The Power of Color at Club Foam in Vejle, Denmark

August 25, 2009

Club Foam in Vejle, Denmark is about establishing an international level club through the use of technology – and succeeding. Opening its doors earlier in the year as a combination discotheque and concert venue, Club Foam is something novel on the Danish club scene.

The two-level, 1100 square meter club caters to a variety of tastes across three distinct areas, each with its own DJ: Club Foam, an 18 and over lounge with dance floor and live stage; Bar Mix, a 21 and over lounge with smaller dance floor; and VIP Bar. But that’s not necessarily what makes the 1200 capacity club unique.

What sets Club Foam apart is the unique approach taken by owner Heinrich Schrøder and Danish lighting designer Dan Christensen’s to clearly place the decorative and atmospheric emphasis on color changing light. Schrøder and Christensen wanted to do something special with the club’s design and lighting concept and chose to use a minimalistic black/white design with color changing light as the main decorative element to set moods and create energy and dynamism.

Rewind to Havana
Rewind to another of Schrøder’s Danish nightclubs, Havana in the city of Varde. Installed at Havana was a cheap lighting solution that just wasn’t making an impact and after eight months Heinrich was about to close the club.

He subsequently sought design input from Christensen which included an all new concept that placed the emphasis on an immersive dynamic lighting scheme rather than on the audio system. The result? Whereas only 100 people would venture to Havana on a typical Saturday night, after the new lighting scheme the venue now attracts about 500-600.

“It was a huge success,” Christensen comments. “Everything in Havana was essentially the same as before except for the lighting. We proved that with light you can really earn money.” Schrøder and Christensen then took the lighting design from Havana and used that concept in Club Foam but on a larger scale.

The power of colored light
The goal at Club Foam was to create a venue with lighting as the main decorative element. “We don’t use large fixtures, large furniture, etc.,” Christensen explains. “It is a space where we can change the feel, the moment, where light can make it warm or cold, bright or dark.”

Christensen’s 20 years of lighting experience has given him a special way of programming light. “I use very subtle and soft movements with color and use very little in the way of gobos,” he explains. “But still the impact is huge. The color on the walls combines with light from the moving heads and LED wall images.”

Schrøder is more straightforward when he speaks of the intent with the lighting, “The goal of the lighting was to do something that blows your mind when you come in,” he says. “By controlling the lighting we control people’s moods. I tell people that lighting is 60% of my interior decorating. We have fewer decorative things on the walls than in the past - now we decorate with lighting.” According to Schrøder, a positive, memorable experience coupled with excellent service is the important element as it leads to repeat business.

A visit to Martin Professional Scandinavia gave both Schrøder and Christensen new ideas about a total lighting package that integrated with their ‘entrance to back wall’ lighting concept. Working in close dialogue through the designing and specification phase, Martin Professional Scandinavia helped Club Foam to plan the installation phase which included making the wiring task easier.

Schrøder, who owns five other venues in Denmark, came away with an “all in” attitude and a desire to create something especially unique. He states, “If you want to do something today that makes people say ‘hey, that is great or that looks really awesome’ you have to do something really exceptional. I started in this business 17 years ago and it’s developed a lot as far as lighting and sound. People want good lighting and good sound but great sound isn’t essential; you just need to have good sound, that’s my opinion. Lighting is something you see and people are more affected by it.”

Concert feel
The full on color experience actually begins at the outside queue with Martin Alien LED Downlights™ mounted in the roof illuminating the party hopefuls and giving them a taste of the dynamic atmosphere that awaits them inside.

Once inside, more Alien LED Downlights continue the luminous theme in a welcoming 2 ½ meter high entrance space before opening up to a much larger area with a lofty 8 meter high ceiling that features a performance stage complete with 20 square meter Martin LC Series™ LED screen backdrop.

“We wanted to make the club different by giving it a concert feel,” Schrøder explains. “We built the sound and light system so that when you enter the club the sound and lighting is mellow and you can talk. But as you get closer to the stage and dance floor the sound and lighting get louder and brighter. It’s like a concert atmosphere in a club. Different areas of the club influence you in different ways based on the sound and lighting.”

LC Series backdrop
The LC Series LED backdrop, which is visible no matter where you are in the venue, runs custom graphics via a Martin Maxedia™ media server as well as stock graphical content that Christensen has altered with respect to color and speed, etc. The LED panels are also used for advertising purposes to project supplier brands (Tuborg for example) who pay handsomely to have their logos transmitted, another revenue generator. With video cameras about the space, they also have the possibility to film guests and put their images on the LED wall. A number of plasma screens run content from the Maxedia servers as well.

Club Foam can host relatively large concerts and is gaining a reputation as a must stop on the Danish music scene, attracting name bands who appreciate the fact that they can simply plug and play without dragging their own lighting gear with them. “Not only are bands impressed,” says Christensen, “but the venue saves money they would otherwise have to use to rent gear.”

LED Downlight
Adding prodigious amounts of immersive color to the club are an abundance of LED Downlights mounted in the ceiling and used to enhance the black and white wall graphics in all three areas. Each room’s LED Downlights are programmed alike and can change the atmosphere in the space by a simple change of color.

“By using the Downlights we’ve put more emphasis on lighting in the venue and expanded the space,” says Schrøder. “Using one color on the dance floor and the same color on the walls makes the venue appear larger. In Bar Mix it is even more dominating as there is a small dance floor at one end.” In Club Foam, the color scheme extends to the LED wall as well.

The mood in the club changes as the evening progresses with darker, cozier lighting early in the evening and brighter, more energetic looks as the party moves into higher gear. The goal, says Schrøder, is to have guests stay and party all night.

Smart effects
Hanging above the dance floor in Club Foam are eight pods of three Martin smartMAC™ profile light and image projector’s each, each pod with a single Jem Hydra™ smoke head mounted in the middle. The pods were designed and made by the club themselves. Additionally, Martin Mania SCX600™ scanners are used in both Bar Mix and VIP Bar to splay a multitude of brilliant effects.

Smoke system
The Jem Hydra is a unique fog system that allows multiple DMX controlled output heads to be located remotely (up to 150 m) for total flexibility in fog placement. A centralized pump at floor level makes fluid refills a no hassle experience.

“The Hydra has been a big success for us,” Schrøder comments. “Many use CO2 but it is very loud and very expensive. What we like about Hydra is that we can shoot a lot of fog down onto the crowd and fill the room from wall to wall in seconds so you can hardly see. People are crazy about it and scream when we do it. Then in 10 seconds all the fog is gone again.” The mid air projection canopy for the scanner and moving head effects comes courtesy of Jem K1 and Martin Magnum 2500 Hz™ hazers with fog generation from powerful Magnum 1500s™.

As a special atmospheric enticement, low lying fog from a Jem Glaciator X-Stream™ is spread across the dance floor early and late in the evening. The self-contained heavy fogger is a simple plug-and-play ground fog effect and crowd favorite. It eliminates the mess of Dry Ice and CO2 (not to mention the cost) and is the most powerful heavy fogger on the market.

LightJockey™ control
Lighting control is separate in each area and handled via PC-based Martin LightJockey™ controllers with touch screens, a single point of lighting management for the DJ complete with pre-set lighting solutions.

Christensen, who has used Martin gear since the early days of the company (in fact, he was one of the first to ever use Martin scanners in the late 80s), handled all of the lighting programming. “I used Light Manager in LightJockey so DJs themselves can choose colors and other elements,” he says. “As always I kept it as simple as possible with maybe 40 slow, medium and fast programs to work with.”

Club Foam has been a big success since opening – “beyond what we thought it would be,” says Christensen. “It attracts people from all over Denmark because it’s something new and a new way of thinking about lighting.”

Club Foam
24 x Martin smartMAC™
4 x Martin Atomic 3000™
10 x Martin LC Series™ 2140
45 x Martin Alien LED Downlight™
4 x Martin Alien LED Downlight™ (high power)
1 x Jem Glaciator™
1 x Jem K1 Hazer™
1 x Jem Hydra™ (8 heads)
1 x Martin Maxedia Compact Rackmount™
1 x Martin LightJockey™

Bar Mix
50 x Martin Alien LED Downlight™
6 x Martin Mania SCX600™
1 x Martin Magnum 2500™
1 x Martin LightJockey™

22 x Martin Alien LED Downlight™
6 x Martin Mania SCX600™
1 x Martin Magnum 1500™
1 x Martin LightJockey™

10 x Martin Alien LED Downlight™

Outdoor Entrance
10 x Martin Alien LED Downlight™

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