The Rothschild Collection lighting by Pfarré Lighting Design

Pfarré Lighting Design uses two-way mirrors and LED screens to display gold bullion

A collection of 300 pieces of gold bullion has been lit up and displayed in a room with two-way mirrored glass by German practice Pfarré Lighting Design.

The Rothschild Collection is currently on display at the Goldkammer Museum in Frankfurt, Germany.

Displays in The Rothschild Collection displayed by Pfarré Lighting Design at the Goldkammer Museum in Frankfurt
LED screens are placed behind the glass for displays

Gold bullion is a precious metal that is stored in the form of bars, ingots or special coins and kept as emergency currency or an investment.

Pfarré Lighting Design created the final showcase for the bullion in the museum, displaying the precious artefacts in a unique way and creating a space that is also suitable to hire out for events.

38 silk-lined vitrines The Rothschild Collection displayed by Pfarré Lighting Design at the Goldkammer Museum in Frankfurt
Gold bullion is displayed in 300 vitrines

The project has been shortlisted for Dezeen Awards 2020 in the architectural lighting design category.

Three sides of the 64-square-metre room at the Goldkammer Museum are formed of two-way mirrors, a piece of glass that is reflective on one side and transparent on the other.

The intensity of light determines if something can be viewed through the reflective side.

LED screens in The Rothschild Collection displayed by Pfarré Lighting Design at the Goldkammer Museum in Frankfurt
Bullet-proof glass is sandwiched between two-way mirrors

On one side of the glass, the gold bullion is displayed in 38 red vitrines that glow with LED lighting so that they appear suspended amidst the mirrored darkness to the viewer.

The lighting can be changed so that the exhibitions can vanish, or digital presentations can be projected onto the glass.

Events can be held at The Rothschild Collection displayed by Pfarré Lighting Design at the Goldkammer Museum in Frankfurt
The Rothschild Collection can be hired for events

The walls flanking the display cases have LED screens installed behind the glass. These display information about the history of the 300 pieces of gold bullion, which come from 35 different countries.

"Due to the mirrored walls, guests can have the immersive experience of being right in the centre of the media presentation," explained Pfarré Lighting Design.

Gold bullion against red silk The Rothschild Collection displayed by Pfarré Lighting Design at the Goldkammer Museum in Frankfurt
Each vitrine is lined with red silk

To add to the lighting challenge, the two-way mirrors sandwich a piece of 19-millimetre-thick bulletproof glass required to keep the valuable collection safe.

"High luminance levels have been applied to manage the thickness and absorption of the glass layers," explained Pfarré Lighting Design. "Various tests and mock-ups had to be conducted in order to elaborate the lighting typologies."

Red silk-line vitrine in The Rothschild Collection displayed by Pfarré Lighting Design at the Goldkammer Museum in Frankfurt
Fibre optic spotlights light up the gold pieces

Each vitrine displaying a piece of gold has backlit sides, made from LED panels covered in red silk. The designers chose a warm white light to best enhance the colours of silk and gold.

Mini fibre optic spotlights are trained on each individual gold object, lighting them up without revealing the source of the lighting. Floors and ceilings are matte black to provide contrast.

Pfarré Lighting Design was founded in 1983 by Gerd Pfarré.

Other projects shortlisted for Dezeen Awards in the architectural lighting design category includes the lighting for Snøhetta's Under restaurant by Light Bureau and light-up bridges for London's River Thames by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.

Photography is by Markus Tollhopf.


Project credits:

Lighting design: Pfarré Lighting Design
Team: Gerd Pfarré, Dominik Buhl
Client: Degussa Goldhandel
Architects: AS+P Albert Speer + Partner
Spatial and media concept, film production: Blackspace
Vitrines: Barth
Manufacturers: DGA, Luxam, Folio, Davide Groppi