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Grand Basel – custom-designed lighting for exclusive collectors' automobiles

Curved edges of light trace the aerodynamic body shape on azure-blue paint and the polish of chrome parts brilliantly sparkles. Can cars be art? A question that answers itself in the presence of automotive rarities such as the 1958 Citroen DS "Le Croisette". The cabriolet could be seen together with a brace of other beauties at the Grand Basel, a new show for exclusive, classic cars.

If aesthetics alone are not enough, the fact that the "Déesse", with its central hydraulics for suspension, steering and brakes wrote technological history, may prove the relevance of the exhibit. As symbols of progress and objects of desire, classic automobiles always represent the zeitgeist of their creation - and, thanks to limited availability, have long enjoyed the status of both collector's items and financial investments. Accordingly, it seems only plausible that the Swiss exhibition company MCH Group, organisers of the world's leading art fair Art Basel, are focusing on this issue with their new event. After all, who else could draw on a comparable depth of experience with highly aesthetic and costly exhibits, but also with a correspondingly exclusive audience?

"The Grand Basel presents its vehicles as if in a gallery. Nothing should distract from the exhibits."
(Mark Backé, Director of Grand Basel)

Uniform light as an aesthetic framework

The concept of the Grand Basel, which celebrated its premiere from 6 to 9 September 2018, is also based on strict selection. More than one hundred automobiles will be shown - but never more than two or three selected vehicles from a dealer or collector will be positioned in one of the "frames" that make up the exhibition architecture: immaculately white, frame-like platforms that are sealed above by opaque stretch film. This homogeneous form of presentation also includes staging of the exhibits with light. In order to convey an optimal visual impression of shapes, colours and materials, both "live" and in the media via photo or film, the technical parameters for quality of light were defined at an early stage in the design process. Responsible for this was the engineer and lighting designer Andreas Seiler who planned the lighting and other technical elements on behalf of the Berlin design company Blue Scope.

One challenge was the desire to travel with the entire exhibition architecture. Like Art Basel with its international offshoots, Grand Basel will also make stops in Miami, Hong Kong and other locations in the future. For the technology this means: it must not only be portable and efficient to assemble and disassemble, but must also comply with the various power grids, regulations and safety requirements of the host country. To avoid mixed lighting situations in naturally illuminated exhibition halls, the lighting designers specified a daylight-similar light with a 5700K colour temperature - but also very good colour rendering of Ra≥90. Further specifications included dimmability on the housing and flexibility with regard to the beam angle.

"We couldn't find a serial product in the market that met all our criteria."
(Andreas Seiler, lighting designer at 360x media)

"ERCO individual" succeeds all along the line

Potential suppliers, including ERCO, were contacted for this custom lighting solution. At ERCO the possibilities of individualising series products and developing sophisticated special luminaires are brought together as part of the company's "ERCO individual" service. The option proved to be a winning formula: the responsible ERCO lighting consultant rapidly presented a prototype based on the Parscan spotlight series that already largely met the requirements. Later, during extensive sampling at the client's premises in Basel, the individualised Parscan spotlights were finally able to assert themselves in a direct comparison: not only through precise adherence to all technical specifications but also thanks to the product design and the winning visual impression. After a few days at the fair Mark Backé still remains enthusiastic: "It's amazing how well the concept functions," says the director of the Grand Basel. "Working with the spotlights in the frames as the exclusive light sources throughout the hall."

Project data

Client: MCH Group, Basel / Switzerland
Architecture: Blue Scope, Berlin / Germany
Lighting designer: Andreas Seiler, 360x media, Weimar / Germany
Project management: Reto Ginsig, Expomobilia AG, Illnau / Switzerland
Photography: Moritz Hillebrand, Zurich / Switzerland

Products: Parscan, ERCO individual
Photo credits: © ERCO GmbH,, Moritz Hillebrand

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About ERCO

The ERCO Light Factory in Lüdenscheid is a leading international specialist in architectural lighting using LED technology. The family business, founded in 1934, now operates as a global player with over 60 subsidiaries, branches and agencies in over 40 countries worldwide. Since 2015 ERCO's portfolio has been 100% LED. Inspired by "light digital" as its leitmotif, ERCO in Lüdenscheid develops, designs and produces digital luminaires with focus on photometrics, electronics and design. Working closely with architects, lighting designers and engineers, ERCO develops lighting tools used primarily for applications in the following fields: Work, Shop, Culture, Community, Hospitality, Living, Public and Contemplation. ERCO understands digital light as the fourth dimension of architecture - providing highly precise and efficient lighting solutions to support creative designers in turning their visions into reality.
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