Mama Shelter London

When designing hotel lighting, such as the Mama shelter in London, our team will always look at ways in which we can enhance the guest experience. So, when we were approached to work on a method where we could subtly link the guest rooms to the public spaces, we immediately embraced the challenge. We would need to cleverly combine ambient and task lighting throughout every public area. However, this must help to create a bold design statement, feel harmonious and still look aesthetically pleasing. In addition, the lighting would need to be highly practical, too.


Photography: Agathe Gaboriau

Background on the hotel

The Mama Shelter is located in East London and has only recently opened its doors to adventurous city-breakers. This hotel may be suitable for those with tight budgets. But what sets it apart is the vibrancy of the interior design. So, this is a far cry from the typically bland budget hotel stays, which have become prevalent across London.

We soon discovered that the lighting design at the Mama Shelter would need to accentuate the feeling of a hip and trendy, urban environment. After all, the quirky interior is jam-packed with a whole host of colour and pattern clashes. So there’s plenty to draw the eye, from the main lobby to each individual guest room. However, the lighting would need to complement the striking design. It would also need to work hard across every platform to meet the needs of a busy London hotel.


Photography: Agathe Gaboriau

The ground floor

The ground floor at the Mama Shelter consists of an explosion of colours and patterns. Add mis-matched furniture and this instantly helps to create a more eclectic scene. So, firstly we looked at how we could add lighting solutions to enhance this deliberate design element further.


Photography: Agathe Gaboriau

Lighting the restaurant

The restaurant, for example, features a chalkboard ceiling in black, which has been covered with bold graffiti. As a team, we knew that highlighting this striking aspect would prove key. We therefore introduced down lights in matching black, which we recessed in the ceiling. As a result, we could present a clean finish. However, we would need to consider how to bring the graffiti to life at night. This way, we could create an overhead feature in its own right. Spotlights provided the perfect solution. In fact, we placed black framed versions along column shelving to further add to the visual impact. The introduction of a collection of fun and funky floor and table lamps is enabled us to avoid luminaire congestion on the ceiling.


Photography: Agathe Gaboriau

The bar area

In certain sections of the bar area, a collection of vintage-style lampshades are added to a cluster of pendant lighting to create a more retro vibe. This would therefore complement the overall design style which Parisian designers Dion and Arles have carefully curated in this hotel. We also added a selection of oversized shades to pendant lights to illuminate the bar area for a fully functional area, which looks stylish, too.


Photography: Agathe Gaboriau

The karaoke rooms

Two Japanese-style karaoke rooms add to the fun element throughout Mama Shelter hotel. Step inside and the soft furnishings from the carpet to the cushions, are bright and bold with a fabulous air of kitsch. However, these areas have been designed to cater for meetings, if necessary, which meant that the lighting here would be crucial. Inverse therefore created RGB addressable linear diffuse luminaires. However, we placed these within the gaps of the acoustic panels in the ceiling. This way, we could provide adequate lighting for meetings which could transform to become fun lighting, making this perfect for karaoke. So at night, these rooms provide the perfect place with colourful lighting in which to sing along to your heart’s content with friends before moving on to your rooms to sleep.

Karaoke rooms

Photography: Agathe Gaboriau

The lobby

We used simple LED lamps in the lobby and the two main meeting rooms. However, we chose a smart tubular design to ensure the task lighting would be directional. In the lobby, we were set with the task to introduce a homely feel to what is otherwise essentially an industrial-style environment. We found we could achieve perfect results, if we featured soft, indirect lighting along the four walls with surface-mounted adjustable down lights to create accent lighting. This helped to add to the decorative fixtures in this area, from the fun arcade games to the comfy sofa.

The meeting rooms

The main meeting rooms would require a functional lighting concept with an element of fun, too. Therefore, we illuminated strategic areas in a diagonal fashion using the tubular LED lamps we have featured in the lobby. This provided a more cohesive feel to the overall design in these areas with both fun and functional elements mixed in.

The French Hotel Group Mama Shelter has now been open since September. Our expert architectural lighting team has produced hotel lighting, which has superseded all expectations and successfully helped to create a fun, vibrant atmosphere. As a result, guests can enjoy a relaxing, upbeat environment in which to unwind in. So, they can take their pick from the trendy cocktail bar, restaurant, lobby, meetings rooms and karaoke stations, which are beautifully lit. Or they can simply retreat to the comfort of their room.

Hong Kong Cultural Centre: redesign of the iconic chandelier

We reveal how our expert architectural lighting team has breathed new life into an old public space with dynamic, interactive lighting from a bespoke chandelier.

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Lobby Chandelier

Copyright:Kartic Studio

Hong Kong Cultural Centre is a key venue for arts and performance. This is where the city stages every cultural activity, from exhibitions to opera and theatre. In fact, since its inception in 1989, the centre’s grand scale and harbour front location welcomes 600,000 visitors annually. However, the centre recently underwent a major renovation. As a result, these works would form part of the Hong Kong urban renovation programme to become a ‘lovable city’. So, this meant the centre was able to expand its indoor public spaces. They could also transform the main lobby into a delightful, multi-functional space for everyone. Today, the results from the rejuvenation are clear to see. Hong Kong Cultural Centre has incorporated compact and functional installations into this space. As a result, these have replaced scattered and cluttered elements, which had accumulated in the foyer over the years.

The Brief

Inverse Lighting Design (Hong Kong) was invited to play an intrinsic part in the rejuvenation with the chandelier redesign. This is how we got the chance to work closely with Ida & Billy Architects, to reimagine the bespoke centrepiece chandelier in the foyer. The existing chandelier was iconic and custom-made – in fact, this design reflected a glorious bygone style. Therefore, part of our brief was to update this striking lighting design without neglecting its important past.

The original chandelier at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre formed a cluster of intertwined, aluminium-shaped leaves. These had then been suspended from a 10m high ceiling with integral 250W halogen light sources. However, this was proving difficult to maintain and it wasn’t energy efficient, either. So, budget constraints and existing conditions demanded a simple, yet functional, solution.

Combining old and new

Our design team’s inspiration came from the juxtaposition of the old and new. In fact, our proposal would also conform to Ida & Billy Architects strategy. This was to ensure we would enhance the centre with an essence of contemporary. However, we would also pay the utmost respect to the original design and existing building. So, we carried out various experiments in order to combine the existing materials with a new lighting concept. We also tested different light sources and positions in order to breathe new life into an old public space.


mock-up of chandelier elements with lighting

Testing chandelier material with light


Chandelier mock-up visuals

Mock-up visulas for each light source option


We decided to use single addressable LED strips which we fixed to hammered aluminium leaves. As a result, we found this would provide the most desirable lighting effect.

chandelier relighting details

Lighting Details-top and side view


Our expert team then collaborated with the architects to find a local manufacturer, which would produce customised LED strip lighting in a slim profile. Following this, we selected and assigned the original aluminium leaves differently with a smooth polished finish for the LED lighting and a hammered finish for daylight. We then paired up the leaves and suspended them from adjustable stainless steel cables to create a neat finish.

Obstacles to overcome

However, we discovered there were limitations in the chandelier design. In fact, these would require our team to utilise the existing mounting position at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. This was for structural reasons as the new fixture designs would be determined by weight limits. Therefore, we carefully weighed and distributed every fixture, which proved a painstaking, yet vital, process. Meanwhile, we remotely tucked the LED driver and power supplies away in the roof. This way, we could hide these aspects from view to create a more seamless finish. The architects then rearranged the elements into three smaller clusters, which they strategically placed in the foyer. As a result, this would successfully redefine the space and the lighting design clusters would become visual landmarks.

The finer details

Our expert team integrated new LED light sources into the fixtures and the architects rearranged each unit. Strategic positioning of the chandelier would result in a perception of different shapes when viewed from varying angles. Integrated addressable LED lighting also enhances this smart geometry within the fixture. In addition, each unit produces dynamic, yet subtle, illumination that can synchronise to music for a more dramatic effect. So, when the chandelier lights up, the physical elements and musical performance become one entity.

Hong Kong Cultural Centre chandelier clusters

Night time view; Copyright:Kartic Studio

Within the cluster, each commercial lighting element moves gently and swivels in midair revealing its many dimensions. The metallic materiality contrast with the warm tile finishes of the interior. This combination exudes contemporary aesthetics while blending in elegantly with the historic elements. During the day, natural light shines through the glazed roof space. Then, this light floods onto the chandelier pieces, reflecting and scattering ever-changing unique patterns on the floor, which automatically invigorates the space.

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Chandelier daytime view

Day time effect, Copyright:Inverse Lighting Design

Project length

This chandelier redesign took less than a year from start and finish, which is considered fast track for such a challenge. However, the local lighting manufacturer put in a great deal of effort and support to complete the project in time for the inauguration. Since its rejuvenation, the centre has become a versatile platform for all future artistic collaboration programmes.

Despite the significant changes we made to the design, the centre was still able to remain open every day. Therefore, we were able to create minimum disruption to this facility throughout the process. We also needed to adhere to maximum noise limits to ensure the rehearsals and performances would not be disturbed.

The completion

The rejuvenation programme was completed in September 2017. So, the public could, for the first time, revisit an inspiring and inclusive centre to celebrate a new design chapter. There is no doubt that the centre has truly become ‘the people’s place’. In fact, the foyer is now filled with an interplay of beautiful music and dynamic lighting. As a result, this interactive display has produced a truly unforgettable experience for every visitor.

At Inverse, we specialise in state-of-the-art lighting solutions for our projects. Our expertise enables us to produce statement lighting regardless of existing architectural and design limitations. From the initial vision, we endeavour to carry out comprehensive planning and testing to deliver outstanding results for every project. So, read our blog to discover how we produced a clever combination of striking interior and exterior lighting at Five Palm Jumeirah for a further demonstration of the spectacular Inverse Lighting Design can achieve.


FIVE Palm Jumeirah: Lighting the jewel in a glass box

FIVE Palm Jumeirah is a visionary beachfront resort, which blends an essence of California cool with Dubai spectacle. With 477 rooms and suites across 16 floors, this luxury hotel features a striking amphitheatre design. In addition, a signature central glass cube and 60 metre vanishing pool add to this distinctive concept. In fact, the hotel houses ten restaurants and nightlife settings, spa, beach pool, kids club and health and wellness areas. We designed internal and external architectural lighting at this resort, which has created a magnificent landmark in Dubai.

Five Palm Jumeirah external lighting

Copyright:FIVE Real Estate Development

The iconic entrance & glass cube

Unlike any other hotel lobby, the FIVE Palm Jumeirah has been designed with a show-stopping iconic entrance. This area has been specifically designed to welcome guests to the spiritual heart of the building. So, it creates a transcendental experience for guests who can experience striking views across the swimming pool, Dubai Marina skyline and oceanic horizons. However, the most striking design element of the project is the glass cube. This area sits at the hotel’s centre, housing an intricate wooden creation, which has been inspired by the Islamic pointed arch and the structure of DNA.

Our brief

Inverse were commissioned to design interior and exterior lighting, which would complement the state-of-the art architecture and interior. The interior concept visuals, in some ways, reflected the essence of the challenge we were faced with. We would need to consider how to illuminate the sculpture to show its three-dimensional qualities. However, could we find a way to do this without exposing the light sources? After all, the sculpture’s innovative design meant that luminaires could not attach to any surface.

Yabu Pushelberg sculpture concept

Copyright: YabuPushelberg

Ideas to consider

Initially, we considered several ideas;
uplighting sculpture columns from the base,

initial lighting concept 1

in-fill lighting concealed within the sculpture,

initial lighting concept 2

lights between the perimeter fins.

initial lighting concept 3

Obstacles to overcome

The omission of the perimeter fins and the complications in concealing lights in the laminated wood structure forced us to discount some ideas. Also, having lights at high level on the structure would have drawn more attention to specific parts of the sculpture. As a result, this would make the structure look more fragmented. However, we wanted to achieve a perception of the iconic sculpture rising from the ground. So, we came up with an innovative solution. We would instead install the luminaires at the bottom of the columns, which would add more depth to the design. However, we would also add in-fill and accent lighting in order to define additional positions on the floor.


Starting the process

In-house, we set up scaled down mock-ups to verify the intended effects.

Lighting mockups

Initially, we set up an arrangement to allow up-lights for every face of the column structure.

detail initial uplighting detail


Then, during the trials, it appeared that positioning the up-lights at the corners of the columns created a more interesting effect. This actually complemented the three-dimensional features of the sculpture and reduced glare by minimising the view to the luminaires.

executed uplighting detail



mockup visual column uplights

We also located additional luminaires at the corners of the sculpture to provide in-fill lighting.

mockup visual in-fill lighting


Then, linear lights concealed to the perimeter of the glass cube provided an overall brightness around the sculpture.

mockup visual linear lights

Stage by stage

After several mock-ups and trials, we took a deliberate decision to illuminate the sculpture with light sources that are below the floor. After all, this would create an effective three-dimensional view of the stunning structure. The result is a beautifully-lit, dramatic object, which has become a centre piece at this luxury hotel.

This section of the sculpture demonstrates one of the strategic lighting effects we achieved; Copyright: FIVE Real Estate Development

It was absolutely critical that we maintained an adequate contract between the sculpture and the exterior landscape so that the glass cube became the main focal point of the whole façade.

Exterior lighting solutions

Our team of architectural lighting designers designed the exterior lighting to be subtle and complement the architecture and landscape. This way, it would please the eye without compromising on the required brightness on the ground. We also added up-lights to the trees along the pool to create a seamless flow. Our team delineated the pool with concealed linear LED light sources on the perimeter, in addition to a minimal number of pool lights. Then, we designed low level skirting lighting to frame the planters to add to the striking effect.

We have concealed the linear light sources on the perimeter of the arch, framing the building with a beautiful glow.


exterior landscape lighting concept, render, actual

From this initial concept sketch, (Left) we produced CGI rendering (Middle), which led to the final, striking result (Right)

Designed by YabuPushelberg, the hotel interiors feature a calming palette of neutral colours working in harmony alongside teal and brushed bronze finishes. Our lighting scheme induces pleasant emotions, creates styles and functions as necessary for visual tasks. Meanwhile, the moody night time scenes create a contrasting atmosphere for guests and residents to enjoy a panorama of breath-taking views.

The results

Our work with FIVE Palm Jumeirah has helped to create a unique experience for the hotel and its residents. After all, we have played an intrinsic part in the architectural lighting for the interior and exterior at this luxury resort. The spectacular results, we have achieved at this particular destination, further demonstrate how we solve unique project demands with precision and panache.

In conclusion

Now we have enhanced the wooden sculpture in the hotel lobby with an innovative architectural lighting system beyond all expectations. Furthermore, our exterior lighting is subtle and elegant in order to add to the appealing aesthetic and draw the eye towards the iconic glass cube and sculpture. In fact, this demonstrates how our architectural lighting design team works so closely on every detail. We always take pride in delivering an incredible service from our comprehensive planning and innovative ideas to thorough testing and creating architectural lighting solutions.

Our team was responsible for the state-of-the-art, exterior lighting on the façade of the Siam Discovery shopping centre in Bangkok and you can read all about it by clicking here.

Cube view with exterior lighting

Copyright: FIVE Real Estate Development

Innovative exterior lighting design at Siam Discovery

In the field of architectural lighting design, we can produce state-of-the-art, exterior lighting solutions for our clients. In fact, when we transformed the facade of the Siam Discovery shopping centre, in Bangkok, we faced a series of challenges.

Siam Discovery Bangkok Façade Exterior Lighting, Copyright art4d magazine-Ketsiree Wongwan

The renovation

Siam Discovery is a six-storey building on Bangkok’s Rama 1 Thoroughfare owned by retail and development company Siam Piwat. They chose to work with Nendo, the prolific Japanese design studio and architect. Nendo has completely remodelled the 40,000 m² mall interior with a number of notable features. For example, visitors now experience a huge display inside with around 200 video monitors, digital signage and merchandise. However, they have also undertaken extensive work on the facade to create a transparent envelope to create a visual link between outside and in.

The brief

At the time, Nendo delivered an intriguing brief. This was to design an intricate exterior lighting solution, which would appear to be hidden from view during the day. However, at night, we would transform the building into a mesmerising light display. This way, passers-by would be drawn to all the activity in the interior in the daytime via the outer glazing layer, featuring white graphics and the transparent portion of the facade. Then, at nighttime, they would experience a visual treat showcasing dynamic exterior lighting. Essentially, this lighting solution would alter the character of the facade from every angle. It would also conteract extreme heat, which is renowned in this tropical climate.

Exterior Façade Lighting visual by Inverse

Visualising the design

Our first challenge would be to create a way in which to showcase our ideas to the client, Siam Piwat, and architect Nendo. We knew we needed to present an element of the facade in a visual format. This way, our client would be able to understand the thought process behind our exterior lighting design. However, Inverse Lighting Design could also see how each intricate element would work together and even highlight any limitations in our plan.


Essential elements to consider

Siam Discovery’s facade design consists of intricate patterns of clear glazing, which feature several variations. As a result, this creates altering views so one area may have clear glazing alone whereas another section will showcase clear glazing, white sticker, frame and solid backdrop. Other variables include clear glazing with white sticker and clear glazing with white sticker and frame, across the facade. We would also need to consider how the view would alter in line with various viewing positions. So, we would be looking at all these aspects in order to produce a fully-functional, innovative exterior lighting design.

Façade Skin Layers

Testing variables

Our team decided to produce a 1:30 model in order to simulate each variable in our studio. This way, we could test various viewing positions of 10 m, 25m and 50m, from different locations with reference to the building position. In this study, we considered daytime appearance, night time appearance without interior lighting and the view at night with interior lighting. We needed to discover how much brightness contrast we would need to make the frames visible or less visible. Also, which colour temperature would we need to use in order to contrast with the interior? In addition, we would consider the impact from various viewing angles and whether we would be able to get the dynamic quality desired.

How we tested these

So, we measured just how bright the frame, sticker, interior and solid wall were. Then, we could learn how much contrast we would require to meet every eventuality. And also, we could find out on which part of the facade we could use these variations. So, we presented the model and our findings to the client.

Precise measurements

Our first experiment using this model enabled us to define the minimum contrast threshold and colour. So, we could choose the right levels then combine these with the viewing angle to create the desired effect. We then created a 1:1 scale version of the design, which we could study in our studio, to refine our concept. As a result, we could work with our client on choosing colours and defining the minimum contrast required. We could also experience the dynamic 3-D effect we wanted to create on the facade. Therefore, we designed a final 1:1 model, where the study was carried out on site. In fact, we could observe all our findings from every study in the actual building. So, this would enable us to design and create a truly effective architectural lighting plan.

Sequence lighting

For special events, we internally illuminated selected frames to allow for the building to produce a more dynamic appearance. We introduced an addressable control system and colour for each of these frames. Therefore, various sequences can be pre-programmed in-line with themes for a particular occasion.

Now, the facade of Siam Discovery creates a spectacular display along the Bangkok skyline where passers-by can experience this incredible pattern of exterior lighting every evening, when the sun goes down. This is just one example of the intricate attention to detail we pay and in-depth studies we produce for every client. This way, we can ensure every project we work on is bespoke so we can meet every lighting expectation.

If you’d like to see more of our luxury exterior lighting projects, simply click the link here.