Berlin's Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus is refitted with ERCO's LED retail lighting

Nov. 19, 2015
Established almost two decades ago, Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus in Berlin is now in the process of upgrading its in-store design experience. At the heart of its modernised concept is a new LED retail lighting system with advanced ERCO lighting tools.

Describing itself as a department store selling culture, Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus on Berlin’s Friedrichstraße has become an institution of sorts – firmly established as a fixture in the city’s cultural landscape, it is, as well, a popular destination for shoppers. Opened in 1997 the store boasts a wide array of books, CDs, DVDs and sheet music on around 7,000sqm divided over five floors. Unaffected by the current trend in retail business, the KulturKaufhaus is proud of a good growth rate, encouraging its management to decide that the time had come to upgrade the store’s interior. Light was to be central to the new concept.

As planning got under way in 2013, several lighting suppliers were invited to present their design solution on site in a mock-up. In the end, it was the quality and guaranteed longevity of ERCO's luminaires for LED retail lighting, as well as their quick availability if ever substitutes were needed, that tipped the scales in favour of ERCO. The significant investment costs would easily be compensated by the efficiency of the ERCO lighting solution, explains Julia Claren, Managing Director of the KulturKaufhaus.

Read-intensive merchandise – a challenge for the lighting concept
The refurbishment of Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus provided a challenge that required creativity and gave rise to a differentiated LED retail lighting concept. Her main concern, says Julia Claren, was to use light to create a pleasant ambience for customers and staff, but also to prioritise the presentation of merchandise on the shop floor. Books and CDs, she explains, are products that shoppers like to examine and this must be possible without tiring influences. The right setting ensures that customers find what they need easily and feel welcome to browse. A critical aspect, therefore, was optimised visual comfort to facilitate reading, requiring light that offers precise colour rendering, efficient glare control and a consistent colour temperature. Ms. Claren also wanted the light in the store to subdivide the extensive space by defining separate zones that facilitate orientation and create hierarchies of attention.

With this in mind, the lighting concept was based on vertical illuminance to achieve optimal illumination of the considerable shelf space. Dynamic accent lighting with efficient ERCO spot and oval flood distribution sets off individual zones and merchandise displays. All throughout the store, the concept deploys just three luminaire ranges: Light Board and Logotec as well as Quintessence downlights. Each luminaire emits a pleasant, warm white light.

A quantum leap: From monotonous light to perception-orientated illumination
The new LED retail lighting at Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus is clearly a huge step forward, as the temporary, parallel operation of old and new lighting systems revealed during the renovation project. In its previous design, the KulturKaufhaus had followed the principle of brightness at all cost, resulting in diffuse and insufficiently differentiated light that failed to set off the diversity of products in all their detail. The new concept, meanwhile, enables a controlled use of light, illuminating only and precisely the target surfaces with optimised illuminance levels as well as superior light quality. As well as demonstrating once more the power of light to draw attention instinctively onto the products, the meticulously aimed light contributes to a pleasant, almost homely atmosphere in the upgraded store.

Julia Claren insists that her expectations in regard to the new results have been “met to the fullest extent”. Once the renovations are finished, she adds, “I believe we will be the first department store in Germany to complete the migration to LED technology.” A pioneering role that leaves Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus with a sense of achievement, and rightly so.

Project data
Project: Culture Department Store Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus GmbH, Berlin / Germany
Client: Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus GmbH, Berlin / Germany
Concept and design: ROBERTNEUN Architekten, Berlin / Germany
Interior architecture: Annika Becker and Ladislaus von Fraunberg,
Berlin / Germany

Products: Light Board, Logotec, Quintessence
Photo credit: ERCO GmbH,, Photo: Rudi Meisel

About ERCO
The ERCO Light Factory in the German town of Lüdenscheid is a leading international specialist in architectural lighting using LED technology. The family business, founded in 1934, now operates as a global player with independent sales organisations and partners in 55 countries worldwide. Since 2015 ERCO’s portfolio has been 100% LED. Inspired by “light digital” as its leitmotif, ERCO in Lüdenscheid develops, designs and produces digital luminaires with focus on photometrics, electronics and design. Working closely with architects, lighting designers and engineers, ERCO develops lighting tools used primarily for applications in the following fields: Work, Shop, Culture, Community, Hospitality, Living, Public and Contemplation. ERCO understands digital light as the fourth dimension of architecture – providing highly precise and efficient lighting solutions to support creative designers in turning their visions into reality.

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Nina Reetzke, Press Officer - ERCO GmbH