This week Casafina were lucky enough to be invited to the Retail Week Enterprise Awards 2014 at the Grosvenor House Hotel. With the UK being home to some of the best retail innovation and inspiring companies in the world, the talent exhibited at this event all have the potential to take their place alongside the greats.

But it was the winner of the Best Store Design Award 2014 that really caught our eye – the Samba Swirl transformation by Mizzi Studios. The self-service frozen yoghurt chain, Samba Swirl, has developed a vibrant attitude towards food via social interaction. Together they’ve incorporated the fun and rhythm of a Brazilian carnival straight to the streets of Camden via lighting, architecture and ergonomics.

So we jumped at the chance to grab 10 minutes of Jonathan Mizzi’s time, the founder of Mizzi studios to gain some valuable insight into the workings of his studio.



1. What inspired you to become an architect and subsequently found Mizzi Studios?

I wanted to pursue a creative career and a BA in Architecture seemed a good starting point, but I was never necessarily set on becoming an architect.

I am fascinated by Sci-Fi, so after my Architecture BA I decided to explore my ideas through digital set design at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in LA and VFX at Escape Studios in London

It was an exciting and extremely creative time, but I reaslised I ultimately wanted to create tangible environments, so completed my architecture studies.


2. Your client book boasts a plethora of established brands across a wide range of sectors, what do you credit with your success?

We are a multi-disciplinary studio and have talented designers from various backgrounds, industrial engineers, industrial designers, architects and interior designers so we are able to look at our projects from many different angles and come up with 360o solutions.

Mizzi Studios also prides itself in progression and innovation in designing the built environment

We listen to our clients’ dreams, which are then explored and rigorously tested through the use of the best technologies and techniques required to make their projects a reality.



3. One of your studio’s expertise is ‘fusing architecture with light’ is interesting – how do you approach lighting buildings through architecture?

Lighting is important as it helps spaces to express themselves, so our approach really varies depending on the space, the client’s needs and how specialist the job is. However, we always visualise the projects virtually in 3D on the computer. We produce animations for the client to understand how the lighting is going to work and present this alongside physical samples.



When designing the lighting scheme for Samba Swirl the whole store environment is vibrant with bright painted walls and reflective finishes.

We did not want any dark shadows, so we made a conscious decision that the ambient light level was to be high with dramatic colour changing slashes through the architecture.

The animated colour changing light has now become a signature style for Samba Swirl


4. How has lighting come into play with your award-winning Samba Swirl design?

For Samba Swirl, Camden our brief was to create a space that embodies the energy of the brand, as well as strongly differentiating the brand from its competitors on the overcrowded high street.

Inspired by carnival spirit and the vibrantly geometric painted facades of the favelas in Rio De Janeiro the lighting scheme has been designed to bring the fun loving connotations of Brazilian Carnival into a modern engaging contextwhilst avoiding the frozen yoghurt clichés of cold and soft visual connections

The core design concept is centralised around the lighting. Animated linear lines of LED light which emanate from every plane of the store; walls, floors, ceilings, out and lipping up on to the front fascia. Multiple rhythms have been composed into the scenes with slow pulsing intervals in between those more animated, constantly refreshing the element of surprise in a subtle manner.



Working simultaneously as the stores main design feature, the pulsating LED also functions as a wayfinder system that pulls you in from the street and directs you around the store taking you on a fantastical, colourful, animated, frozen yoghurt voyage.


5. Where, apart from Mizzi studios clients, do you believe lighting through architecture has been executed the best and worst?

The worst light, for me, are spaces illuminated by fluorescent white light. Light is very emotive and it makes the space and everything in it cold, lifeless and sterile.



Kunsthaus Graz in Austria coined the ‘Friendly Alien’, is the best example where lighting through architecture has been executed. The building is really as sci-fi as you can get. It has an organic shape with a skin made of iridescent blue acrylic panels.

At night Kunsthaus Graz glows by way of a computerised lighting system beneath the transparent skin. It can be described as a perfect blend between architecture, art, media and lighting technology.


6. In what ways has your store design broadened the Samba Swirl’s customer base?

The Samba Swirl ‘experience’ of a total in-store immersion drives the brand and although the target market is 16-39 year olds, the goal was to create an environment that was so engaging that it appeals to all ages. Lighting further enhances the innovative self-service frozen yoghurt experience when infra-red sensors sitting astride the pump handles trigger a myriad of pulsing LED lights around the store, creating excitement and an opportunity to lift the mood.


The interactive lighting has had an immediate impact on Samba’s appeal, widening it to a greater demographic, including more men as customers


7. How do you keep ahead of the trends to continue to produce cutting edge architecture?

Continuous Research & Development and staying abreast with modern day technology enables us to continue to produce cutting edge architecture.


Also, the recruitment of both experienced designers and fresh young students creates a dynamic studio environment.

Travel is also very important – we encourage everyone at Mizzi Studios to go out and see the world

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