Friday, 29 November 2013

Restaurant Lighting....

.... and its effect on our dining experience?

James Balston
Designing a themed lighting system for any restaurant must surely be an art form and if it proves a success, then clearly it is representative of the designers vision.
 For me personally, the lighting in a restaurant is one of the key ingredients, even before the food, that plays its part in creating the ambience and setting the mood within its venue. Whether it artistically illuminates a hand crafted piece of wall art or glares starkly over our 'burgers and chips' (love Byron at the moment), the lighting in a restaurant plays an important part in our dining experience!  For example, use of colour has been shown to affect appetite. Warm colors generally are supposed to enhance appetite while cool colors suppress it. Using different coloured lighting is supposed to influence our emotions and moods which plays an important part in our responses to food and ultimately, effects how we feel in a venue, the choices we make and how we then enjoy our meal, or not ! Blue is supposed to be calming and certain shades of yellow, as seen in the picture above, are believed to evoke a sense of space and openness which helps us to relax and unwind.  Using bright and colourful lighting in fast food outlets creates a sense of energy and movement, attracting its flow of customers to a more transient culinary experience. In stark contrast, using a dim, soft and richer lighting helps to create a calming atmosphere for a more intimate and romantic evening dining experience. 

Courtesy of James Balston

Incorporating more luxurious and decorative lighting into the design layout of the dining area above has helped  to set the mood and theme of this oriental restaurant. 

As a Photographer I am fascinated by light and how everything changes throughout the day as the light changes. How this effects our wellbeing , perception and mood is interesting. As light is either absorbed or reflected constantly so does colour and in a restaurant this can add interest to the food as it can change its colour. Remember the old fashioned burger bars with such harsh lighting the food would appear almost iridescent! This however did not put me off eating my knickerbocker glory despite the cherries which looked positively radio active!

Getting the lighting right or wrong, those first steps into the restaurant which could either win you over or have you heading back out the door in a flash! Only this year in a restaurant in sunny Marbella,  I could barely see the floor below me, let alone the table!  'They don't want me to see the food', was flashing through my mind as I fled back out into the street! 

The bright colourful fluorescent lights shining out from duke boxes and slot machines in bars and pubs are an attraction to customers and add to the ambience of the venue. 

On a shoot recently, I visited the Brasserie Hudson Quay, a European style destination restaurant in Middlesbrough where part of the style and ambience has been set by the clever use of lighting in its design. Fluorescent blue bar panels, soft overhead table lighting just above eye level are complimentary to the face and using lots  of candles softly illuminating ornate vintage candle holders all adds to the ambience. For me personally, it's all in the lighting!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Planning your wedding?

Award Winning Teashop Living Pretty in Somerset has some

'Great gift ideas' 

Living Pretty

On planning your big day, whether you are looking at hiring a refined Indian wedding tent from Raj Tent Club or booking a  Somerset Barn conversion, the beautiful range of wedding gifts and bespoke catering services on offer at Living Pretty in Somerset, will most definitely add something special to your wedding preparations.
Wedding Gifts at Living Pretty

Living Pretty has a vast collection of shabby chic and vintage style giftware. Incorporate the vintage look to your table centrepiece by using an antique birdcage illuminated with a few scented tea lights.

Add a touch of romance by hanging a few decorative sweet wishes signs on the tables and chairs.

Enjoy a range of delicious home cooked food at Living Pretty from canapes 

to scrumptious High Teas served on vintage fine china and ornate stylish cake stands.

Embellish your guests table place setting with cupcakes and 


Stunning wedding cakes made to order at Living Pretty!

Living Pretty in Somerset

Thursday, 21 November 2013

How to create bespoke homes

Interior Design Tips  from Casa Forma

Your home is the most important space and is one environment where you can really relax with your family and friends and enjoy the time away from work – in essence it’s your sanctuary. The design of a new home is so important and you have to ensure the sense of space is right and the design is suited to your own individual requirements. 

Photographs courtesy of James Balston

Ensuring that your home will have a timeless design with a focus on quality, functionality is very important. The best way to do that is to start planning the layout, and it is very important that a room isn’t overcrowded with large furniture ensuring that a room allows for easy flow and movement within the room. Optimal layout involves placing clusters of furniture which encourage interaction and socialization. When furniture is placed in the center of the room, this layout emanates warmth and comfort.

Coordinating beautiful furniture pieces with accessories enhance the design. In order to achieve a balanced luxury interior design scheme which emanates harmony and beauty is essential, display your favourite objects only - less is more. If you don't have room, store accessories and antiques away and change the collection you display from time to time. Your furniture can also add texture to your room. If you choose leather, just place some soft throw pillows to balance the masculinity of the leather.

Living Rooms

The living room is a key place to start designing, it’s an area where it must provide comfortable seating for all sorts of occasions and flexible enough to cater family needs. Dimensions of your living room is critical, sketching out your ideal furniture arrangement is useful in deciding the correct dimensions of free standing furniture and joinery, where the main flow of the room will be and uninterrupted spaces. Considering this the next thing to think about is your seating, perhaps it’s a contemporary L shaped sofa or a distressed chesterfield to add character and masculinity to the room. Occasional seating can be added, these can also bring accents and textures to the room with upholstering or even adding color accents with the use of cushions.

Adding and displaying objects can compliment your living room, perhaps with family photos or sculpture from vacations or travels. Again here is where you can create accents in color or textures, think of your Living room as a bare canvas and personalise it a way that describes your personality. Throws, cashmere covers and cushions in accent colors add interest to an interior design scheme. Pure wool velvet and silk rugs add a final sophisticated touch. In choosing your carpets and floors make sure that the colors will match other elements in the room.

Casa Forma love using beiges, creams, caramels, and chocolates. Warm colors and soft gold tones do lend themselves adding an element of glam, but unlike silver accents, gold is much more of a softer accent color. However, when using a more neutral color scheme, use a variation of materials ranging from stone, wood, or fabrics. 

Using a diverse mix of matrials adds interest and variation to the room, allowing a neutral color palette look interesting rather than bland. Darker color palettes can be used in bedrooms with accents such as burgundy or navy blue. Kitchens with a splash of colour – yellows, greens or even deeper reds or violets look great because these colours are reminiscent of food and add a positive and fun vibe to the kitchen design scheme.

The bedroom is the most personal of spaces, again it is a space which can reflect ones personality and you shouldn’t hold back on expressing your taste. Linking the colour scheme throughout your home is something to bear in mind though when putting your scheme together. Introducing neutral tones in a bedroom's color scheme is always a safer option where stronger elements can be added.

Bedroom furniture doesn’t always necessarily need to match in finish, bedside tables can be of a different wood or metal, perhaps adding another accent or texture to your room. Make sure you have one either side of the bed as this will create symmetry and balance . You can add further symmetry and balance with adding furniture at the base of your bed, either with a day bed or even ottomans.

Giving importance to your bed with introducing a oversized headboard is a good option for a bit of drama, you will also find it will emphasise the ceiling height of your room. Headboards don’t necessarily need to be mounted to a bed they can sit behind an existing smaller headboard if it is already part of your existing bed giving a sense of depth. Headboards can be upholstered in different textures or colors, padded and framed ensuring importance to your bedroom.

Bathrooms are an area where the creative spirits can truly flourish. Be it a dramatic all black or chocolate, a glamorous all gold, a minimal all white or grey scheme depending on the desired effect one wanted to achieve, a bathroom is a great canvas.

Natural materials, timbers and metals with strong personalities will add a certain homely feel to interiors. The same goes for paintings and accessories. With the aim to create interest, it’s good to use a mix of materials in the same color scheme.

Lighting is one of the most overlooked and yet one of the most important elements of good interior design. It’s essential in terms of creating the mood and ambience of a living space, so getting it right from the start is vital. When thinking about lighting, it tends to be artificial light that comes to mind, however it’s best to optimize the use of natural light. This tends to be more practical and natural light really enhances a space better than artificial light. The use of sculptural soft lights and candles will create a sophisticated ambiance by creating interesting shadows.

Casa Forma Interior Designers in London
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Casa Forma is an award winning architectural and luxury interior design firm headquartered in London