James Newton


Gathering Light 04.19

These images are from Fortnum & Mason at The Royal Exchange in the City of London.  Photographed recently for Speirs + Major with a focus on the change in atmosphere from day to night as the bar and seating areas become more intimate and cosy within the centre of what is a very large atrium space.  Talking with the client, I was struck by her description of how the lighting created a strong sense of enclosure whilst sitting at the bar, despite the fact that it was completely open, without either walls or roof.

This came to mind immediately upon reading a quote by the Danish architect Steen Eiler Rasmussen, “a campfire on a dark night forms a cave of light, circumscribed by a wall of darkness. Those who are within the circle of light have a secure feeling of being together in the same room.”  A ‘room’ generated by light alone, going back to the most basic idea of gathering around the campfire at night.

Here we have the same concept, as the bar becomes the fire at the centre creating a point around which to gather and a creating warm sense of enclosure.  This ancient concept which will surely become relevant again as we are required to consider light (energy) as a limited resource, a commodity, to be used sparingly and carefully.