Mindseye provided the lighting design for the recently unveiled monumental sculptures commissioned by HSBC to mark its 150th anniversary. The cast-bronze sculptures each represent a single grain of rice and stand proud at the head offices of the bank in its home markets of Hong Kong and London.
The exterior skin of each sculpture consists of 150 engraved images creating a narrative tapestry of HSBC's 150 year history. The interior of each sculpture is hollow, with polished bronze lining which catches and reflects the light.
The main challenges for lighting these vast sculptures were the restraints of where the actual lighting could be placed in very defined areas in both Hong Kong and London. As a result, bespoke fixtures were created, providing the ideal lighting, yet keeping the glare and fixture visibility to a minimum.
Each sculpture had to be considered independently and lit in very differing ways, based upon its location. In London the sculpture is smaller and positioned in the interior lobby of HSBC HQ in Canary Wharf and in Hong Kong the sculpture is much bigger and is situated outside the HSBC building.
At Canary Wharf, the existing floor and the ceiling restricted the usage to small luminaries only. The existing lit ceiling panels provide a constant diffused general light level. As Mindseye were unable to work with strong light/dark contrast as in Hong Kong, they took another approach and worked with light color contrast.
Instead of a strong top light, Mindseye chose to illuminate the front and the back from above, on the diagonal. The strong LED stage luminaries have been recessed between the lit ceiling tiles to minimize their visual impact. The back is lit in a cold bluish white, whilst the front is lit in a warm amber color.
The positioning of the front light has been carefully selected with the aim to utilize the inside of the sculpture as a mirror, to create a play of light reflections on the floor.
Framers make sure that there is no light spill. This approach leaves the two edges of the sculpture in relative darkness. Two up-lights accentuate the area of the sculpture where the matte dark surface changes into a reflective surface.
In Hong Kong, the main light for the 11 meters high sculpture comes from above. Four high output narrow beam LED projectors illuminate the exterior skin of the sculpture casting a strong shadow on the floor, therefore visually grounding the sculpture with the floor. The main light appears to come from nowhere as it is placed 40 meters above the ground attached to the external structure of the HSBC building. It emphasizes not only the upper part of the external bronze skin, but also the inner top edges of the sculpture. This top light draws the eye towards the upper part of the sculpture making one aware of its enormously vast height.
Two recessed floor up-lights pick up the "wings" of the edge of the sculpture, complementing the main light from above.
A bespoke recessed floor up-light sitting 6 meters away from the sculpture, shoots light onto the interior polished bronze area of the sculpture picking up the inner hood of the sculpture, creating a smooth golden glow.
The contrast of materials; a dark antique bronze exterior and a highly polished mirror effect interior and the sheer scale of the sculptures commanded a huge degree of understanding and sensitivity to the scheme, allowing the sculptures to make their own unique statements
The final lighting design, using unobtrusive light and invisible light sources, created a harmonious scheme that enabled Mindseye to do what it does best; putting the subject matter centre-stage whilst the light remains discreetly in the background.