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Light the Carnivore Restaurant on Fire

ClientThe Carnivore, Nairobi, Kenya

DateFall 2013

This semester-long, service learning project was to design a new look for the infamous Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya. After detailed research on Kenyan culture, a concept of fire was chosen and all design decisions were centered around the idea of fire.


“Kuni zikikosa, moto huzimika.”

“If firewood is lacking, the fire dies. An organization without a leader cannot survive.”
-Swahilli Proverb


When you really think about it, fire is abstract. It is the glow of a warm sensation, rushing through your heart, the passion of a goal you wish to achieve, the tingling of heat against your skin, the mixture of red, orange, and yellow. It can make you feel safe, keeping you warm through a bonfire, or it can make you feel endangered, when it has a mind of its own and you can’t control it.

The infamous Carnivore Nairobi as a restaurant embodies the concept and importance of fire. The iconic grill at the entrance is the heart of the place as their specialty is barbequed meats served on large swords. Their logo is the literal imagery of flames, reminding all of the Carnivore grill and food. In redesigning the infamous Carnivore, the objectivewas to make the entire restaurant truly embody the power of fire.

The lighting design is imperative to conveying the concept of fire throughout the space. As you approach the restaurant, you walk through an outdoor arcade that is lit with in-ground compact LED Boca 650 fixtures from Lumiere that alternate red and orange lamps to accent and graze up the arcade columns and around curved wooden decorative room dividers on the interior. Cooper’s Ametrix LC32 linear strips are detailed into the casework to backlight the 3-form panels of the receptionist, cashier, DJ station, and bar counter. Another product from Acultye LED lighting incorporated in the space are flexible LED Side illuminating lighting with a programmable DMX technology to create a flicker grazing the cove above the grill. . This technology incorporates a color-changing feature that is programmed to make the usual orange-yellowish lights flare up into red colored flame much like the changing light of a real fire. Decorative pendants that embrace the concept with their “flame” feature are used throughout the dining areas. These aluminum finished, cylinder shaped luminaires from v2lighting have a flame-like design on the side that is literal but subtle enough to give the space a flare. Finally, the general lighting in the space are simple MR16 tungsten-halogen recessed downlights that provide a warm color temperature. Outdoor courtyard dining posed a design problem as there is no ceiling or roof above many of the dining tables. To solve this problem, suspended Litesphere LED strands that luminate looking like white, red, and orange sparks in the night sky were strung over the tables.

Overall, lighting in the new Carnivore restaurant redesign creates an environment that embodies a fire. Customers coming to the restaurant to have dinner will be greeted with a warm atmosphere that will make the eating experience truly a fiery experience enhancing the food and fellowship.

This project also won the Student category for Eaton’s 37th Annual Cooper SOURCE Awards. To see the winning lighting design project, click here. Press release to be found on the Press page of this website.