Breaking Wave
Monday 07 Jul 2014


Breaking Wave is an innovative lighting installation designed by Paul Nulty Lighting Design which takes centre-stage in John Lewis's new 92,000 sq ft store in York.

Comprised of a series of low-energy fluorescent lamps, Breaking Wave hangs suspended from the soffit to create a lighting showpiece; a trend that is being replicated across retail thanks to its original design and aesthetic. Hanging above the ground floor staircase, the installation uses small modular elements in a dynamic composition which encourages a flow of movement up and down the stairway, drawing customers to the back of the store.

This permeable mass of creatively suspended lamps gives visitors a sense of a breaking wave shape, but manages not to detract from the surroundings. When combined with the luminaire, the lamps allow for 360 degree viewing, ensuring the light sculpture is visible from multiple angles.

Paul Nulty Lighting Design developed this installation using energy efficient Philips Master TL-D Xtreme fluorescent T8 lamps, which are typically found in offices and factories. They maintain 40,000 hours of life and 105 lumens per watt, making it as efficient as its LED equivalent.

PNLD elected to use warm white (3,000 Kelvin) lamp sources to complement the existing architectural lighting across the store, and deliberately designed the lighting on the walls around the staircase to highlight the installation.

"People are drawn to the brightest part of any room and this sculpture is at the rear of the store so it makes the retail space permeable and invites people to venture through the store," said Karen Smart, Lighting Designer at PNLD.

For the design team, the challenge with Breaking Wave was co-ordinating the installation of so many individual suspended elements. They had to meticulously work out the exact x, y and z coordinates for each suspension and their corresponding electrical points; the length of detail the designers went to ensures none of the technical components detract from the illuminated sculpture. They intended to provide visitors with an experience in which they would engage with the sense of shape, without pulling their focus too strongly away from the retail aspects of the store.