Soraa lights up Japan’s Conrad Osaka

OSAKA, JAPAN—To some guests of the Conrad Osaka, situated on the 33rd to 40th floors of the Nakanoshima Festival Complex here, the draw is the views of the downtown cityscape. But to others, it is the impressive collection of artwork throughout the hotel that can be seen as an extension of the National Museum of Art floors below.

Lighting these art pieces, as well as the guestrooms and public spaces throughout the hotel, was such an integral part of the design that interior designers Yukio Hashimoto and Nikken Space Design turned to Tokyo-based lighting design firm Worktecht to “create a space that seamlessly merges art and design through light.”

To accomplish that task, Worktecht used lighting products by Fremont, CA-based Soraa. “The interior design of the Conrad Osaka allows guests to feel like they’re staying in a contemporary art museum,” said Atsushi Kaneda, Worktecht founder and lighting designer. “To make sure we highlight the artwork perfectly, Soraa lamps were just the best choice for our design.”

Charles Selander, director of specification sales for Soraa, described his company’s offerings as “GaN-on-GaN [gallium-nitride on gallium-nitride] LEDs, a technically superior chip that allows extremely crisp, focused beams; a violet primary emission that renders white colors with near natural sunlight accuracy; and robust phosphors that yield rich, full-spectrum colors, on through the deep red end of the visual spectrum.”

He further explained why LEDs are the right choice for hotels. “LEDs in general boast no UV [ultraviolet] content, and minimal heat—or IR [infrared] at the other extreme of the electromagnetic spectrum,” he said. “This second point translates to dramatic energy savings, and since LED products can last 35,000 hours or more—even 100,000-plus in some outdoor and industrial LED products—there is much less maintenance cost associated. Where LED has fallen short has been on color quality, which is why Soraa is obsessively focused on realizing the best quality of light—not just raw energy savings.”

Kaneda noted that lighting was essential to bring forth the interior design concept of “The Address to the Sky.”

“The elements of water, sky, fire and star became the theme of each area,” he said. “We were inspired by these elements and started to think about how lighting could bring the corresponding special atmosphere and perception to immerse people in. In order to create the sky-like lighting environment, we incorporated fixtures carefully to illuminate objects and eliminate some shadows, aiming to generate a sense of floating. For example, the uplights around the artwork at the entrance render the crystal beads from the bottom to the top, and exhibit them in a way that makes them seem weightless.”

Soraa’s signature Snap System of interchangeable filters that enable its LED lamps to produce myriad color temperatures were used throughout the property, noted Selander, who provided some of the products that were used in the project. Soraa Vivid E11 MR16 lamps were used in ceiling downlights in all guestrooms and suites; guestroom hallways; all of the down and upper lights in public hallways; ceiling spotlights in the main restaurant; and the bathroom of the Royal suite. Soraa Vivid PAR 30L lamps were used in the banquet hall and foyers.

He further pointed out why varying products are used in different areas of a hotel. “Products will differentiate from the decor, and lighting quality requirements will vary depending on the budget,” he said. “Lighting designers will get a designer’s drawing and they will do their best to interpret the features/functions of the drawing. By using light, they will showcase important areas, such as the foyer, which every guest will see, and then the F&B area where every guest will have a meal. Most important is the guestroom. If it comes down to dollars and cents, lighting products with high-quality light output will go in the guestroom first, and then the F&B area will be second. Then, the rest of the public spaces such as corridors, back-of-house and outdoor landscaping will use lighting products of standard quality, but not such a high cost, to ensure safety and maintenance standards are met. This is very subjective as the budget will dictate the selection of lighting products.”

Once the optimal lighting design is achieved, Kaneda explained how it can alter how guests can perceive the environment around them, both consciously and unconsciously.

“If a delicate art piece is illuminated in the proper way, the focal light reveals its material and texture so that viewers will feel surprised and moved by the authenticity of the aesthetic,” he said. “For the ambient lighting, when the light smoothly and subtly changes, following the time shift and seasons passing, our natural instinct is to respond to the light and deeply feel it.”

Besides the Conrad Osaka, Soraa has provided lighting products to a number of hotels worldwide, including the Park Hyatt Bangkok; 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge and The Empire Hotel in New York; the Shinola Hotel in Detroit; and the Westin Perth in Australia, which is expected to open later this month.

The lighting company is constantly working on new products, noted Selander. “We recently expanded our lamp offerings with the Arc Series, a range of directional luminaires that double the light output; increase the lifetime light output and warranty; and offer improved dimming,” he said. “We also have warm-dim MR16 lamps that replicate a halogen dimming curve as they dim. This technology will also be used on a broader range of our lamps and fixtures.”

He continued, “We also have a suite of health-focused products, including fully dynamic LED sources, which mimic the sun crossing the sky for improved circadian health, as well as static, ZeroBlue sources. This is a relatively low cost, easy-to-implement way to impact circadian-health focused lighting, which could be an excellent guestroom improvement to mid-tier hotels geared toward jet-lagged, weary business travelers. HB