Stepping into The Aubrey, an eccentric izakaya, one enters a world from a bygone era. The interior design, elaborate and whimsical, is influenced by Japonisme, a term describing Europe’s fascination with Japanese art. Woodblock prints and paintings are aplenty here, as are decorative lamps, hanging ferns and upholstered furniture in hues like sage and claret. This is a fantasy world reminiscent of a lived in Georgian manor and we wanted to preserve this illusion when it came to lighting. The lighting was to be reminiscent of candlelight and tungsten – rich, warm and intimate – and with modern devices discreetly hidden away. A sensitive approach with the layering of many small lighting elements allowed us to achieve the desired look and atmosphere.

Decorative lights are central to the scheme. The large artwork collection is lit by an array of picture lights and wall lamps, fitted with high performance sources. Prior to entering, customers venture down a corridor lined with ukiyo-e prints and impressionist paintings, solely illuminated by picture lights and wall lamps.

We established every fixture’s lighting behaviour with the interior designer. At the Main Bar, bespoke table lamps with half opaque and frosted shades can be swivelled according to customers’ preferences. The technical design of decorative lamps was important, and so was the use of high quality light sources. We sourced locally for 2200K E27 and G9 sources – with CRI 90 and high-power factor of 0.9 – to achieve the design. Concealed lighting in hanging bottle shelves and under the counter complete the lighting environment for the main bar. This results in low ambient and glare-free lighting conditions, allowing full appreciation of Hong Kong’s night view.

Architectural lighting, whenever required, are statement pieces thoughtfully placed or integrated into decorative fixtures, plants and millwork. For instance, at the whiskey bar, bronze spotlights are discreetly tucked into overhanging foliage to highlight the bartender. At the Lounge, spotlights and downlights in high CRI are concealed in crystal pendants such that subtle downlighting can accentuate food and beverages. The use of miniature low-wattage fixtures embodying current LED technology enabled these methods. At the Curio Room, bronze spotlights are given a vintage look by detailing them onto bronze hanging rods. Not only do they serve as beautiful accents, they also come fitted with honeycomb louvers and field changeable optics to allow for precise beam angle calibration when used to light tables, plants and artwork.

Concealed lighting accentuates liquor displays. At the whiskey bar and lockers, backlit liquor shelves in 2400K enhance colours of liquors and provide an intimate setting. We detailed the lighting in wine chillers, ensuring that light sources illuminate labels while remaining discreet. In display cabinets housing ceramics, lacquerware and books, mini downlights are used to apply ‘brushstrokes of light’ to objects.

2400K lighting with CRI 90+ is used for architectural lighting, with a subtle shift to 2200k in decorative lights to evoke the feel of tungsten. The dimming had to be very finely calibrated, for a livelier setting during lunch and more low-key settings at dinner and late night. We achieved this with DALI dimming by a lighting control system. High-quality drivers with power factor above 0.9 allowed us to achieve low dimming when required and smooth transitions between lighting scenes which morph between different service times.

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