Corner Bar, Tate Modern
Tate Modern’s new riverside venue, Corner, bridges the gap between art and gastronomy. Its lighting design by There’s Light seamlessly transforms the venue from a vibrant daytime café to an enchanting evening bar while embracing sustainability and artistic integration.
Tate Modern has unveiled its latest addition, Corner, an all-day café and bar situated on a scenic riverside summer terrace. This unique venue marks a significant milestone as it is the first time Tate Modern offers visitors a place for an evening drink on the riverside. The venue seeks to bridge the gap between art and gastronomy, providing a diverse program of events catering to all visitors, from families enjoying a day out to friends meeting for after-work drinks, local Londoners and overseas visitors, alike.
At the heart of Corner’s design, sustainability and the circular economy played a crucial role in shaping the venue. Collaborating with design firm Holland Harvey, the space underwent a transformative process that stripped back and opened up the area, integrating bespoke furniture from Goldfinger and innovative tabletops created by Spared, which ingeniously reused Tate Coffee grounds.
The lighting design was crafted by the visionary minds of There’s Light, a renowned company known for its innovative and creative approaches to illuminating spaces. The lighting design at Corner serves as a defining element, seamlessly transitioning the venue from a vibrant day-time café to an enchanting night-time bar. Guests can experience an ambiance that artfully compliments the surrounding installations, adding a touch of magic to the riverside experience.
A bespoke lighting design for an epic landmark.
Fabio Cristini, Creative Director at the studio explains that the decision to take on the lighting design project was driven by the profound association of the Tate with art and its global recognition as a monumental architectural landmark. This prestigious status, he says, combined with its appeal to design enthusiasts and architects worldwide, ignited tremendous excitement and enthusiasm within the There’s Light studio when they were chosen as the lighting designers for the new venue.
Understanding the client’s vision for the space, explains Darran Prior Project Lead at There’s Light, led them to recognize that this project needed to serve a dual purpose. Their primary challenge was to craft an adaptable lighting scheme that could cater to the café’s operational requirements while seamlessly transforming from a vibrant, family-friendly daytime destination for diverse Tate visitors into a warm and intimate evening space for patrons seeking a riverside drink experience after the gallery’s closing hours:
“We began conceptually by aligning our thinking with that of the architects who wished to design this space as an extension of the public realm, and thus every element of the project needed to be inclusive, functional, and beautiful, principles which ultimately drove our decision making throughout the process,” says Darran;
“To bring an additional layer to the lighting scheme, we designed bespoke decorative fixtures that were intended to be uniquely Tate rather than a standard off-the-shelf product. They were manufactured by the talented artisan Georgios Pitsillides from his family-run workshop in Cyprus and took inspiration from utilitarian brutalist 1970s streetlights. These can be seen framing the curved bar, along the high-level window seating and fixed from the ceilings as feature pendants illuminating the perimeter bulkhead looking onto St Paul’s Cathedral on the other side of the river”.
Circular lighting solutions.
To significantly advance the venue’s sustainability goals, There’s Light collaborated with British manufacturers employing circular economy principles;
“As a design practice, we are acutely aware of our responsibility to promote technologies and techniques that embody strong ethical and sustainable standards. This belief and our previous experience coalesced with the client’s design needs and sustainable values as they strove to ensure all aspects of the project respected these principles.”
“For our part, we worked closely with B-Certified British manufacturers that employ the principles of a circular economy in their manufacturing process. This is exemplified through fixtures such as the high-level track spotlights, which are made from raw aluminum, left purposely unfinished, celebrating the product’s natural material.”
This design choice, explains Fabio, also removed the addition of toxic powder-coated paints from the product. In addition, the fixtures themselves consist of simple and replaceable parts making them easy to reuse, recycle, upgrade, and disassemble using hand tools at the end of the product’s lifespan.
Adaptable lighting solutions for day-to-night transition.
The transition from a day-time café to a night-time bar required adaptable lighting solutions. These solutions had to not only address the technical aspects of the lighting design but also be customized to meet the ongoing dynamic needs of the space.
“To help reduce the adjustment period of our visual system when entering from bright outdoor conditions to internal artificially lit space, we utilised various design techniques to improve the perception of brightness of the space during daylight hours. This included the application of a neutral matt finish to all the exposed services to help reflect the LED linear up light located on the cable trays and reduce the contrast ratio by mitigating strong shadowing.”
“The LED linear up lights were also specified with a much cooler colour temperature than other fixtures in the space, to help mimic the cool reflected daylight we are accustomed to from the outdoors. This extensive use of cool indirect light during the day also reduces shadowing below, amplifying the effect of ambient light and increasing the perception of brightness further,” Fabioexplains;
“As the space transitions into a night-time bar the intensity of the reflected light from the cable trays drops and direct accent light with warmer colour temperatures increases from integrated sources in joinery and focused directional light onto artwork, plants, and furniture. The shift in focus from a brightly lit open space to a more dispersed yet controlled direction of light, directly contributes to the intimate setting in the evening. This is achieved by directing light to specific areas only and favouring warmer colour temperatures to alter the appearance of materials and reinforce the feeling of a cozy intimate environment”.
Artistic and culinary lighting integration.
There’s Light cleverly incorporated their lighting design, seamlessly melding it with the artistic installations and the overarching concept of the venue, infusing a cinematic touch into the experience. Fabio elaborates:
“We worked closely with the architects on their conceptual vision for the space and took further inspiration from the monumentality of the Tate Modern itself as well as from the urban realm surrounding it – both large in scale and functional for a diverse range of people’s needs”.
“We drew much of our visual inspiration from artistic movies such as Blade Runner, with its strong contrasting scenes and overly saturated colour and warmth. This can be seen through our implementation of directional light and low-level integrated light within the plinths to ground an artistic concept and vision on a human scale”.
“In the design of the bespoke decorative fixtures, we took inspiration from utilitarian brutalist 1970s streetlights building on our intention to create and deliver a decorative language unique to Tate and the Corner bar. In addition, we ensured equal attention was given to the quality of light throughout the space, not just the obvious aesthetic appearance of the light fixtures. This focus deliberately maximises the vibrancy of not just the artwork but also the culinary display, connecting food, drink and art through light”.
Casambi’s contribution to a sustainable and smart setup.
The lighting installation at Corner is controlled using Casambi’s wireless solution. Casambi Bluetooth Units were integrated with the fixtures to enable centralized configuration and control of all lighting from a single platform, the Casambi App. This allowed the team to implement the lighting concept successfully and provide the ability to customize scenes for the venue.
“The Casambi control was paramount to the success of implementing the lighting concept, allowing us to create scenes for daytime and night which set apart the different services at Corner, fulfilling an essential part of the brief. The wide range of control units meant that we could tailor solutions to each specification, based on how we envisioned zoning without impacting on the electrical cabling installation. On that note it made the installation process more streamlined, reducing cabling and ultimately resources, from materials to time regarding commissioning”.
There’s Light at Tate Modern.
A leading London landmark and a popular international destination, There’s Light’s contribution has helped to create a memorable and immersive experience for a diverse range of visitors.
“We took every opportunity to highlight the existing structural details, stitching these elements together with the newly introduced moments from the architects to form a cohesive and immersive experience through the minute layering of lighting layers. An example of this is evident from the placing of micro-adjustable spotlights between the exposed columns, highlighting the steel rivets which are still visible from a time when the structure served as a prominent power station. This is balanced with the careful detailing of integrated lighting to showcase the vast array of products on offer”.
“Our commitment to creating a bespoke, unique space that connects food, art and riverside entertainment has been fulfilled through consistently considered design and tailored decorative lighting. This has resulted in an environment unlike any other that befits the Tate’s status as a beacon for art across the world”.
The lighting design has undoubtedly elevated Corner at Tate Modern into a captivating and inclusive space that effortlessly unites art, culinary delights, and the enchanting charm of riverside evenings. As visitors immerse themselves in the creative interplay of light and art at this new venue, it solidifies Tate Modern’s commitment to democratizing art and providing a communal space for all to cherish. So, if you find yourself wandering along the banks of the Thames, make sure to stop by Corner and let There’s Light illuminate your experience in a way that you won’t soon forget.
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Cafè and bar Corner at the Tate Modern
There’s Light: Fabio Cristini, Darran Prior, Tanvi Gavaskar
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