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Cork’s Mahon Point: Festive deLIGHTs year after year

John Riordan, Managing Director of MK Illumination Ireland, reports how the right lighting and décor has helped Mahon Point Shopping Center in Cork (Ireland) create a festive atmosphere since 2008.

ACROSS: You’ve been working with Mahon Point since 2008 as their festive lighting and décor supplier. How did that come about?

JOHN RIORDAN: As with most of our projects, we were invited to submit a proposal as part of a tender process. The center opened in 2005 and by 2008 the center manager was looking for something different and fresh. The center manager at the time knew MK Illumination because we’d worked with him when he’d managed other centers in the area, and he liked our approach. I’m pleased to say that we understood the brief and we won the tender. Every 3-4 years, the center issues a new tender, and I’m even more pleased to say that we’ve continued to win each time.

ACROSS: How many different festive lighting concepts have you created for Mahon Point over the years, and how have the concepts changed?

RIORDAN: Since 2008, we’ve created 4 different festive concepts for Mahon Point. Our 2008 concept was full of red and ice white, with soaring red-nosed reindeer suspended from the center’s ceilings. Shoppers had never seen anything like it and it was an immediate hit. In 2012, the center wanted the lighting to feel warmer, so we added gold to the color palette as well as warm white light. The overall feel was softer, more inviting. 2012 was also the year that we installed the 6.5m reindeer that has since become a symbol of the center over the holidays, as well a giant tree: big, bold motifs that really caught people’s eyes. In 2015, the reindeer and giant tree remained, as did the color scheme, but we added new star motifs throughout the center, re-introduced ice white light to add contrast, and incorporated a Santa’s Grotto, which the kids loved. In 2018, everything changed: the color scheme, the motifs. Everything except the 6.5m reindeer, of course – that remained, guarding over the center from the outside.

ACROSS: Sounds exciting, but mysterious! How and why did the 2018 concept change?

RIORDAN: The change was inspired by the center management team. Their main goal was to create something radically different to all their previous festive concepts: still festive, but something that would immediately make people say “Wow!” when they walked into the center. Like any successful business, Mahon Point keeps an eye on their audience – in this case, their shoppers – and they identified that around 70% of their shoppers were female. So, the goal was to create something festive that would be a talking point and that women in particular would enjoy. The result was a fashion concept with oversized 3D light sculptures of handbags, high heel shoes, and perfume bottles displayed them around the center. We changed the giant tree into a giant walk-through tree, decorated with foil cut-outs of bags, perfume bottles and shoes, and filled the interior with glitter-encrusted bags – a big hit with children and the young at heart! And the color scheme was adapted to have a more fashionable feel to it: out went the red and in came gold, silver, and white with a splash of pink.

Read the full interview here, see more lighting insights and ideas, or get in touch with our Retail Real Estate team directly for more information.