Insight | Reflection, Light x Materials

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12/04/2021: The material quality of surfaces and how light interacts with them is always on our minds. We consider a project in its entirety, from its context, through to the detail of materials and finishes to shape the experience of a place. The interaction of light with materials involves its reflection, refraction, diffusion, absorption, transmission, and colour. Drawing on our experience, we use these behaviours of light to manipulate the effect; highlight or conceal, amplify or soften, brighten or leave dark. We do this to help expose the essential spirit of space or a surface; while also worrying about the things one might unintentionally reveal.

Reflection (noun)


the throwing back by a body or surface of light without absorbing it.

A powerful tool, when handled with skill, we use reflection to enhance aspects of our projects and to help us conceal things that we don’t want to see.

With the endless challenge of controlling light, there is always the potential for unwanted revelations and glare; like the accidental reflection of a hidden light on a wet floor.

So much of the city is observed through reflection. In a sense, it is far more real than the buildings themselves, particularly with the glass, aluminium, steel and marble surfaces. It helps to give the feeling of movement and activity and life of the city.”

Brendan Neiland, Artist


HALFLIFE, Kings Cross Tunnel

An experiential installation designed to evolve over time, HALFLIFE explored the idea that even in our quietest moments we are affected by natural but imperceptible cycles of change. In this piece, we used darkness as a core element in the evolution, allowing the wall to reveal a polished reflected image of oneself.

Gasholder Park, London’s King Cross

Inspired by the dynamic light of a solar eclipse, we animated the canopy uprights of the central structure of this pocket park with cross-fading cycles of light. Several mock-ups ensured the surface texture of the leading edge would catch the light in just the right way; the result is a magical immersive experience of shifting shadows and inter-reflections.


Fortnum & Mason, The Royal Exchange, London

Crafting the lit image of the twisted steel canopy centrepiece of this luxury bar/restaurant required a collaborative approach and rigorous testing. We suggested modifications to the canopy profile and texture to create a more consistent reflective effect from multiple viewing angles, turning light inwards to create the impression of a glowing core. Tiny downlights integrated into the glittering canopy structure appear as added sparkle, masking their more functional role in boosting light on the bar.

Armani 5th Avenue, New York

To preserve the transparency and the artistic intention in respect of planning conditions for 5th Avenue, we developed a unique light façade from a series of vertical, mirror-polished bars that ‘dissolve’ into the architecture of the building and become increasingly sparse along the building’s W56th Street Elevation.

There is nothing original, all is reflected light”

Honore de Balzac, French novelist and playwright


Zollverein Kokorei, Essen, Germany

Light tells the story of the important industrial history and future possibilities for this former coking plant in the Ruhr Valley. A crucial element of our design concept, the black reflecting pool was conceived to mirror the elegant structures and intensify the impact without using any extra energy. Casting gentle ripples of light onto the bunker buildings, the reflections create a mesmerising horizon line at the boundary of reality and reflection.

Gateshead Millenium Bridge

Exploiting the mirror-like reflective surface of the river to expose the elegant engineering of the world’s first tipping bridge, we created a powerful and iconic night-image, symbolic of the regeneration of the North East.

100 Liverpool Street, London

The huge scale of the bespoke Chandelier we created for this atrium space is softened by the textured reflective nature of the perforated steel louvres. Gentle inter-reflections produce an ephemeral, cloud-like effect that helps to humanise the space.

Maggie’s Centre, Lanarkshire

Designed to nestle into the site, the long low design of the building presented something of a daylighting design challenge. Our idea to position reflective objects in the central courtyards, bouncing daylight, pattern, shadow and scenery deeper into the building was the genesis of the elegant, highly polished and perforated gold structures we termed the ‘light catchers’.