Friday 15 Apr 2011


"Shining a light on patents and innovations" is written on the European Patent Office website.

This slogan hits the nail on the head: the light metaphor perfectly elucidates the activities and positioning of the European Patent Office (EPO).

Accordingly, the lighting solution created by the light designer Gabriele Allendorf represents the primary design factor for the new administrative complex of the EPO in Munich. In the imposing foyer of the new building, a huge spiral staircase forms the architectural focus. Like a DNA helix from which all evolutionary life originates, it spirals through the upper floors to end visually in the sky. Symbolically, the innovations and patents of the EPO are the building blocks of this DNA helix.

In order to effectively reinforce this statement, light trails in the reflected ceiling dynamically assume the shape of the staircase and the ceiling ellipse. The "invisibility" of the recessed spotlights accords with the EPO company mission to promote international innovation, "awarding and administrating patents while taking a back seat".

Flanking the foyer the floors seem like oversized wooden shelves. The ceilings are illuminated with coved lighting using fluorescent lamps; this accents the rhythmical dimensioning of the room. The gastronomic area reflects formal discretion with minimalist light objects illuminating the lounge.

Inspired by Japanese lighting design, light comes from below instead of conventional lighting from above. The material used for the light objects was adapted from the boat building industry.