Even from the get-go, IndigO2, a 2,410-seat, 45,000-square-foot music club in Greenwich, England, was not your typical concert hall. The first clue was its proportions. "Very rarely does this size venue get built in this country," says Simon Burger of careyjones interiors, the British firm that oversaw the space’s design and decor. The second was its context. Housed in the former Millennium Dome, which developer AEG leased from the U.K. government in 2005, the club was to work in tandem with a 20,000-seat sister venue, the O2 arena, located mere yards away. And third, but most important, was its function. Though billed as a place to hear live music, it also, for financial reasons, had to be able to host everything from award dinners to after-parties to conventions. The resulting of these factors? , a marvel of adaptability that went from detailed drawings to finished project in eight months, uses hospitality and lighting elements to customize the room and satisfy a diverse clientele.
Key to IndigO2 is its organization. The triple-height room is centered on a stage, which sits at the far right end of a ballroom-like ground floor. A long, curved bar with a slatted timber finish is conveniently placed on the other end, allowing audience members to get their drinks without missing any of the performance; stalls of cloth seats—which can be removed and configured as needed—line the area in between the stage and bar. A cantilevered balcony with stadium seating fills the other two levels, with another bar, Bleachers, positioned at its pinnacle. In the case of a small event or low ticket sales, the ground floor can be used alone, a black curtain pulled across the balcony to block it out, or that first floor can be utilized in tandem with the first six rows of the balcony, a premium area called King’s Row, which offers extra-wide seats and waitress service.
Unlike at a larger venue, which is about securing banner acts and “getting bums on seats,” as Burger puts it, IndigO2 needed to use its décor as a draw. This offered Burger, who served as the lead interior designer on the project, more of “a license to play” than usual. Working closely with careyjones managing director David Matthews, who oversaw all aspects of IndigO2, Burger opted for edgy but practical touches. Take the scrim of silver hexagons that overlay the soundproofing panels throughout the space. Not only does the metal create a sophisticated, wallpaper-like pattern over the jet-black panels, which the team decided to leave exposed, but also protects them and reduces venue upkeep. After all, Burger explains, metal is far more durable than a plaster or paint finish would be.
It was important the space feel modern and technologically advanced. Best conveying that sense is the venue’s lighting, which is divided into the two broad categories of show and feature. The former, which included highly technical theatrical components like strobes, stage spots, and wash lights, were the purview of audio-visual consultant Greg Pauker, who worked in accordance with guidelines set by AEG Live, the subsidiary that owns IndigO2 and the O2. The more architectural feature lighting, which included the silver Concord Merlin Blitz pin point fixtures affixed to each pillar and along the walls, and the low-level LED emergency luminaries positioned on each stair tread, were specified by careyjones working in conjunction with ME Engineers. All are state-of-the-art and in a silver finish.
But most impressive are the color-changing Philips LED Batten Luminaries, which the team hung by the auditorium’s entranceway, along the ground floor and balcony bars, and across the mock proscenium of the stage. Controlled via a DMX unit, the lights can bathe the room in whichever single hue is desired, altering the space’s mood or customizing its for a particular client. “If it’s say, O2, and blue’s the company’s color, we can turn the whole venue blue,” explains Burger. “It makes us able to market the venue quickly and efficiently.”
Similar reasons were behind IndigO2’s VIP area, the Purple Lounge, a secluded room located to the right of the balcony. Reserved on gig nights for King’s Row ticket holders, and available at other times for private hire, it offers a luxurious, nightclub-like atmosphere that can be customized at will. Clientele enter through a special hallway lined with brilliant polished copper plates, which opens to a room with a curved beech ceiling, expanses of cowhide and buttery leather on the walls, and soft seating, both movable and fixed. They can watch the gig on the plasma TV screens, order a flute from the champagne bar, boogie on the dance floor, or just “take a booth, sit there, and get bottle service,” says Burger. A destination until itself, the lounge appeals to customers that normally wouldn’t visit a music venue. Which is the point. “Nowadays, all clients want their space to have flexibility,” says Burger, noting that economics are driving the trend. “They want it to be a rock venue [one night], then have the National Health Service doing a talk in there” the next. Fortunately, careyjones has equipped IndigO2 with the ability to handle both—and then some. Who said you can’t satisfy everyone?