Lighting the way at Party at The Mill

Introducing the first instalment of our Party People feature, a blog series in which we sit down with some of the incredible talent that lies behind The Roasting Party story.

From the beginning of our journey in 2013, we’ve made it our mission to work with specialist local suppliers, contractors and artisans to bring our parties to life. It’s an Aussie trait that’s served us well as we’ve set up home on British shores. And when it came to bringing our newest coffee shop to life, our first outside London, the approach was no different.

Party at The Mill, located just a few miles from our Winchester roastery in Alresford, Hampshire, is set in a newly converted mill dating back to the 1860s. Overlooking the Watercress Line, Alresford’s heritage steam railway, it’s a place steeped in industrial history.

As soon as we saw the space, we knew that the lighting was going to be crucial in creating the vibe we were after. That’s where our friend James, Creative Director of Winchester based James Poore Lighting Design, came in.

We sat down with James to talk about how he lit the way at Party at The Mill.

How did you come on board with the project?

Kirby (Co-Founder) approached us directly at the beginning of 2020 and told us about this amazing site he was looking at in Alresford. It immediately piqued our interest – our imaginations went into overdrive! Like all other parties, it occupies a stunning and unique location.

The project was fast paced, even with the additional challenges posed by the events of 2020, but we managed to turn it round from concept to installation within 2 months.

How did you pull together the design?

Because of the historic location, a sense of place was crucial to the scheme. Our brief was for a 1930s French cafe/bistro vibe, and we leaned into the era further to pick up on the age of steam. We also wanted to tie in with the industrial nature of the building.

We opted for wall lights to echo the fittings found in station buildings and train carriages of the 1930s, paired with classic reeded glass shades to allow transmission of the daylight that pours in through the open-plan space.

We couldn’t source the exact style we had in mind, so after talking to several manufacturers we eventually selected fittings from Mullan, which we customised by combining different combinations of arms, shade types and lamp holders.

For the main lighting, we selected factory style pendants in keeping with the building’s industrial past. To tie these in with the decorative wall lighting, we worked with Mullan to paint the gooseneck arms of the wall lights, along with the outside casing and cage of the pendants in the same grey colour.

As a final indulgence, we contacted the incredible team at Skinflint and selected a trio of prismatic railway lights salvaged from decommissioned signalling equipment in Hungary, modified to achieve the specific light output we needed. These stunning statement luminaires give a nod to both the industrial and railway heritage, providing a wonderful talking point in the space.

How did you decide on the placement of the different lighting styles?

Luminaire locations and a sense of rhythm is key to any good lighting scheme. However, when using strong decorative luminaires to create a certain aesthetic, this becomes even more crucial.

The large, utilitarian factory pendants were suspended at a height and spacing which not only provided the desired levels of illumination, but also represented the typical positioning found in many early 20th century factories and industrial units.

In a similar vein, the wall lights were positioned at a height and spacing which gives a clear nod to the positions typically found in early railway property, and the narrow corridors of traditional coaches.

How do the decorative feature pieces work with the architectural lighting elements?

As with any space or scheme, the architectural lighting should be anonymous and bring out key elements of the building or interior without being obvious. It creates the canvas on which everything else sits.

Due to structural, integration and budget restraints we needed to find a simple solution for up-lighting the ceiling vault. We achieved this by using surface mounted exterior fittings, effectively mounted on their side and angled to wash light up onto the roof.

Subtle linear lighting was mounted into simple return details to wash down the bar/counter face and underneath and behind the banquette seating.

Any other local projects you can tell us about?

We’re fortunate to have worked on several interesting local projects, including the independent clock repairer and retailer Carter Marsh. We also have a number of wonderful private residential clients and projects in and around the local area.

Further afield, we have just completed the lighting design for the retail spaces at the new Manchester Airport Terminal 2 and 27 shops at Chengdu airport in China. We are also currently working on two large shopping mall complexes and landscaping in Hainan Provence.

Other projects in the pipeline involve art works, historical and listed buildings, but that’s all I can reveal now. We are also excited to be looking at a couple more Roasting Party sites with Kirby and Wes, but again – you’ll have to watch this space!

And last, but by no means least, what’s your go-to coffee order?

My daily routine starts off before I leave the house with a French Press with Roasting Party Drake beans, freshly ground of course. Then on the way to the studio it’s a quick call via Josie’s for an extra shot skinny flat white (Roasting Party coffee again!). Once in the studio it’s back to Drake, but this time in the AeroPress.