How Lighting Contributes to the Vapourous, Aerial Design of Microsoft’s Montreal Conference Centre

Microsoft Montreal


Feb 08 2016

Microsoft has recently opened its first conference centre in Montreal. Metaphore Design, corporate interior design expert, was given the mandate to develop a functional and welcoming space that inspires innovation. It was after a thorough study of this world leader’s DNA that the designers opted for a vaporous and aerial signature, punctuated with dynamic elements.

The lighting of the space, designed in collaboration with LumiGroup, plays a key role in the interior design concept. Subtle at times, bright, diffuse or alive at others, the lighting accompanies, punctuates and accentuates every detail; sometimes becoming a shape, volume, or graphic/architectural element.

Microsoft’s Montreal Conference Centre
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All photos courtesy of Katrina Lee, Leeworkstudio

Skyscape, vaporous atmosphere
Upon entry, visitors are welcomed by a structurally organic and aerodynamic reception desk, with undefined limits. This floating white object instantly transports us to Microsoft’s universe, one of intangibility, immateriality, technology, innovation, and creativity. The company logo also appears to float in this silky white pool, thanks to soft lighting with undefined contouring. This dreamy effect is achieved with a special lens, Dasal’s Wall-Wash, which evenly distributes the light using a wider and higher light beam than is used in standard recessed lights.

Our attention is then directed towards a dropped ceiling, present in three conference rooms, revealing a blue sky occupied by delicate clouds, referring to Windows system’s famous wallpaper, an iconic Microsoft image. The minimalist profile lighting fixture, through its bidirectional lighting, highlights both the azure ceiling and the conference table, providing a functional workspace. A gradient frost on the glass walls adds to the vaporous and airy ambiance. Then, in an unexpected way, the dropped ceiling pierces the conference room wall to finish its course in the waiting room, as if to remind us of the absence of limits in this digital and virtual world.

The waiting room comprises multiple areas: an area for relaxing, another for social meet-ups or entertainment, a lounge area with intimate seating, a bar counter and a video game area. This was achieved using an array of volumes, materials and colours. The lighting remains discreet and functional, while the central ring of light punctuates the room in a more playful way.

Linear and rhythmic movement
The light then energetically unfolds in the main corridor, where we notice a rhythmic game of recessed light bands of varying lengths in the ceiling. This light pattern continues in the adjacent inner conference room, crossing through the completely transparent glass wall, again challenging the physical boundaries.

Another dynamic movement is observed at the entrance of the training room where, contrasting with the padded and floating atmosphere of the reception and conference rooms, a large backlit mural displays photographed silhouettes in motion. A long strip of vivid white light overlooks the mural, accentuating velocity, guiding the visitor towards the entrance of the room. These notions of speed and linear movement, also noticeable in the pattern on the floor, graphically illustrate technology and its rapid development.

LumiGroup and Métaphore Design transport us into a world between floating and movement, between serenity and dynamism, where material and digital seem to merge. It is because of this balance that Microsoft’s conference centre provides a welcoming environment where technology becomes intelligible, and facilitates interactions and learning.

Technical sheet
• Client: Microsoft Canada
• Location: 2000 McGill College Avenue, 5th Floor, Montreal, Canada
• Design firm: Metaphore Design
• Main Designers: Robert Gauthier, Marjorie Marshall and Marine Dubus
• Project Manager: Jones Lang Lasalle
• General Contractor: Avicor
• Lighting: LumiGroup (Dasal)
• Furniture: Cime Decor (Haworth)
• Flooring: Shaw Contract Group

About LumiGroup
LumiGroup, founded in 1995, is Quebec’s largest lighting agency. It represents a vast number of lighting manufacturers from Quebec and around the world, exhibited in a 10,000 square foot showroom in the heart of Montreal’s Mile End artistic district. In collaboration with industry specialists, LumiGroup creates lighting solutions, including fixtures and controls.

About Metaphore Design
Metaphore Design is an interior design firm specialized in the concept development of offices and corporate spaces. For Metaphore Design, the design of a workspace is not a simple creative exercise. It must reflect the corporate essence of the company, and provide a healthy and ergonomic environment for staff, while enhancing the branding strategy and supporting management goals.



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