Interview / Event Technology Partners


Peter Veale / Firefly Lighting Design

What can we expect this year?

There are 2 main challenges this year, to work around the main theme of the ‘white box’ and to get people moving around the various spaces that make up the Farmiloe Building. We’re using both sound and coloured light to get people moving from one space to the next, as the awards are to be presented in 5 rooms, one after each other. We’re using white, coloured and Ultra-violet light to give depth and drama, as well as a night-club feel to certain areas.

What excites you about this year’s Restaurant and Bar Design Awards?

I was excited the moment I heard that it was going to be held in a building which was used for the Batman movies. Other than that, I love the fact that events like this can be lively, animated affairs with less constraints that permanent installations. Also, the design teams are very passionate about what they do, so it’s nice to work with people who are not just going through the motions. The energy levels often go up to 11!

What part does lighting play in events like this?

It plays a huge part. We have the opportunity to changes the feel, the energy and the points of emphasis in all the spaces. I love the fact that our lighting will change colour in time with the sounds to alert people that the awards are about to start. We’ve got glowing panels, bespoke pendants, UFO’s and glowing cubes. We’re going to make the 3-storey atrium space (as used in the movies) to look like a cinema, with a huge screen to show the shortlisted projects as well as highlighting parts of the building itself, even the cracks in the windows!

How has your past experience affected how you’ve approached your lighting design of this year’s awards?

It’s difficult to say. I suppose we’ve looked at the spaces, and the interior designs of each space and come up with a different solution to each, but knowing that the building gets very dark means we don’t have to be heavy-handed and blind anyone with too much light.

What’s different about the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards, compared to other awards evenings?

It’s the only awards night that doesn’t go anywhere near the black-tie banquet formula. Phew! It’s in a different venue every year and looks different every year. This year has even more variety as each of the 5 spaces is designed by a different team or former award winners.

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Simon Churcher / Keiba Solutions

What are Keiba Solutions doing for the awards ceremony?

At a basic level we are providing the audio-visual solution for the event along with expertise to help create some of the visual and lighting effects. More subtly though we are going to be picking up the ‘vibe’ of the event and translating this into light working with the guys at Firefly and amBX and combining this with other audio and video effects to create an engaging event.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenges in the awards ceremony project?

The awards are a unique challenge in that we have to create something innovative, interesting and of course functional within an evolving and fast moving brief. All event partners want to showcase their products or expertise and as such it creates a rich and creative environment to work in – the downside of course is in pinning down a final specification which can be tough with so many ideas! When we have a final specification, the work really begins in creating the final technology schematics, software programming and then the implementation and testing – There is really very little to no time for snagging.

Technology is used everywhere these days, what do you bring to projects and particularly to the awards ceremony?

Our role in integrating technology means that we have to not only realise the goals of other partners but also demonstrate what we bring as a company – a great, interactive lighting design needs ‘interaction’; audio-visual effects need distribution and displays; the whole event needs to appeal to its audience. Our role in this and any project is to take great technology, ideas and concepts and bring them to life. Some consider us the glue which brings together great technological parts into a great solution. Yes, we design and install all of the typical technology from lighting control through to audio and building management systems however these alone are rarely a solution in themselves hence why we position these systems as servants to the end customer goal.

What sets you apart from other technology solution providers?

It is very common for technology companies to start with presenting one or more pieces of technology and present them for sale or incorporation into a project. Not us. We prefer to start with the end goal – how do you want the end solution to look, feel and function? What features would you like to bring to the space, building or event? If you could put aside the technologies you know and just say how you would like something to work – how would that be? These are the typical questions which define success and of course success is our main aim. By taking these quite analogue questions and answers, we create typically digital solutions which are more often than not completely hidden from the end user. Technology itself is fairly meaningless – it is the results from technology that people really want and that is what we strive to give. In the same way as a good Architect will take a plot, concept and set of ideas from a client and design a building, we do exactly the same but for the technology which brings it to life.

What will be the next big thing in technology for bars and restaurants?

There have been many innovations over the last couple of years with the introduction of iPads , the e-Table (featured at Inamo) and more. These innovations typically focus on the more functional elements of service delivery – typically ordering food, drink and taxis. Most of the technology used in bars, hotels and restaurants (including the above innovations) are functional units, be it lighting control, audio, an ordering system or the point-of-sale solution. Over the next few years we expect this to evolve into providing a more complete and integrated solution, taking the emphasis away from innovative technology features and moving more towards providing the most seamless and engaging customer experience pre, during and post visit in a very subtle way. We see technology playing a more important role but in a much less perceptible way – thankfully something we excel in delivering!

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Neil MacDonald / amBX

Why is amBX involved?

amBX is keen to be involved to showcase our technology to the sector and the Awards are a very high profile event around which we can do that. We have been involved twice before, and the event has always been a great showcase.

What will amBX be doing?

amBX technology will be used to provide dynamic and interactive lighting at the event, designed to add impact to the overall experience as well as the actual awards themselves.

What is new and different for this year’s awards?

This year we are planning ways in which lighting can be changed to reflect the live atmosphere of the venue and therefore be truly interactive. We are also aiming to use lighting as a way of communicating to people. The possibilities for how lighting can be used have expanded massivelyand we want to bring some of that to the event.

What does amBX hope to achieve from its involvement?

Clearly we want to raise our profile with designers, owners and operators in the restaurant and bar market, but we also want to raise the awareness of the possibilities of lighting and get this highly creative sector adapting and using it in new and exciting ways.

Why should restaurant and bar designers consider amBX?

Every designer we have ever met has had ideas and concepts involving lighting which were not technically or economically possible to put into practice. We think our technology changes that, and designers should find out that the impossible or impractical can now be done!

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