal was to create a moment of wonder as visitors enter the hotel," said Rothenberg. "We wanted to reference the history of the Baccarat brand but also express that the hotel was a contemporary interpretation of the brand."
Together the crystal and LED nodes from Philips Color Kinetics transport visitors to a dream-like experience of a Parisian hotel in a modern Manhattan.
"I think it looks amazing. It's the perfect high-polish and totally unique entry into the Baccarat world," said Hypersonic Creative Director Bill Washabaugh. "And we didn't break a single one of the 1,824 Harcourt glasses in the process."