There is nothing that design and light cannot change or impact when it comes to content. Together they have the power to accentuate, underscore or, thanks to their quality, render a topic such as eroticism as being the most natural thing in the world, to deemotionalise it without alienating it.
When it comes to the shopping experience itself, Fun Factory is literally in a league of its own. This new branch of one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of stylish love toys is located in the centre of Munich. The narrow retail space was something of a challenge for the designers: technically speaking, and with regard to the lighting. Especially since the products on display are not exactly everyday items. The retail space comprises two levels on which the love toys, dessous and lingerie are discreetly and tastefully presented. There are no overloaded shelves, no garish colours and no overdressed mannequins. The atmosphere radiates joie de vivre, sexiness and eroticism – of course – but all presented to achieve a certain stylish elegance!
The lighting comprises basically only LED technology. The overall space is made up of clearly defined zones, each of which has received an appropriate lighting solution: the shelves and counters where the products are displayed, the floor and the ceiling, plus the shop windows with the mannequins on the ground floor. To create an aesthetic setting for the articles exhibited on shelves along the side walls, gimbal-mounted recessed ceiling downlights are focussed on the central section
of the shelving, at customer eye-level. The upper and lower sections of the shelving units are illuminated by light strips integrated into the fronts of the shelves. Light strips – continuous lines of light – are widely applied in the store, and fulfil two purposes: they enable the lighting effect to be applied exactly where it is needed, and because they are so flexible in application they lend themselves to creating decorative effects. This design feature substantially enhances the depth of the retail spaces and encourages shoppers to follow the pattern of lines on their journey of discovery through the space.
Winding, gyrating lines of light are integrated into the flooring, sometimes running parallel, sometimes diverging or separating to reunite later after skirting round pedestals or shop furnishings. The organic forms the lines of light take mimic the shapes of some of the love toys. And the counters in the centre of the shop pick
up on this play of forms. LED lighting is integrated inside the counters, achieving a glow across the front panels and allowing light to seep through from beneath the bases of the counters and generating a sensual atmosphere, from which the centre of the space and the spatial design in general benefit.
LED strips have also been applied to frame the white and gold-looking shop windows. The lighting designers specifically opted to use two different colour temperatures to achieve this look: warm white (2700 Kelvin) and neutral white (4000 Kelvin) LED strips are mounted in the window frames. After dark the lighting is programmed to change dynamically from warm to neutral white to generate an element of movement.
To be honest, the greatest eye-catcher at the Fun Factory in Munich is not so much the scanty underwear and erotic accessories, but rather the reflective surfaces that
give rise to so many fascinating effects. Whether intended or not, the bright bands of light encircling the shelving units are reflected perfectly in the glossy pitch- black ceiling. A similar play of light can be seen in the many reflective gold surfaces which feature throughout the shop, or in the polished fronts to the counters.
The walls on the ground floor that feature a glossy black or silver finish likewise reflect the lines of light in the flooring, or seek other light sources within the store to reiterate and reflect into the space. The reflections are fortunately not harsh, but soft and appropriate to the emotional scenario.
The entire lighting system in the Fun Factory is DALI- controlled. This highly flexible system is incorporated into the building automation system, making this an ideal solution for the modern boutique and the lighting design realised there. Using a computer-controlled installation bus system, different groups of luminaires are switched and regulated, and programmed to adjust automatically to day and night-time modes.
Obviously it is up to the individual to decide whether love toys and related products continue to be tabooed or rejected, or are entitled to become part of private life. In any case, the store concept behind the Fun Factory contributes in a variety of ways to freeing such products and the whole topic of erotic or sexual references from common social taboos. The effort that has been dedicated to achieving a refined and aesthetic lighting design for the space has succeeded in creating an ambience with class and style. Light and form go hand in hand, invisible sensory and visible material ties that are both imaginative and fascinatingly ambiguous, coupled with surface finishes that softly reflect light into the small and narrow space. The colours applied – black, white, gold or silver – definitely form a rich contrast to one another, but attain a level of harmony through light and the choice of luminous colour. And the lines of light – they provide a pattern that interlinks the entire space.