Those that live in blackout-prone areas don't keep their flashlights in the back of a drawer. Instead it's in some easily-accessible place, so they don't have to fumble around looking for it when the lights go out.
UK-based lighting manufacturer iViTi reckons they've solved this with their LED iViTi ON, a lightbulb they'll begin manufacturing next month. It's simple and clever: It's got your standard Edison screw base and roughly the same form factor as a standard lightbulb, along with an internal battery that stores juice. So when the power goes out and the bulb stops receiving wired electricity, it switches over to the battery to provide an extra three hours of light.
Another consumer they should target: Deadbeats who don't pay their electricity bills on time.
Posted by Anki Delfmann
| 26 Jan 2015
Corinna Sy and Sebastian Daeschle from cucula
Every January, the international furniture and interiors show IMM Cologne covers a vast area of exhibition space along the Rhine with more than 1,200 exhibitors showing their work to over 120,000 visitors. While parts of the show can become a little monotonous after looking at the umpteenth copper light shade, faux-vintage table or stylized bathtub, the Pure Talents group in Hall 1 is a collection of exciting ideas by schools and young designers.
This year's outstanding projects represented a broad range of design innovation—explorations of new ways of construction or materiality, applying design processes for social change, or reinterpreting the user experience of neglected everyday objects—work that reached beyond the idea of furniture as detached glossy object.
A beautiful design-led approach to help refugees help themselves comes from cucula, above, in Berlin. Corinna Sy and Sebastian Daeschle have launched this pilot project together with five young refugees from West Africa. Having survived the dangerous journey from their home countries, refugees arriving in Germany without residence or work permits are often forced into passivity. Cucula aims to build the foundation for self-determined living. Rather than a process to be 'administered,' it is an association, a workshop and an educational program all rolled into one. The refugees all become part of a group, all learn German, and all learn to build furniture;mdash;not only for themselves but also to sell and in turn, finance the program.
They are currently building the 'DIY' furniture program 'Autoprogettazione' by Enzo Mari, who has granted cucula the design rights. The furniture also works as a memorial to the origin of the project, telling the stories of the refugees by partly reusing materials from the boats they came to Europe on. Cucula has just finished one of the biggest crowdfunding drives to ever take place on the German platform startnext, raising a whopping 123,000 Euros.
Our favorite school exhibition this year also came from the German capital. Universitaet der Kuenste Berlin (UDK) presented 15 final projects from the product design faculty.
Fynn Freyschmidt has developed a 'pneumatic knit' for his material project On Air. When inflated, the loops compress and cause the structure to harden. Chapeau, above, shows a possible application of the material for bike helmets. When not in use, the helmet can be deflated for easy transportation.
Posted by Anki Delfmann
| 22 Jan 2015
Klanglichter by Onat Hekimogulu and Tobias Kreter
Our first stop during Cologne's design week is Passagen, a collection of 190 exhibitions scattered throughout the north part of the city. Off the beaten path for people who are more used to strolling through more established hubs and brands, the chilly walk lead us to some unusual venues and reused spaces. Our favorite exhibition was held in an empty, glass-fronted shop space in the brutalist concrete underground station of Ebertplatz. LABOR: Design n+1 by Köln International School of Design showed some experimental objects and lighting, exploring the boundaries of art, design and research.
Klanglichter, above, is a laser harp that combines gamification and music-making. The Arduino-based audiovisual interactive installation was designed by Onat Hekimogulu and Tobias Kreter. Fueled by the will to hit targets on a projection on the wall, visitors play the laser harp to create new compositions.
Binary Talk by Niklas Isselburg and Jakob Kilian transforms the ASCII data of a word into binary code, which is then translated into a smoke signal sent off through the air by a subwoofer. We loved this experimental approach to uncover hidden processes of modern communication. The project combines advanced technology and one of the oldest forms of long distance transmission, the smoke signal. Light sensors in the recipient module detect the binary smoke puffs, which are translated back into ASCII code on a second computer. Mistakes in interpretation caused by a breeze in the room remind us of the telephone game, and the accuracy we have come to expect in modern means of communication.
My first New Year's resolution for 2015 is to re-use more old things. And the guys over at Berlin-based Urban Light Factory already have the jump on me. First off their products come to you in wooden boxes made out of scrap and cut-offs:
Secondly is what's inside the boxes--unique, vintage-looking lamps created from the headlights of old vehicles.
Taken from junked cars, motorcycles and even farm tractors, the headlamps are turned into tripod-based work lamps or hanging pendants.
For her "Making Studio" course at SVA's Products of Design program, designer Louise-Anne van 't Riet came up with a neat side table that encourages you to be neat. Called Infinitum, it's an object-sensitive side table ringed with LEDs beneath the surface; though the lights only run one layer deep, a combination of a mirror and a one-way mirror provide the infinity effect.
An Arduino sensor in the table picks up the vibration of an object being placed atop it, which kicks the lights on. The designer "wanted to construct a piece of furniture for people who never tidy up, and who leave their belongings everywhere. When objects are placed on the table, it lights up.... Users are encouraged to tidy up before they leave a room, since the light table will only switch off once everything is removed from its surface."
Hit the jump to see video of the table in action, and how she put it together:
Philippe Starck is known for eclecticism, so perhaps we oughtn't be surprised that his latest design is in a category of its own. The Chapo, as it's called, is a combination lamp and hat-stand.
The aluminum lamp is well modern, with LED illumination, an optical dimmer in the base (that little orange button you see) and a USB socket for charging your phone; then it goes old-school by providing an X-shaped flange for your lid. The hat itself then becomes the lampshade.
If you're a guy or gal who wears lots of hats, then yes, you've got a variety of looks for your desk lamp. And when hat-less, the lamp does not give off glare as the LEDs are downward-pointing and located on the bottom of the X.
I think the thing all of us are wondering is how he thought of this in the first place. The only explanation comes from manufacturer Flos' website: "When Alec Guinness, James Stewart and Fred Astaire got home in the evening, with a sharp and elegant gesture they would throw their hat onto anything within reach," reads the quote attributed to Starck. "So why not a lamp?"
It seems absurd to be burning energy by using lightbulbs while the sun is shining, but buildings can only have so many windows, and sunlight can only penetrate so far. MIT's Solar Bottle Bulb and Ross Lovegrove's Sun Tunnel are two ways to get sunlight inside, but both solutions require piercing a roof for installation. This new system called the Light Bandit, in contrast, is a no-construction-required solution. And it's brilliant:
"Sunlight is the fuel that powers all life on Earth, yet our lifestyles block most of it out," the developers write. "Between work, school and home we spend most of our time indoors under artificial lighting that lacks important benefits of natural lighting. The Light Bandit changes that."
What's fascinating is that the coating on the reflectors filters out UV and infrared, delivering only visible light; this means you won't fade out the part of your couch that's got a Light Bandit lamp over it.
The Light Bandit Kickstarter is no foregone conclusion, by the way; these guys need help and publicity. At press time they'd clocked under six grand out of a $200,000 target, and there's just 21 days left to go. But we've seen less impressive projects hit higher targets in a shorter stretch of time, so we're hoping this product becomes a reality.
We've periodically covered Big Ass Fans (here and here), the Kentucky-based company that shrewdly changed their name from High Volume Low Speed Fan Company. Due to their no-nonsense marketing approach, the efficient, sturdy design of their product and periodic design refreshes, they've grown into something like the Dyson of overhead air movement systems. And now they've moved into a new product category, with another line of overhead-mounted objects: Big Ass Lights.
So here we see how selling directly to customers can help a company develop new products: Direct feedback, which would likely get lost or mangled if filtered through a distributor middleman. By interacting directly with customers and visiting their facilities, the company is in a position to overhear their needs—and gripes. "One we heard over and over again: employers' once-bright lights now glowed a dim yellow, making it difficult for workers to do their jobs and forcing maintenance teams to constantly replace bulbs," the company writes. "Those inefficient bulbs also kept energy costs high."
Seeing an opportunity, they then hired new talent, adding lighting experts to their stable of engineers. The resultant design of their LED-sporting Big Ass Light isn't actually that physically big—the smaller model's a little over three feet in length, and the larger model just under four—but the company reckons they've created "The last light you'll buy," as it's energy-efficient, well-designed and durable.
The main body of the light is an aluminum extrusion, finned to serve as a heat sink:
As beautiful as Edison Light Globes' bulbs are, it is their lamp designs that really shine, if you'll pardon the pun. The company's deep line-up of fixtures are heavy on brass and exposed hardware, yielding steampunkish pieces like this Multi Bulb Heavy Table Lamp with adjustable neck:
You've seen lamps made with plumbing fixtures before—we showed you some here and here--but you've never seen any quite like ELG's Plumbing Pipe Wall Lamp:
Another wall lamp of theirs that it's hard not to love is this Bronze Medium Bulb Cage Upright Wall Lamp:
LEDs are the wave of the future, but plenty of folks aren't ready to give up Edison-style filament bulbs for their classic aesthetic. What's a manufacturer to do? in the case of Australia-based Edison Light Globes, the answer is to make both.
For those that need to see a burning wire, they make classically-shaped bulbs like this E26/27 Edison:
If globes are more your thing, they've got you covered:
Not feeling the spiral? No problem, they've got tungsten "squirrel cage" filaments as well:
Not to mention less typical bulb shapes:
In "Things We'd Like to See: Subway Stations with Better Lighting" we showed you Paris' gorgeous Arts et Metier metro stop and a conceptual design for a sunlit underground station. But since then little has been done in the real world to change subway lighting.
Little, but not nothing. This week a video emerged showing that the UK's Network Rail has installed blue LED lighting on parts of platforms at Gatwick Airport. They're following Japan's lead, as that nation began installing blue LED lighting on Tokyo platforms in 2009--to combat the nation's high suicide rate. (We Americans should recall that in countries without as many firearms as we have, jumping in front of a train is the method of choice for those looking to take their own lives.) It's thought that blue light "has a calming effect on agitated people, or people obsessed with one particular thing, which in this case is committing suicide," as a therapist at the Japan Institute of Color Psychology put it.
Beyond that, Network Rail is hoping the blue lights will influence everything from circadian rhythms to crime figures:
Posted by Ray
| 5 Nov 2014
Now that jack-o-lantern season is behind us, we can look forward to two months of bacchanalian gluttony can begin (followed, of course, by the guilt and sobriety of yet another new year). But if you miss the warm glow of foodstuffs that have been 'creatively repurposed' as lamps, Japanese designer Yukiko Morita has a trick—or is that a treat?—in store for you. Exhibited at Tokyo Designers Week, her "Pampshades" give new meaning to burning carbs. These luminous loaves are made are indeed made from flour, salt and yeast... and LEDs "and more." They're reportedly covered in resin, though it's hard to discern the crustiness-vs.-doughiness factor of what is normally a perishable product.
As the story goes, Morita worked in a bakery in her native Kyoto eight years ago, subsquently graduating from the Kyoto University of Arts in 2008 and reportedly launching Pampshades as early as 2010 (the name is a portmanteau of 'pan'—French for bread, derived from the Latin panem—and lampshade). The brief timeline on her website further notes that the first prototype dates back to 2007 and that she relocated to Kobe as of this year.
Washi is a type of old-school paper made in Japan. Plant pulp and water are mixed and collected on screens, and after drying, fresh sheets of the stuff are pulled off. Though tissue-like in appearance, washi is reasonably tough, making its long production time worth the wait.
It's typically made in sheets, which can subsequently be pasted together to make three-dimensional shapes; you've undoubtedly seen it rendered into lampshades. But a company in western Japan called Taniguchi Aoya Washi has figured out how to make the stuff 3D from the get-go, right out of the bath. This "Seamless Three-Dimensional Washi" eliminates the exposed edges that come from connecting multiple sheets, and TAW is the only company in Japan that knows how to make the stuff.
"Everything can be a lamp with LumiLor," writes Darskide Scientific, the company that developed it. LumiLor is a patented coating that glows when a current is applied to it. (And yes, it's safe to touch, as it's sealed and insulated.) The brilliance of the system is that since it's water-based, you can load it up into any paintspraying system or airbrush and you're off to the races. Here's how the process is applied:
We've seen drones used or proposed for package delivery, elaborate selfies, action sports capture, movie promotion, and even weather control. But a recent creative collaboration points to the possibility of a more domestic usage that we think could be the killer drone app of the future: How about floating lamps? Which is to say, just the lampshade and a light source, no stem, no cable, hovering in mid-air, able to follow you around the room if need be.
In the video below you'll see what it would look like, but before it becomes domesticated, there are just a few (completely solveable) technological hurdles to clear:
Noise. To cancel out the incessant whining of a hovering drone, a small on-board speaker could project a noise cancellation frequency.
Power. During the daytime, the drone could dock itself, perhaps to something attached to the ceiling, where it would recharge the batteries required for both the light and its own sustained flight. (Ideally the power would come from solar, so you're not wasting a bunch of coal-fired juice on an admittedly frivolous technology.)
User Interaction. Remote control, gesture control or voice activation could turn it on and off, adjust the brightness and hue, and ask the lamp to follow you around or focus light on a particular area.
At any rate, a floating lamp would give you one less thing to vacuum around, if replacing a floor lamp, and free up some table space if replacing a desk lamp.
Maybe it sounds silly but it looks beautiful in practice. Check out this sweet video created in a collaboration between performance group Cirque du Soleil, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and drone developer Verity Studios:
Don't let the bland name of Scottish start-up Design LED Products fool you. At last year's Lux Live 2013 lighting exhibition, DLP showed off the flexible resin-based LED tile you see above, considered to be a potential game-changer in lighting design. The tiles are flexible, modular, inexpensive, highly efficient (roughly 90%), can emit light on one or both sides, and "can be produced in any shape or size up to 1m, offering up to 20,000 lumen per square meter," according to the press release. They also do not require external "thermal management," i.e. bulky heat sinks.
Well, someone noticed, and that someone was IKEA. Today it was reported that Ikea's GreenTech venture capital division plunked down an undisclosed sum to invest in the company, giving them access to the light tiles for their presumed inclusion in future product designs. "The tiles are unique as they are extremely thin, flexible and low cost and can be seamlessly joined together in exciting new designs," IKEA said in a statement. "The partnership is a clear strategic fit for IKEA and our goal to make living sustainably affordable and attractive for millions of people."
While you can still buy halogens and CFLs at IKEA today, by the way, the company is reportedly planning to switch exclusively to LEDs by September of 2015.
Anyone want to take a guess at what they'll be designing with these? Kitchen wall cabinets with these tiles on the undersides seem like the obvious choice, but those would be flat; I'm most curious to see how they'd exploit the curvability of the technology.
Posted by erika rae
| 16 Jul 2014
An installation at Kingwood Medical in Houston, Texas
For those of us who live on the top floors of the pre-war walk-up buildings that line the streets of certain New York neighborhoods, a skylight can be a perk—not enough to make up for the five flights of stairs, perhaps, but at very least a welcome source of light. But the upshot of a skylight isn't just illumination: Not only has it been scientifically proven that natural light boosts productivity levels, it's also good for morale and mental health. Unfortunately, most office buildings weren't designed with white collar vitamin D deficiency in mind. This is where Sky Factory comes into play with their "embedded" skylights.
The impact of Revelation SkyCeiling in an office space
Sky Factory is based in Fairfield, Iowa—and take it from an Iowa native, no one knows the big blue better than the those of us who live against a backdrop of never-ending corn fields. The cerulean ceiling projections are designed to produce psychophysiological relaxation responses. In other words, the simulated natural light may well get you through that moment of midday work panic or waiting room purgatory.
Measuring in at 8’×8’, the company's recently launched Revelation SkyCeiling features their biggest panels to date. The light is comprised of four layers: a fluorescent lighting system, an acrylic tile featuring a photographic reproduction of the sky, "elevators" that gives the system structural depth into the ceiling, and a customized ceiling grid to top it all off (see the exploded view of a similar product here). While diaphanous clouds and a blue sky are a given, scenes can also include sunlit trees, which fauna-deprived New Yorkers might appreciate more than anything.
The COSEM Auber reception lounge in Paris, France
Posted by erika rae
| 28 May 2014
Photo by Alex Welsh
The white walls of INTRO/NY made for the perfect display space for the venue's ample lighting designs. All of the weekend's shows had a good mix of design genres, but lighting fixtures—from wire task lamps to magnetic standing tube varieties—seemed to be on Smallpond founder Paul Valentine's mind as he curated this pop-up boutique at the Openhouse space located at 201 Mulberry in Soho. Lucky for me, I can describe one of my favorite design topics in one, overused movie buzz-phrase: "I love lamp." Needless to say, I felt right at home among Valentine's picks.
At the bottom of the stairs into the main gallery space, Canadian design studio Castor's minimalist tube lamps immediately caught my eye. Co-founder Brian Rich turned out to be a delightfully snarky conversationalist as he walked me through the product selection. Castor—which, as their business card states in bold, "is French for Beaver"—offered a wide selection of finishes, technology and styles available to take in. The most fun to play with came in the form of a magnetic tube light that lit up once the LED bulb is connected with the base (pictured below).
Castor's "Induction Tube Light" (left) and "Conic Section Pendant Light" (right)
Meanwhile, my companion, a photographer, gravitated toward Castor's "Reflector Floor Lamp." Upon first glance, you'd assume it's a misplaced piece of photography equipment with its golden light umbrella looks.
Castor's "Reflector Floor Lamp" // Photo by Alex Welsh
Castor's "Recycled Tube Light"
Summer sunlight can change my mood, and I don't suffer from seasonal affective disorder. It's hard to ignore the positive feeling one gets from sunlight streaming through a window. Soon you'll be able to bring sunshine to any cloudy day and even into a dark windowless cave. Or even better, you'll be able to have a "sky light" on the ceiling of a non-top-floor space of a building.
Researchers in Italy have created a lighting panel that uses nanoparticles to create nearly natural daylight. This is much better than fluorescents; think about daylight coming into dark subways or windowless offices.
It starts with white LEDs. But the magic comes from a clear plastic panel filled with titanium oxide nanoparticles that can mimic the way Earth's atmosphere scatters sunlight. Different panels can offer different kinds of sunlight—from super bright to twilight.
Posted by erika rae
| 28 Apr 2014
As the seasons are changing, there's no better time to introduce a little bit of the outdoors to your indoor decor. Some of may choose flowers or houseplants, but Pudelskern designer Horst Philipp has created something for those looking for something a little, ehm, different. Introducing: His lamp, Heumandl ("Hayman" in English), which features alpine hay and flowers. Obviously enough, allergy-ridden design aficionados, beware.
The design is inspired by the same-named haystacks found scattered among the fields of Austria's Tyrol. While the photos have the lamp featured in the great outdoors, I'd bet the fleeting shadows would fit in right at home indoors on a huge, blank wall.
3D-print-happy designer Michiel Cornelissen is at it again. To create his clever ZooM lampshade, Cornelissen has adopted the trick we first saw Sklyar Tibbits messing around with, where you print something small and made out of interlocking pieces that can then be stretched out to occupy a greater volume. In this case, gravity does the work for you.
Created as a programmable object in generative design software, ZooM has a structure created from hundreds of repeating elements that together form a series of interlocking spirals.
3-d printing allows this pentagonal lampshade to be manufactured flat and completely assembled; folded out, it's flexible like a textile, while maintaining its form like a rigid product. The semi-transparent structure shields the bulb's glare, while transmitting light efficiently.
Cornelissen is selling them in two sizes, a 20-cm and 28-cm version. And as cool as it looks in blue, at press time it was only available in black or white.
Posted by Moa Dickmark
| 2 Apr 2014
A few years ago, I saw a picture of a desk that captured my eye. I can't remember exactly where I saw it—perhaps it was this very blog—I just remember not being able to stop thinking about it. I searched the Internet to find out who had created this lovely desk and ended up on the website of Manoteca. Now, when I see something that I like, I have to tell the person who is behind it that I like their creation (or what they are wearing, or what they are singing, or what they are drawing, etc.) Call it what you will, OCD if you wish.
So I found the e-mail address for the person behind the brand, and it turned out to be a young woman called Elisa. Since then, we haven't written much, but my curiosity for the person and the visions behind the brand is still there. So, here comes the second article about young ambitious entrepreneurs working within the creative field.
Core77: What led you to start Manoteca?
Elisa Cavani: Before creating Manoteca, I was working as a visual merchandiser for fashion companies, for more or less ten years. I traveled a lot and gained a lot of information. In those ten years, I met very respectable people with so much talent. Yet the structure of big companies crushed them—I saw many people forget the things they believed in and give up any kind of talent. I was scared because I could feel that it was happening to me as well, so I decided to "fire" myself and create something that I had had in my head for so long.
This was the beginning. I moved the furniture in my apartment and for a year I worked, lived and slept in the middle of tools and sawdust. To me, the pieces of my first collection represent the freedom of expression. I loved them so much. I spent my evenings watching them, cleaning them one by one, every single hole and crack in the material. I really treated them as if they were the most valuable things I owned. In fact, they still are.
Did your ten years of experience as a merchandiser have any influence on how you started your brand?
I didn't think so initially, then I thought again and came up with a better answer. The visual merchandisers work with the visual language, they communicate feelings and moods but cannot use words. There is so much of this in Manoteca. There is a maniacal attitude, for which everything have to be perfect, and a meticulous attention to every detail. There is the organization and optimization of the time. There are the administrative and commercial skills, which I unwittingly absorbed and modified in favor of the brand. There is the knowledge of foreign markets that I have followed for a long time, the awareness that every person have different habits and cultural characteristics that you need to know, otherwise it is impossible to communicate. There are errors that I have made in the past, from which I can benefit today. There is a predisposition for solid and professional structure, which hasallowed the project to go around the world.
In retrospect, I should say 'Thank You' to my past.
Posted by Moa Dickmark
| 27 Mar 2014
This is the beginning of an interview series about young entrepreneurs around the globe working within the creative fields such as photography, product design, fashion and music just to mention a few.
Below you find the very first interview which is about Jonas Hojgaard and his up and coming Danish furniture brand Nordic Tales. It all started with the lamp Bright Sprout and have grown exponentially ever since. If you want to know more after reading this little interview, you will find him in Milan during the furniture fair April 7–13.
Core77: What inspired you to start Nordic Tales?
Jonas Hojgaard: Nordic Tales is the product of an idea about that it is possible to handle the whole range, from idea to development to sale, as a designer! You don't have to wait for somebody to approve or disapprove your ideas to realise them! A design business put in the world, mainly and primarily to contribute with aesthetics and secondly to earn money will have a set of values that the general business man can't compete with.
What would you say are the values that define Nordic Tales?
We are storytellers just as much as we are designers. We try to contribute with products that you can influence and give your own touch. We grant you with "the power to design!"
Maybe the fascination about this remodeling / customizable thing comes from all the years I spent playing with Lego as a kid, or maybe I'm just curious.
When I design, I always try to achieve some complexity, to make it more than what it is! My ultimate goal is to do this and then hide it and let you discover the products' true features—it surprises you and gives you that very special "A-ha!" feeling!
Besides this, my goal is always to make something that you can't really describe why you like. The design should be a sum of many small details, balanced so that none outshines the other. The experience of the design should resolve in an emotion that you like and not any particular characteristics that you can point out.
I find it much more challenging to achieve this in design than in, say, photography. Design is more difficult especially because it has to be producible on a large scale. Photography is much easier since it consists mostly of visual parameters.
Posted by erika rae
| 26 Mar 2014
Fifti Fifti's Take-Off Light is fitting for two kinds of people: the DIY-inclined and those with a habit of poking holes through paper. You know who I'm talking about—the people who can't keep their hands from haphazardly crumpling and drowsily stabbing scratch paper with pens during meetings (guilty as charged). This steel-and-paper lamp makes our lethargic tendency look good—all it takes is a steady hand and some design sense.
Posted by erika rae
| 12 Mar 2014
While the days of scratchy television channels and sending the man of the house up to tinker around with the reception antenna are nearly obsolete—thanks to the likes of Netflix and Hulu—there are still ways to enjoy the inconveniences of the past. The Antenna Light by Joy Charbonneau is one of those things. Not only is it much easier on the eyes, but it won't send you tumbling to the yard with a split second of unsure footing.
Posted by erika rae
| 13 Jan 2014
The Global Data Chandelier—a big name for an equally sizable installation (physically and in theory)—is more of an infographic of sorts than anything else. Created for the Center for Strategic and International Studies' new headquarters in Washington D.C. by Sosolimited, Hypersonic Engineering & Design, Plebian Design and Chris Parlato, the chandelier consists of 425 hanging, low-res pendants that brighten and dim in a synchronized patterns to display different data points—GDP growth rate, renewable water resources and energy consumption, to name a few.
From directly below, it'll only take a moment to grasp the contours of the map, which shifts into different arrangements as you view it from different angles. Check out this video of the installation at work: