BROOKLYN, NY – Christmas is almost certainly not the first thing that comes to mind for the large number of people who are enjoying summer evenings on the elegantly appointed deck of Howard Beach’s Vetro Restaurant and Lounge. Yet it was an unexpected Yuletide meeting that resulted in the rich, warm and continuously changing lighting display that washes this rooftop area and is as much a part of its captivating charm as its warm ocean breezes and stunning seaside vistas.
Created with a collection of LED fixtures from CHAUVET Professional and CHAUVET Professional’s sister company ILUMINARC, Vetro’s lighting design can be traced back to December 2014, when John (Gonzo) Gonzalez, lighting director of MSNBC’s Morning Joe Show, attended the Christmas celebration at Brooklyn’s Saint Joseph’s Co-Cathedral. It was there he met Steven Retas, who was lighting the church’s façade with holiday-themed colors and gobos. The two men struck up a friendship and Gonzalez showed Retas the work that he and Leon Saddler of LightTech had done illuminating the interior of the 103-year-old church, a stunning design achievement that earned them international attention.
Duly impressed, Retas asked Gonzalez if LightTech could help him create a signature look for the newly designed rooftop deck at Vetro. The award-winning (International Five Star Diamond) restaurant was looking for something that would give its deck lounge a distinctive and memorable look. Working with programmer Jason Ayala, LightTech was able to help Retas achieve this vision at Vetro in breathtaking fashion.
“Steven asked Gonzo to use his design talent to create the mood for a completely different club-like venue here,” said Saddler. “We used state-of-the-art lighting effects to unite different elements in the room and create a light space that harmonized with the beautiful surroundings.”
LightTech positioned 23 of Iluminarc’s Ilumiline 36 IP linear LED architectural wash lights around the deck. An additional 20 of the Ilumiline fixtures were used to illuminate the cabana drapes on the seaside deck. Measuring 38.6” long by 2.7” wide by 4” deep, the IP67-rated RGB fixtures fit well even in the tight space to ensure widespread coverage of the area.
“The Ilumilines gave us a lot of flexibility,” said Gonzalez. “We didn’t have to compromise our plans because of tight configurations. Plus the color rendering is excellent. The perimeter fixtures are used as wall washers and they really colorize the room beautifully. The other fixtures are used to light the sheer curtains wrapping the cabanas, which creates an elegant touch.”
Additionally, a pair of Ilumiline 21g2 IP fixtures were positioned to be used as downlights at the entrance columns to Vetro. The LightTech team also positioned two Ovation F-95WW Fresnel fixtures over the DJ booth on the Vetro deck to provide soft, flat warm white light for the performer. “The Fresnels allow us to illuminate the performers in a flattering way without detracting from the overall ambience created by the architectural lighting,” said Saddler.
To give their richly textured lighting display an added dimension, the LightTech team called on the services of Ayala, a well-known club LD and programmer in the New York area. Ayala created a flexible program that could change with the mood of the evening and was equally well-suited for used by a seasoned DJ or an inexperienced bar staff member.
“The programming is intended to flow with the evening,” said Ayala. “We have the lighting preprogrammed so it starts of low-keyed for the early evening, then picks up in intensity for the prime partying hours. I used a grandMA system that will allow an LD to operate it when necessary. Yet there are plenty of good presets for those times when there is no LD and the bar staff is operating the system. The system is really achieving a good balance between being elegant, yet providing tasteful flash when there’s a dance party.”
For his part, Gonzalez shares this enthusiasm. “Everything about this project really fell into place beautifully and the end result is stunning,” he said. “It’s funny how things work out sometimes; we hooked up at a Christmas event and end up creating a beautiful deck environment as a result.”