Cre­ative cap­i­tal

HOK and Lasvit Ar­chi­tects have col­lab­o­rated to cre­ate the dy­namic and colour­ful in­te­ri­ors of the Cen­tral Bank of Kuwait.


HOK and Lasvit Ar­chi­tects have col­lab­o­rated to cre­ate the dy­namic and colour­ful in­te­ri­ors of the Cen­tral Bank of Kuwait

A bold, dy­namic force on the sky­line, the 42-storey Cen­tral Bank of Kuwait Head­quar­ters is tes­ta­ment to how con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture is shap­ing the fu­ture of Kuwait City. And af­ter its open­ing this April, guests can fi­nally ex­pe­ri­ence its ex­pan­sive, colour­ful in­te­rior which evokes the spirit of in­no­va­tion be­neath its pro­found ex­te­rior.

Upon ar­rival to the VIP en­trance, visi­tors are im­me­di­ately struck by the Moon chan­de­lier’s 2.4-me­tre blue sphere of hand-blown glass cylin­ders. It’s just one of nine stun­ning be­spoke Lasvit chan­de­liers that frame their ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Banks are where en­trepreneurs come to fi­nance their dreams and vi­sions. For that, they must have their feet on the ground, but their heads in the clouds. For ‘ de­signer me’, sim­ple shapes such as spheres are fas­ci­nat­ing and work as in­fi­nite spa­ces. Light and dark blue el­e­ments met my vi­sion, com­bined with pieces en­hanced with gold me­tal-coat­ing and di­verse sur­face tex­tures,” says Libor Sošťák, who de­signed on be­half of Lasvit.

It also speaks to the sin­gu­lar­ity of Kuwait and the re­gion. “Aside from sea and sand, the sky is the most dom­i­nant el­e­ment in the Kuwait land­scape. The vis­i­ble stars at night are stun­ning, as well as his­tor­i­cally im­por­tant for nav­i­ga­tion across deserts and seas. Metaphor­i­cally speak­ing, banks en­able such dar­ing voyages even to­day,” Sošťák con­tin­ues.

The mag­nif­i­cent 140,000-square me­tre build­ing is home to five pub­lic floors which in­clude a ball­room, au­di­to­rium, café, press room, train­ing rooms and lounges, as well as 32 floors of of­fice space and five VIP floors that fea­ture ex­ec­u­tive of­fices, board­rooms, con­fer­ence suites and VIP lounges.

The ma­te­rial pal­ette is a fu­sion of the old and new and is based around stone and the sculp­tural qual­i­ties it pos­sesses, with solid lac­quers and care­fully se­lected tim­ber ve­neers. By a way of con­trast­ing these hard-neu­tral ma­te­ri­als, they ap­pear ad­ja­cent to light-re­flect­ing crys­tal chan­de­liers, lush rich fab­rics and be­spoke dec­o­ra­tive silk rugs.

Lasvit worked with HOK in­te­rior de­signer Lara Hol­lis (who now owns her own prac­tice) to cre­ate the chan­de­lier. It took nearly two years from the first de­signs to the fi­nal in­stal­la­tion. The man­u­fac­tur­ing process it­self took about four months, the in­stal­la­tion ap­prox­i­mately one month.

“Work­ing with Lasvit was a plea­sure,” she con­tin­ues. “[For the Moon chan­de­lier], the colour blue was se­lected due to the bank’s cor­po­rate iden­tity, and this colour ap­pears in a few of the pub­lic spa­ces, al­low­ing sim­i­lar el­e­ments to link the ar­eas to­gether. The sphere, when lit with grad­u­ally mov­ing LED lights, por­trays a uni­fied in­sti­tu­tion in the ev­er­chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment.”

All the light­ing sculp­tures were de­signed to be in com­plete har­mony with the ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­ri­ors, which also in­cluded fur­nish­ings and ac­ces­sories from Uni­for, Knoll, B& B Italia, Wilkhahn, Her­man Miller, Vi­tra, Ar­per and Pre­ciosa.

“The bank’s head­quar­ters, with its large open spa­ces, called for or­ganic and con­tem­po­rary cen­tre­pieces. We al­ways strive to bring fresh and dar­ing ideas and [to] cre­ate fas­ci­nat­ing, beau­ti­ful ob­jects, un­mis­tak­able for their re­fined shapes, de­sign and mas­tery over each de­tail. In gen­eral, the de­sign may be very sim­ple. The light­ing in­stal­la­tion is a tribute to modern spa­ces,” con­tin­ues Sošťák.

Lasvit faced many chal­lenges. “We like to ex­per­i­ment and push the bound­aries of the tra­di­tional lim­i­ta­tions of glass de­sign and light­ing. The big­gest chal­lenge was to find a way to com­bine all tech­ni­cal as­pects with mul­ti­ple, frag­ile glass el­e­ments. For ex­am­ple, Moon ap­pears as a mas­sive ob­ject, yet the del­i­cately shaped glass cones soften its ef­fect. The goal was to cre­ate a sculp­ture that would rep­re­sent both so­lid­ity and flu­id­ity.”

De­spite the chal­lenges, the in­stal­la­tions pushed the bound­aries of light in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity. “The Moon in­stal­la­tion cre­ates an im­pres­sion of in­fi­nite sur­face, sur­rounded by hand-blown glass cones. Its random tex­ture, along with in­ter­nally pro­grammed LEDs, cre­ates a play of light and colour that en­er­gises the imag­i­na­tion,” says Sošťák.

“Cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy al­lows the con­trol of move­ment, light in­ten­sity, colour schemes and the dim­ming of each par­tic­u­lar LED light source. The seven-me­tre-long Cloud is lo­cated in the pre-func­tion room and re­flects play­fully in the steel plate mount­ing, gleam­ing like rays of sun reach­ing the ground through a cloud.”

This tech­nol­ogy, com­bined with inim­itable crafts­man­ship, cre­ates a lux­u­ri­ant feel. “In this past decade lux­ury has be­come a given, but this does not nec­es­sar­ily mean op­u­lence and gold-gilded ceil­ings – but how tech­nol­ogy has be­come in­te­grated into de­sign”, says Hol­lis.

Lasvit’s fu­ture is just as bright as its spec­tac­u­lar light­ing. Cur­rently, they are work­ing on Edi­tion Ho­tel in Abu Dhabi, as well as fin­ish­ing two in­cred­i­ble in­stal­la­tions fea­tur­ing fac­ing dragons that span 80 me­tres and weigh 40 tonnes. They form the world’s largest crys­tal jewel and by far the largest sculp­ture of its kind, yet built and will be fea­tured at the Im­pe­rial Pa­cific Casino com­plex in Saipan. We can’t wait to be en­light­ened.

Cloud chan­de­lier by Lasvit

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