You say you want a Revolution?

Since 1992, the Montreal-based entertainment empire of Cirque du Soleil has been turning Las Vegas on its creative ear by presenting some of the most inspired shows to ever hit the Strip. Five unique modern circus productions by Cirque currently play amid the dazzle of Sin City’s footlights, but it is a room sans acrobats and contortionists that is creating the latest buzz.

“We wanted to create a space where guests of LOVE [the Cirque du Soleil show inspired by the spirit and music of The Beatles] could gather before, between, and after the show,” says architect Stphanie Cardinal of Montreal’s Hum Design + Architecture. The result is the Revolution Lounge at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, a room that might initiate a radical rethinking of the lounge concept in much the same way that the Beatles ignited change in the music industry. It also happens to be the first 24/7 club environment Cirque has designed.

The lounge measures 7,700 square feet, some 800 square feet of which had previously housed slot machines, with the balance of the area serving as retail space in its previous incarnation. In what Cardinal calls “a show of Cirque’s conviction to its vision,” the casino was persuaded to take out 15 slots – an amazing feat in a town that boasts one operating onearmed bandit for every eight residents.

Cardinal and her team faced another, bigger challenge: how could they design a room based on the Beatles without ending up with something that resembled a literal interpretation of the group la a Hard Rock Caf outlet? The solution came in the form of innovative multimedia graphics and technology.

Dividing the space into distinct zones not only made the project more workable but also enabled the design team to develop a progressive theme that flows From one end of the lounge to the other. For example, the colour palette ranges from black and white to more vibrant colours as one moves through the space – a reference to the black-and-white era of the 1950s that heralded the Fab Four’s formation and the subsequent psychedelic period of the ground-breaking Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

In typical Cirque fashion, the lounge shuns the oft-used moving light nightclub decor aesthetic in favour of communal interaction and technological interactivity, with the underlying theme of the Beatles music, as well as the music that influenced them or has been inspired by them.

The entrance point of the Revolution Lounge is the Abbey Road Bar. A popular gathering area, the space is rife with references to the legendary recording studio’s address as well as the black-andwhite film era that introduced the British Invasion to the world – both of which are given a nod by the ample use of concrete and slate. A projection wall displays graffiti in homage to the real-life graffiti fence outside the famed Abbey Road studios.

On another wall, lyrics from various Beatles tunes add graphic interest. Colours on the screening panels fade in and out to create an effect of movement.

The transition point between the bar and lounge areas is dominated by wall-sized letters -big enough to sit on or dance in -that spell out REVOLUTION. Interestingly, the embedded word LOVE is highlighted to underscore both the underlying theme of the Beatles’s music, and the Revolution Lounge. “As people enter the lounge, they bring love into the space,” explains Cardinal. “In a way, they are creating their own revolution, just like the Beatles did with music.”

The gem of the space, however, is found in the inner Lucy in the Sky -inspired lounge. Here, the black box was transformed by more than 35,000 pieces of custom-cut dichroic glass that hang like diamonds from the ceiling. “It looks like an exploded diamond,” says Cardinal, noting the effect is enhanced by three support pillars surrounded by triangular panels (some of which are made of gleaming steel, others white screen). Inside the panels, coloured spots create the focal point for the room’s lighting. Behind the bar, a 75-foot-long-by-12-foot-high wall, covered in Peter Max-like art, boasts four circular holes reminiscent of the Yellow Submarine. The wall is also equipped with LED systems that project films of the Beatles and other video media using a double-mirror system. Guests also add to the artwork in the space, thanks to the inclusion of special interactive tables. Using their fingers, guests scribble on the glass table tops. The scribbles can be erased with a sweep of the hand, but the best are electronically captured by staff members called “consuls,” who use related technology to turn the marks into graffiti and project them onto the lounge’s central column.

Seating throughout is white or pale pink, in keeping with the overall theme of the space, and generally low in profile, particularly in areas away from walls or bar counters. Some seating emulates a long and winding road, as seen in some of the banquettes, while other options have decidedly straight lines. Side lounges offer similar seating options.

While Cardinal and her team have reason to be proud of the final result, there is also an underlying pride in having worked closely on the project with so many Montreal tradespeople. “All of the furniture, steel panels, ceramic walls, everything was made in Montreal and shipped to the site in Las Vegas,” Cardinal says. “After a year and a half of work, six months of building, it was amazing to have that first drink in the space. It worked!” cI