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Pixel Cloud: Chef’s Table Chandelier in Moss Restaurant
“So when you get into the restaurant, there’s this big presence, which is the only one of its kind, floating there in mid air.”
A luminaire conceived, designed, built, and installed by Design Group Italia, Pixel Cloud represents the work of multiple disciplines in the fields of design, CMF, electronics, optics, and programming. Constructed in Italy, the chandelier was transported from the DGI’s Milan workshop to the Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland.
A floating succession of interconnected, three-sided cubes, the fixture endows the Chef’s Table at Moss Restaurant with uniform light while its warm tones shift imperceptibly, bringing unseeable motion to the delicate shadows cast by the objects on the lava surface below.
In totality, the luminaire aspires to unlock spatial delight in accordance with the principles of biophilic design, integrating the fractal patterns of nature and the possibilities of technology, becoming a catalyst for an unforgettable culinary experience as it enhances the chef’s delectable creations and enriches the wellbeing of the participants.
The concept originated from the mandates of the environment. In this case, the environment is defined by the hierarchical differentiation between the tables and the seating. The Chef’s Table is the centerpiece of the restaurant. In essence, it is the stage.
“We often say that light is never alone,” says Carlo D’Alesio of DGI, a co-creator of Pixel Cloud. “Light is a matter of context, perception, and of course, emission. So if you design an object of such importance, you have to take into account the whole thing: context, perception, and emission.”
Owing to its intrinsic status as a marquee element in the restaurant, the light is intentionally not recessed, floor-based, or hidden—as is the lighting design that governs much of the Retreat.
“So when you get into the restaurant,” says D’Alesio, “there’s this big presence, which is the only one of its kind, floating there in mid air.”
From the tangible to the ephemeral, Pixel Cloud is composed of four materials—an arrangement that triggers the interplay of space, matter, and illumination. Collectively, these elements form the three-sided cubes of the luminaire, giving it a distinctive, pixelated morphology.
With its infinite possibilities, light is the motivating force for the configuration of the assemblage.
Chosen for its capacity to augment the amplitude of the inter-reflection of the light modules, smoked mirror facilitates a dynamic, gossamer radiance among all of the OLED’s. “Inter-reflection creates subtle, imperceptible gradations in the color temperature of the light,” says D’Alesio.
Harvested at Blue Lagoon, lava stone was brought from Iceland to Italy, crushed into fine pieces, cast, and molded into shape—panel by panel. This element, an absorber of light, brings contrast to the inter-reflections of the smoked mirrors while evoking the volcanic vista outside the restaurant’s expansive windows.
Since the cubes are incomplete—half of each cube consists of empty space—the geometric gaps endow the whole assembly with an illusory buoyancy, giving the sensation that the light is floating in space.
With its design palette consisting of black, white, empty, and smoked mirror, the fixture is both decorative and tactile, muted and vibrant, substantial and weightless.
Modularity is a key principle of the light’s composition—mechanical modularity, hardware modularity, and programming modularity. “The basic module is a cube,” says D’Alesio. “But it’s never a solid cube.”
In its entirety, with all the modules connected, the luminaire is meant to evoke a cloud drifting in space or steam floating in air. Iceland’s ever-changing weather, its endless fluctuations in natural light, and Blue Lagoon’s volcanic terrain were inspirations for both the form and the function of Pixel Cloud. The CMF team at DGI endeavored to translate the enchanting coordinates of the exterior environment into a source of light that would bring maximum clarity to the Chef’s Table experience while never being intrusive.
The chandelier’s technology is unprecedented: 106 individually controllable OLED’s. Governing such a cutting-edge lighting array presented formidable difficulties. Overcoming these technical hurdles involved running 100 meters of cable inside the frame of the light and integrating more than 30 kilograms of electronics into the design. But these details of the light’s operational heart remain hidden from view. The essence of Pixel Cloud is not its manifest complexity, but its ingenious use of OLED.
“We were very lucky,” says D’Alesio. “When we started creating this in 2015, there was already new technology coming in terms of OLEDs. So we didn’t switch from the past to the present. We just started with the present—with cutting-edge OLED.”
A dynamic piece of lighting, Pixel Cloud plays to the duality created by the flames you see when you enter the restaurant—flames emanating from the fireplace in the lounge. Fire is the very essence of dynamic light. Thus, fire and OLED become mutually complementary propositions derived from the juxtaposition of elemental nature and high technology.
With two default settings, the light also has a multitude of customizable presets for special events.
Preset 1: Dining Scenario
“This preset was programmed to give you the impression of something moving,” says D’Alesio. But the intensity of the light on the guests remains constant. “When you dine you have two visual tasks,” continues D’Alesio. “The first is your dish and the second is the face of the people you’re talking with. So light levels—in quantity, in pure numbers—are in a delta of tolerance that cannot be perceived by the human eye.” In short, balance and subtlety are the the dining scenario’s defining characteristics.
Preset 2: Chef’s Entrance
An attention grabber, the chef’s entrance preset communicates the arrival of a new chapter in the Chef’s Table journey. The light intensity increases and the OLED palette comes alive as the chef introduces their gourmet creations. And once the introduction is complete, the light shifts back to the more gentle dining scenario. “When the chef is about to enter, the switch is flipped from dining to attention grabbing,” says D’Alesio. “The shift in light is almost aggressive, there is contrast, commanding the attention of the table. But when the entry preset fluctuates to the dining scene, the transition is fluid, subtle, and nearly imperceptible. Essentially you get the kick in, and then you slowly fade out to the dining scene. ”
Intended for special events such as weddings, birthdays, and banquets, Pixel Cloud’s customizable, supplementary presets provide flexibility, adaptability, and scalability.
A manifestation of the twist
Among the principles guiding the Retreat’s interior design, there is the notion of the twist. The twist is embodied by moments of surprise, deviations from the prevailing esthetic logic that provoke curiosity. The twist may take the form of a contrasting color, an unexpected shape, or a texture that expands the parameters of the established order. In the realm of the lighting design, Pixel Cloud is thus a manifestation of the twist. It represents the only moment in the Retreat’s public realms where a light fixture emerges from the sleek cohesion of the interior landscape. Elsewhere, light is always of the geometric plane, often conjuring impressions of illumination springing from unseen sources within the earth. But here, the futurist chandelier hangs suspended in space, detached from its environment, yet maintaining an ambient, enchanting continuity with the experience.
Dynamic. Diffuse. Delightful.
Through the harmonic convergence of form and function, Pixel Cloud brings forth the subtle variabilities of light and shadow that occur in nature. The fixture thus invests the Chef’s Table experience with the physically and psychologically nourishing properties of biophilic design, creating a confluence of light, matter, and technology that confers ephemeral pleasures on a timeless gourmet journey.