Christmas at Swedish shopping center Väla Centrum didn’t begin in December. It began in March. At the top of marketing manager Ulrika Nordström’s wish list was the transformation of the large spaces within the shopping center with stand-out lighting and decoration that would be consistent with the character of the brand.
“Here in Sweden, our Christmas traditions focus less on Christmas Eve, Santa and piles of presents and more on a festive time filled with holidays and celebrations that focus on food, friends and family. I knew early on in the year that I wanted to create an extraordinary experience, and that I wanted that experience to embrace Väla’s brand, but I wasn’t quite sure what that would look like. With that in mind, I knew that it made sense to get the team at MK Illumination team on board well in advance of the festive season,” says Nordström.
Once Nordström had shared her ideas, MK Illumination put a large team with all the necessary competencies to support the project. The design team sourced inspirational images and developed ideas, which became increasingly daring, grand and international in style as Spring came to an end. In parallel, the project management team assessed the space that Nordström wanted to decorate, carrying out studies and load calculations. It’s just as well they did because they quickly discovered that the atrium wouldn’t support large hanging decorations and lighting motifs. Armed that information, the graphic design team was able to develop a series of sketches and visualizations that slowly began to take shape as Nordström and her team provided input and feedback.
“We wanted to use decoration and lighting deliberately to enhance the beauty of Väla and show off the architecture of the center. It was important that the end result was cohesive and consistent and impactful: we didn’t want something that was scattered and fragmented,” says Nordström.
Regular communication and open dialogue between Nordström and MK Illumination was a key part in ensuring that everyone involved in the project was striving towards the same goal. It was also essential in helping the combined team devise creative solutions that combined some of Väla’s existing decorations with standard MK Illumination products, reimagined and applied in creative and unconventional ways.
The center’s main square became a glittering, Instagrammable space, whilst the Old Square’s urban environment was transformed into an exotic space filled with tropical flair and some unexpected—and rather delightful!— touches.
Thanks to the cutting-edge knowledge of MK Installation, MK Illumination Sweden’s company, the right staff were in place to complete the complicated assembly of the concept. The installation team dovetaild with Väla’s team which, in addition to Nordström, also included the technical manager, operations team, and the in-house electrician and carpenter.
“By working so closely together we were able to get everything in place in record time. The way we worked also allowed us to make good, last-minute decisions that were needed during the installation process,” says Nordström.
For two nights, between 20h00 and 10h00, MK Installation’s decorator, twelve lift drivers and six high-altitude lifts performed at their best within the tight time constraints. The decorator’s pre-prepared documentation was invaluable in giving the installation team the guidance they needed, and their use of decorations that had been completed in advance in MK Illumination’s warehouse in Malmö helped the team deliver in spite of the short timescales. A final night was devoted to quality assurance and making minor adjustments to the displays, after which everything was read to live. Thanks to the team’s good planning and structured way of working, the work took place in a modular fashion. The result was that for three days, visitors were treated to an evolving festive experience that culminated in the complete lighting and decoration.
“It was like stepping into a new world every day. And when we then unveiled the design and switched on the lights… Wow! For other center managers who want to emulate what we’ve done, my advice is this: enjoy the Väla experience, but then do something. Turn your ideas into reality. That’s when the magic happens!” says Nordström.