Under the helm of founder and creative director Adam Hoets, South African bespoke lighting design company Willowlamp, commissioned by talented project designers, the Rockwell Group, has created two monumental theatrical lighting installations for Cathédrale, the latest Las Vegas restaurant from the award-winning hospitality group Tao that opened on 1 May 2023.
At this second iteration of the Cathédrale franchise — the flagship restaurant is based in East Village, New York — Willowlamp was tasked with interpreting and reimagining the design intent of the original restaurant for the newest addition’s ceiling. One particular feature of the original design that served as a point of reference for Hoets was the wire-mesh ceiling installation created by Italian artist Eduardo Tresoldi.
The initial inspiration behind the flagship restaurant was the Fillmore East, a Yiddish theatre built in the 1920s which then became a concert hall dubbed ‘the Church of Rock and Roll’ that hosted acts like Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. With such a historically-rich inspiration, the flagship restaurant’s interior design conveys themes of theatre, glamour, church and rock.
This idea of a theatrical rock venue inside a glamorous church was another of the driving themes that informed Hoets’s design: ‘Because of the strong architectural references, in particular the forms within a cathedral, I set about studying the geometries, references and motifs used in the design of cathedrals,’ he explains. ‘I then extracted and developed the perfect architectonic language and framework for the project. This is why you feel as though you are immersed within an abstract construct of a cathedral.’
The dramatic and theatrical installation wows visitors on entry into the restaurant’s dining room, where the first of the two beaded chain canopies hangs. It is made of 40 kilometres of chain and weighs almost 3 000 kilograms. The second installation, which hovers above the bar, features 22 000 chains.
While pieces like this would normally take up to two years from planning to completion, the Willowlamp team managed to accomplish the massive task in only eight months. The two mammoth installations are a testament to Hoets’s architectural background, which enabled the multifaceted designer to execute the creation of structures that rival the glorious cathedrals that informed them. They have ‘a powerful presence that [is] transportive through [their] magical realism’, says Hoets.
The installations in Cathédrale are one of Willowlamp’s many once-off creations that decorate residential and hospitality spaces across the globe.