Requiring an impressive 26 cubic meters of space just to hang and weighing at over a tonne, willowlamp’s new custom chandelier will certainly be a conversation-starter! Making its way from Cape Town, South Africa across the Atlantic, to its final destination in North Carolina, USA, willowlamp was commissioned to create this unique statement piece for the new high-end Marriott Hotel currently being completed in Charlotte.
Thanks to the chandelier’s girth alone – and never mind its spectacular beauty – the one-off behemoth is sure to be a talking point when this leading hospitality destination is completed. The 21-storey, 381-room flagship hotel is expected to open in 2021. The JW Marriott, which is being built on the corner of Stonewall and College streets, is Charlotte’s first Marriott hotel in this luxury tier.
willowlamp’s award-winning founder and Creative Director Adam Hoets was commissioned by Fabiola Troncoso, an Associate at Chicago’s Simeone Deary Design Group, on behalf of Marriott International. The Simone Dreary Group has worked with willowlamp previously, and in 2014, commissioned willowlamp Flower of Life chandeliers for the Hotel Allegro in Chicago.
The firm contacted Hoets in 2018 to work on the JW Marriot project. He then conceptualised and submitted two proposals. Speaking of the final direction that Simeone Deary Design Group selected, he states: “The piece is based on the original version of our very first Mandala design, which we did for Liwa Suites in the UAE, which was commissioned by Jan Lewis of Design Union.”
However, the willowlamp for Charlotte’s JW Marriott has several challenging and impressive features that distinguish it. Like all willowlamps – including its forebear, the Mandala – it is composed of cascading tiers of metallic ball chain. But this piece is not circular like its Mandala predecessor. Instead, it is a long, narrow ellipse shape. “Sort of a “squashed” Mandala!” Hoets quips irreverently.
The vertical flattening created an all-new design challenge for Hoets, making it far more tricky to model and prototype than the original Mandala. “It is not simply a matter of rotating the same shapes to form a circular pattern,” he says.
This makes the design far more complex and technical to achieve. For example, “the chain lengths cannot just be repeated shapes, they have to all be worked out to fit the stretched proportions, which is much more difficult.” To further complicate matters, the chandelier has upper and lower tiers of chain and was almost too big to manufacture on willowlamp’s premises!
What’s more, due to the extreme size and weight, some design innovations were needed to bring the Marriot design to life. Firstly, the extruded shapes made up of chain curtains had to be broken up into separate panels. Each panel was then individually mounted to a ceiling frame and fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. Hoets was forced to approach the design in this manner because “it is the only way to install a piece such as this because the combined weight is one tonne!”
Once installed, the piece will be illuminated by no more than 31 LED lamps. These hang on suspended cables that are hidden within each of the extruded geometrical chain curtain shapes.
It’s a shining example – pun intended – of what happens when technical triumphs combine with exquisite form. It is sure to lend a sophisticated verve to Charlotte’s soon-to-be-launched JW Marriott. Check it out when you check-in!