In the newly designed prototype for sandwich chain Pret A Manger, light rings the perimeter of the store and creates a visible focal point from the street to draw customers inside. A combination of fluorescent and LED sources offer color-temperature variability to respond to different lighting conditions throughout the day.

When it came time for Pret A Manger—a breakfast and lunch restaurant serving quick quality meals for the nine-to-five set—to refresh its image, the company had very specific ideas about what it wanted to accomplish. The chain's store design featured frosty glass and mirrored metallic finishes along with dark red walls and checker-plate floors. This composition combined with the lighting resulted in the unfortunate effect of transforming the shop windows into reflective surfaces, obscuring the interior from the street. For its next iteration, the company wanted to make the interior cozier, while at the same time making it more visible from the street.

Pret A Manger hired London-based interior design firm David Collins Studio and lighting designers Light Bureau to develop a solution for them at a new store on New Oxford Street in London's Bloomsbury district. Working together throughout the conceptual phase, the team warmed up the restaurant's materials palette, replacing many of the metal surfaces with wood, integrating bamboo into the checker-plate flooring, and swapping the dark red walls with fairface brickwork. Collins even redesigned the dining room's furniture, providing padded seating for a more comfortable experience.

The job of creating transparency for the shop windows fell to the lighting. Light Bureau settled on a strategy of lighting the perimeter of the space and grazing the brick walls, creating a visual focal point that would extend to the street. This was accomplished by integrating a continuous light cove around the edge of the store outfitted with 4000K 25W T5 fluorescent lamps and bespoke inline 3000K 2W LED fixtures with spread lenses. This solution also gave the restaurant the flexibility to deliver two different settings or moods—cool fluorescents for morning, and warm LEDs for afternoon—without having to rely on an expensive dimming control system. All that was needed was two switches. The team also placed 20W compact metal halide fixtures in the ceiling, which provide illumination for the seating areas, as well as to spotlight Pret A Manger's inspirational wall posters, which the company prosaically refers to as “passion facts.”

While the scheme delivered the effect the client wished, the company decided to do without the LED fixtures for its next store, as they proved to be too expensive. Light Bureau replaced these with 3000K fluorescent fixtures. But that change may not be permanent. “They are looking to use LEDs in subsequent stores,” says Paul Traynor, principal of Light Bureau. “They were used on a previous store we did with Pret and in the [project] de-briefing the team agreed [LEDs] worked really well, [plus] the price is coming down and their availability is greater.”


Project: Pret A Manger Concept Store, London

Client: Pret A Manger

Interior Designer: David Collins Studio, London

Lighting Designer: Light Bureau, London

Lighting Cost: $17,000

Project Size: 65 square meters (approximately 700 square feet)