CHALLENGE: To illuminate a narrow space featuring a distinctive curved 14-foot-tall wall of red lacquered plate steel while ensuring that the red does not overpower the retail venue.

SOLUTION Elizabeth Arden's signature color is red, so it's fitting that a red door has welcomed visitors into the flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York since 1930. In the newly remodeled 900-square-foot space, an eye-catching 14-foot-tall red-lacquered plate-steel wall now curves through the narrow volume. With such a bold use of color, it was important to make sure everything else in the store—including employees and customers—didn't end up bathed in a red hue. Moreover, the lighting consultant, Randy Sabedra of RS Lighting Design in New York, wanted to keep the lighting design minimal. “I'm sure there was some apprehension from the owners and architect that we weren't doing ‘normal' stuff,” he says, such as using more standard, traditional fixtures. “But it shows visually in the space and works really well.”

“We came up with the idea that we'd have a lighting solution that featured the red wall but gave white light into the space,” Sabedra says. “That's where the backlit lens cavity came into play.” Following the curve of the red-lacquered wall, the cavity is approximately 18 inches deep and 12 inches wide, and it incorporates 50W Biax lamps positioned about 1 foot above a diffused membrane. Sabedra says an early challenge of the lighting design was ensuring that the cavity was appropriate for the space and that it allowed the lamps to deliver direct white light.

Fabricated from factory-bent steel with a glossy finish, the curving red wall is the store's boldest architectural statement. In the ceiling, a curving band of light from 50W Biax lamps flows with the wall. The width of the curving backlit cavity was an important element in preventing the store, its contents, and its customers from appearing red.

An overscaled cabinet to the left of the store entrance was designed to contain active video and ad campaigns. “At some point we realized the potential for it being too visually loud, so [the active video] turned into static background graphics,” Sabedra notes. To illuminate the cabinet, he designed parallel rows of square open accent lights with single and double 75W AR111 lamps.

Flanking the mirrors at the makeup stations are vertical linear fixtures featuring frosted glass with a T5 lensed lamp to create diffused light. “It was key that there was soft diffused lighting to highlight the faces,” Sabedra says. Also, some of the accent lights above the stations—65W MR16 lamps arranged in a radial pattern—are aimed toward the customer sitting in the chair, providing additional lighting.

The incandescent chandelier hanging in the back of the Elizabeth Arden flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York is a vintage luminaire discovered by the store owners. It is meant to be a visual highlight in the narrow space. To make the company's products visually pop off the shelves, the lighting designers specified warm white LED linear case lights with a color temperature of 3000K.

While ads along the walls are backlit with T5 fluorescent lamps, Sabedra nixed the fluorescent system originally planned to illuminate the product shelf display niches after seeing a mock-up. The manufacturer happened to have an LED linear case light on hand. “When we plugged it in, it fit perfectly and the color was beautiful,” Sabedra says. The owners loved the 3000K warm white LEDs, each of which has a lens to redirect the light cleanly and ensure that the color does not shift.

The back of the store, near the Red Door Spa entrance, features a vintage chandelier—a subtle reminder that Elizabeth Arden has been at this location for more than 75 years. Found on a shopping trip by the store owners, the incandescent crystal chandelier has the sparkle and scale Sabedra was after. “The primary goal of the chandelier was to be a visual highlight at the end of the store,” he says, noting that the luminaire achieves its purpose amid the store's minimal yet striking lighting design. “Everywhere you look something catches your eye and seduces your senses.”

Project Elizabeth Arden on Fifth Avenue, New York
Design Team Highland Associates, New York (architect); RS Lighting Design, New York (lighting designer)
Project Size 900 square feet
Images Courtesy of Elizabeth Arden
Manufacturers Bartco Lighting, Legion Lighting, Lutron, Mark Architectural Lighting, Philips Color Kinetics, RSA Lighting