Cooper Lighting’s 35th Annual SOURCE Awards: Mikimoto

Mikimoto’s new Las Vegas store plumbs the depths of design.

SOURCE Award Winner Mikimoto, Las Vegas, Nevada

The nature of how pearls are created and the watery sea beds where they are found served as the design impetus behind the 118-year-old cultured pearl provider Mikimoto’s latest store at Crystals™ in CityCenter, Las Vegas.

Indeed, the theme “Deep Blue Sea” has been the inspiration for the design of other existing Mikimoto stores and will be the concept going forward for future locations. Reflecting the elegance of Mikimoto against the backdrop of the dramatic design of the Crystals™ shopping environment at CityCenter, the Deep Blue Sea motif honors beauty and harmony – the cornerstones of Japanese culture and the Mikimoto brand – as well as pays homage to the ocean.

“The ‘Deep Blue Sea’ design, along with the material choices, lighting, and store layout, showcases the elegance and sophistication of the Mikimoto brand,” explains Mitsuhiro Mitsui, CEO of Mikimoto America.

Mikimoto selected Gensler, the Las Vegas-based executive architect on CityCenter, to serve as the architect of record. Focus Lighting in New York City handled the lighting, for which they received the top award in the Professional Commercial category in Cooper Lighting’s 35th annual SOURCE Awards. Entries are judged on the blend of aesthetics, creative achievement, technical performance, and the degree in which the lighting met the project constraints and design concept goals.

When visitors first approach Mikimoto’s Deep Blue Sea concept, they notice a 16’-high glass aquarium-like storefront shrouded in the elegant darkness of ebony-colored stone. A floating glass display stands called “mermaid torsos” showcases Mikimoto pearls in front of the soft, blue-lighted silk drapery representing the sea – this installation marks the first time this material has been used in any Mikimoto store.

Inside the 1,870-sq.-ft. space, nearly 300 mother-of-pearl chandeliers hang from the ceiling in a style designed to evoke the image of stars falling into the ocean. The backdrop of the store is a natural-colored Travertino Romano travertine that reflects light similar to a Japanese coral reef. The private viewing room resembles a Japanese lantern and is illuminated in a corner of the store.

Mikimoto strictly adhered to the sustainable efforts required by CityCenter and its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification. Therefore, unused construction materials were recycled and sorted off-site and all paints and glues used on-site met the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) limits established by CityCenter. Moreover, the store’s metal studs have recycled content, all showroom carpet is 80 percent wool (a rapidly renewable material), plus the translucent glass storefront maximizes natural light during the day.

Since lighting is integral to the display of Mikimoto jewelry, one of the biggest challenges was to create an environmentally sound lighting system that maximizes the beauty of the jewelry as well as meet the energy consumption requirements of CityCenter.

Extensive studies and mock-ups of the lighting were conducted jointly by Focus Lighting and Gensler to test the different types of light color, temperatures, intensities, and energy consumption. LED and metal halide lighting were selected as these technologies best evoked the desired sparkle from the jewelry as well as meets the low energy consumption goals.

In fact, the Las Vegas store also heralded a new energy-efficient direction in lighting design for the company. The sheer silver curtains at the storefront are uplit with energy-efficient color-shifting lighting fixtures programmed for special promotions or holiday sales.

One of the key challenges was the decision to use metal halide lamps. Mikimoto had never used metal halides in their stores, but the strict energy code dictated by this LEED building ruled out the option for the halogen lamps the retailer normally employs. Special attention was given to properly illuminating the pearls (which needs a different strategy than gemstones) while maintaining the clean look of the cases. The evaluation helped define the correct fixture outputs and beam spreads to best showcase the merchandise.

“When creating this new boutique, it was important that we used renewable materials and environmentally responsible technology. Mikimoto is committed to protecting the environment, especially since we rely so heavily on nature to produce our beautiful pearls year after year,”Mitsui adds.

The Focus Lighting design team was comprised of: Paul Gregory, principal designer; lighting designers Juan Pablo Lira and Michael Cummings; assistant lighting designers Stephanie Daigle and Levia Lew; and Dan Nichols, project manager. The team specified RSA metal halide recessed downlights and io linear LED fixtures.

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