April 1, 2010
An LED ceiling helps set the mood for the cheeky frozen-yogurt chain Snog.
England may be a land of culinary treats—strawberries and cream, bangers and mash, and the best curries outside of Mumbai—but it’s not a place you’d readily associate with organic frozen yogurt. And for the designer Dominic Harris, that was part of the charm of working with Snog. Over the past two years, Harris and his multidisciplinary London-based firm, Cinimod Studio, have created four stores in the U.K.’s capital for the yogurt purveyor, using architecture and interactive lighting to transform the chain into a social-media phenomenon.
“The brief was to create a high-end interior environment that was uniquely British and wholly original,” Harris says. To fit the brand’s cheeky name—it’s slang for French-kissing—he came up with an equally cheeky concept: a never-ending British summer. “We Brits don’t have the best record for having summers,” he says with a laugh. “But everything in the store became tweaked or manipulated to reflect what a perfect one would be like.”
The floors of the three dedicated stores (Snog also has a kiosk in London’s Westfield Mall) are covered in photographic images of grass that the team shot at the city’s famed Kew Gardens, and Moroso Shitake stools and bespoke tables resemble oversize lily pads. The walls are a punkish bright pink (the custom hue contains a fluorescent pigment for extra glow), with an area set aside to show rotating work by guest artists.
But the stores’ defining element is the ceiling, an animated digital sky that changes colors and patterns throughout the day. In the newest Snog, which opened in Covent Garden in March, Cinimod created a cloud of 1,500 individually programmable LEDs, each hanging from the ceiling in its own glass orb. The fixtures can be set to flicker gently through millions of hues. The result is a bewitching movement of light that resembles anything from a sunrise to a nightclub.
A smaller version of the ceiling—which debuted in Snog’s Soho outlet—has already taken on a life of its own, to Harris’s delight. “People like to be photographed in the store, and pictures and videos of the architecture and lights keep popping up on social media like YouTube and Facebook,” he says. He is anxious to see if the concept travels when Snog opens its first international outlet, in Dubai, later this spring. In the meantime, he’s pleased that customers are enamored of the design. “Snog is an example of how we want to use light to engage with the public,” he says. “If people don’t like it, our job is not done properly.”