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Illuminart Transforms the Ford Experience Center with Innovative Lighting

In 2018, independent lighting design firm Illuminart, a Division of Peter Basso Associates embarked on a remarkable journey alongside Ghafari to illuminate the Edsel B. Ford II Experience Center, an integral part of Ford’s 305-acre Dearborn campus transformation. Ford Motor Company envisioned this fully immersive environment as a place where employees, dealers, customers, and thought leaders could converge to shape the future of mobility.


The Ford Experience Center is a dynamic venue, catering to a wide range of functions all hosted within the building’s main lobby. This communal area demanded a lighting concept that not only embodied the spirit of Ford but also provided adaptability to customize colors according to the diverse tones of the hosted events. Ghafari Associates brought on Illuminart, known for its expertise in enhancing environments through innovative lighting designs, to concentrate on this significant space. Robert White, IALD, LC, IES, and Elizabeth Williams, LC, IES, led the creative effort.


Elizabeth articulated that a key design objective was to elevate the subtle architectural elements, which subtly acknowledged the iconic curve of the Ford logo. The building itself, with its oval shape, silently conveyed a robust statement of Ford's presence. Elizabeth stated, “One of the goals was to make it very much a Ford building, kind of having a sense for where you are without them having to be explicit about having branding logos in any place."


In specifying Q-Tran’s flexible encapsulated Q-CAP fixtures, lines of light were strategically employed to accentuate the brand integration. Robert added, "The lighting design not only strengthened brand messaging but also became pivotal in creating an immersive experience.”


Q-CAP’s side bending KURV profile was selected due to checking off a number of boxes: its flexible nature allowed it to follow the curved lines of the glass railing, it could be used to create seamless continuous runs, and the way light pushed out from the fixture via its built-in parabolic curve. This internal reflector focused light upwards along the glass panels of the railing, casting accents onto the ceiling of the lobby and adjacent corridors. It was also used to push light downwards from the top of the staircase to the floor below. Robert added, “This created nuanced layers of light and added an element of wayfinding to guide visitors from the entertaining space to working areas deeper in the building.”


Opting for an RGBW light engine provided the building's ownership with the flexibility to generate a spectrum of colors, such as the iconic Ford blue, mirroring the hues of displayed cars, presenting holiday themes, or smoothly transitioning CCTs from invigorating cool tones from energizing cool tones to a warm hospitality feel. Elizabeth emphasized, "The versatility of the RGBW light engine allowed us to adapt the lighting to different themes and moods, enhancing the overall visitor experience."


The Ford Experience Center serves as a powerful testament to the capacity of lighting design to captivate and motivate its occupants. With the strategic placement of Q-CAP fixtures, Illuminart's design enables Ford to evoke the company's storied history while fostering inspiration for the brand's future. This dynamic lighting scheme not only reinforces Ford's identity but also revolutionizes the visitor experience, effortlessly adjusting to diverse themes and moods. Through the seamless fusion of form and function, Illuminart has not only illuminated the space but also kindled a profound sense of wonder and inspiration within this iconic center.

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