Lumio is a lamp that unfolds from a book. Simply open the cover to turn it on, the further you open the cover the brighter it gets. Sounds very simple, yet the design process was nothing but.
The journey started about eight months ago when I joined TechShop SF. I came in with the ambitious idea of creating a modular house with built-in furniture that you can fold flat to fit into your car. It's the same basic concept of a lunchbox: different parts of a meal packaged in a portable container. Except that it's a home-in-a-box that you can carry around and pop open easily.
My vision was to build a modular home for the modern nomad with all of the conveniences we are accustomed to. It didn't quite turn out the way I envisioned it, but through that design exploration, I ended up with a modified version of the same design concept, on a much smaller scale.
What does a foldable house have to do with Lumio? Although they share the same underlying design principles of a folding structure, physically they are nothing alike. Lumio was created out of necessity because I didn't have the resources to build a working prototype for the folding house. I had to adapt my idea and scale it down into something more manageable.
I had these paper models and sketches of the folding house in my Moleskine sketchbook. It dawned on me one day that a book would be a great way to package this idea of a collapsible light fixture: it's compact, it has a visceral connection with the idea of a book as a "source of illumination," and it has that unexpected element of surprise.
We always think that innovation happens when you have all the freedom and tools you need. In my case, it came together out of limitation. I was able to make the best use out of what I have.
Photo of Moleskine study model
I arrived at the concept for Lumio around September 2012. My first prototype was cobbled together out of folded paper inserted into the cover of my hardcover sketchbook. It was rough, but it was a good starting point as a proof-of-concept.
Designer Alexander Lervik is pleased to present Lumière au Chocolate, his latest project in the Lervik 100 collection, which he is presenting at this very moment in his current home of Stockholm, Sweden (the opening is tonight, February 4th, from 6–10PM at Galleri Kleerup). Produced by Scandinavian LED specialists SAAS Instruments, the uncanny chocolate ark belies a latent luminosity:
The Poetry of Light chocolate lamp, unlike other lamps, is completely dark when you first turn it on, mimicking light spreading along the horizon at sunrise. The heat from the lamp causes the chocolate to begin melting, and it takes several minutes for the first rays of light to penetrate. Holes soon form and as the light grows the chocolate melts. The material and structure of the lamp are the result of pure curiosity. Alexander Lervik wanted to explore the possibility of creating a contrast to light, i.e. dark. The shape of the lamp has been devised based on extensive testing involving the melting process.
If you're not familiar with the work of Kimou Meyer, a.k.a. Grotesk, we recommend checking out his excellent 2010 monograph. But even those of you who have never heard of the Brooklyn-based graphic designer ought to appreciate a recently-launched edition he has created for Case Studyo of Ghent, Belgium.
Limited to an edition of 23 (after Jordan, we hope) plus four artist proofs, "6FT - 6IN" is a baller lamp that is distinctive for its "blocky sneaker feet, as not only a signature Grotesk output, but also a design incubation decades in the making." Contrary to the height given in its name, the lamp measures 75cm (30 in.), or just under half the height of Mugsy Bogues, it's clearly intended to be a table lamp, featuring a cylindrical abat-jour set on skinny "string bean" legs are more Kevin Durant than LeBron. These minimalist components serve to underscore the unexpectedly playful base, featuring a classic Bulls color scheme.
Last week, I took issue with the plain rectangular box that served as the packaging for Taylor Simpson's MONIKER bicycle handlebar concept. Here, it serves as a remarkably felicitous concept: the custom packaging for "6FT - 6IN" resembles a giant shoe box—it's hard to tell from the photos, but I imagine it's upwards of three feet long—executed in custom screenprinted wood. It's a veritable triple-double of brilliant design: ten points for style, ten points for substance, plus another ten for packaging.
It's hard to believe the Times Square ball that NYC drops every New Year's used to be a five-foot affair (above) made of wood, iron and incandescent bulbs. Now, of course, it looks like this:
The iconic sphere ballooned to 12 feet in diameter, like it's chasing Indiana Jones. It also weighs a whopping 12,000 pounds, covered as it is in 12,256 Philips LED bulbs that can change color. It's also getting greener, as you'll see in the video below:
It's not the "improved chromatic yield" and the technical elements of iGuzzini's Pixel Pro recessed LED ceiling light that caught our eye; it's the thoroughly thought-out design by Massimo Iosa Ghini, the famed architect and designer.
To start with, Iosa Ghini ensured the form was beautiful in all 360 degrees, even the elegant blades of the heat sink that only the installer would get to appreciate. The installer would no doubt apppreciate the ease of his job as well, as the entire unit pops into place and locks in via two latches. (And yep, it's compatible with legacy diameters, so you don't have to buy a new hole-cutting saw.) Maintenance, too, is simplified by the easily-removeable cooling fan and reflector.
Iosa Ghini didn't forget the end user, of course; the fixture can easily be rotated downwards with 75 degrees of travel, turning the lamp into a spotlight. Check it out:
Originally hailing from Poznan, Poland, where he completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Fine Arts, Marcin Pogorzelski is currently working towards his Masters at Sweden's renowned Konstfack. His latest projects certainly express a bit of Scandinavian influence, both for their simple elegance and fluent execution.
First up, the belTable is a bit more Home Depot than IKEA (in a good way): Pogorzelski set out to "minimize every part of table and make it even easier to put together after unpacked at home." It consists of just four parts: the tabletop, legs, pegs and its signature element: a heavy-duty nylon belt.
As you might have guessed, the belTable requires no screws or glue for assembly. The belt also doubles as an ad hoc storage solutions for newspapers and magazines, as illustrated in the images.
Travel a lot? Keep weird hours? Sleep is a common problem for designers, especially those with tight deadlines and an international client base. Every designer I know has their own secret remedy for managing sleep schedules and jet lag, whether that be diets or types of music or forms of exercise.
Enter the Retimer. A special set of glasses (that can fit over regular glasses), the Retimer beams light into your eyes to help you adjust your body clock. With a simple jet lag calculator, a frequent traveller can develop a simple schedule for wearing the glasses to help him or her adjust swiftly. Other possible uses? Night workers, insomniacs and those suffering from seasonal affective disorder can all stand to benefit.
But if glasses can be effective, why not just turn on the lights? When I travel, I use the lights in my room and work studio to help me adjust quickly. When it's bright out, I use an eye mask to manage my eyes' exposure to light. This is useful because light can creep in through windows and cracks in the door. But darkness? Not as much.
Early iterations of LED-based task lamps welded the bulky armature of a spring loaded swing arm with an airy plane of illuminating diodes. Compared to the fragile bulk of an incandescent, the form factor of the arm rarely did the new technology justice.
Consequently when we first saw the loose and spindly form of the Harvey lamp by David Oxley, we were intrigued. The product specifications state that the featherweight arm comes it at just 0.3 kilos. (that's about 10 ounces to a Yank), making the five pound base seem like a ton, though I'm sure he's done the maths on the balance.
More interesting to us is the promise of a novel joint technology allowing full freedom of movement using magnets. Perhaps when supporting that little weight, you no longer need springs. Unfortunately, the schematics didn't show a cross section of the joint, so those details weren't illuminated. At 99 quid ($159), we were happy to Kickstart the project, just to receive a lamp and find out.
Designer Richard Clarkson's brings a highly detail-oriented approach to his consistently well-executed work, whether it's crafty, comfy or concept-y. As the inaugural term of SVA's Products of Design program draws to a close, Clarkson is going out with a bang with "The Cloud," a "semi-immersive lightning experience [that] introduces a new discourse for what a nightlight could be." The gauzy exterior—made from hypoallergenic fiberfill felted to an armature—of the miniature cumulus conceals its internal electronics, including lighting elements and a speaker, which are activated by controls on the Cloud's base.
In his own words:
Advances in physical computing and interaction design hardware over recent years have created a new breed of smartobjects, which are gaining more and more traction in the design world. These smartobjects have the potential to be far more interactive and immersive than ever before. And what is exciting is that it's becoming increasingly easier and cheaper to become a part of this new kind of making, with DIY and hacker community initiatives such as Maker Faire, Instrutactables and numerous others. This project aims to capture the essence of this kind of designing—where ideas and process are shared for others to use and expand upon.
The animated gif can't quite steal the thunder of the video (after the jump)...
As the founder and principal of SONIC, Klaus Rosburg develops consumer electronics and structural packaging, but he's also been known to combine these two specialties in one-off lamps from readymade and discarded objects. (He's previously crafted a chandelier from coathangers and a pendant lamp from clothespins, among other bespoke objects.)
After collecting packaging seven years' worth of packaging from his wife Cindy's contact lenses, he'd finally amassed enough of them to make his latest work, named after the Latin for jellyfish:
Visiting the current LIGHT show at the Museum of Natural History in NY and you might have seen the jellyfish with fluorescent molecule, the green fluorescent protein, or GFP. Touch these jellies, and they flash green light.
Fascinated by the glow and weightlessness, the Brooklyn-based designer drilled, arranged and connected, disconnected and rearranged hundred of the cases to capture the look and mystery of these sea creatures. 500 rivets and a few blisters later, the chains of cases were transformed into Cnidaria, Creature of Light.
Remember the LIFX, the wi-fi-enabled smart LED bulb? While its Kickstarter funding period ended two weeks ago (well past its $100,000 target with $1.3 mil in pledges), there's no word on when production will begin; on November 12th the LIFX team wrote that "It's not possible to make final [production decisions] until we perform detailed thermal modeling and standardized measurements of light output, color rendering index, white balance agility, etc."
In the meantime Philips has been stumping for their own wi-fi-enabled, color changing offering, the Hue bulb. Interestingly, one of their marketing points is that you can select the output color (using an iDevice) via a method that will be familiar to Photoshop eyedrop tool users. Check it out:
Being the corporate giant that they are, Philips has adopted an interesting marketing technique: They've chosen to make the device available only through Apple Stores (both online and brick-and-mortar), taking preorders now and shipping in several months. At 200 bucks for a three-bulb starter pack the things ain't cheap, though they're about the same cost as the LIFX's initial $69 Kickstarter buy-in.
Rogue retailers, by the way, are re-selling Hues through Amazon at an usurious $100 per bulb; it remains to be seen if Philips will crack down.
On LIFX's Kickstarter comments page, some expressed skepticism about this project; but internet trollage aside, if Philips has thrown their weight behind a similar concept, you can bet they've concluded there's a market. Now we'll have to see whether it's David or Goliath that wins this early battle in the smartbulb war.
When I moved in my new apartment, the last owner had left [an IKEA] Rigolit lamp in the middle of the living room. An object that looks like a fishing rod holding a big paper cloud. The lampshade was ripped everywhere and Scotch tape was holding it together. This huge volume was always in the way and we kept bumping our heads into it. One day, I had enough and decided to buy a new lampshade to replace the paper one. Everything was either too expensive for me or extremely ugly. Also, the closest IKEA was an hour away... by bus.
What does a designer do in such a situation? He makes! A few hours later, thanks to affordable 3D printing, a unique lampshade was made. I couldn't stop there, so I designed 2, 3... 12 different ones, using always the same shape and changing only the color and the texture. They take between 4 and 12 hours to print, use absolutely no support material, weight between 50g and 100g and cost less than $5 to print.
As in his "Project RE_," Bernier's approach captures the spirit of the Fixer's Manifesto to a tee, revitalizing a superficially damaged object with ingenuity, a bit of elbow grease (and a spool of ABS, of course).
If its mundane (yet accurate) name somehow belies its understated form, it is precisely because Alexandra Burr's "2×4" lamp is a successful exercise in brevity.
This pendant light is made from a simple 2x4, whitewashed to make it slightly more precious. Suspended by mono filament, it appears to float. An LED strip is hidden by a frosted glass lens. And a decorative red cord loosely stretches to the ceiling.
The Brooklyn-based Burr—an architect by training—is duly "material and process driven, exploring the technical challenges of the production and manufacturing process while striving to produce beautiful objects and spaces with an inherent simplicity of form." Thus, the execution of her pendant lamp is radically different from previously-seen trompe l'oeil table lamps, which achieve the magic of levitation through magnetism.
Nevertheless, the perspicuously antiseptic setting of the photographs is entirely too perfect for the minimalist lamp, and it's difficult to imagine how it might look suspended in context. While there's no denying the 2×4's elegance, I suspect that the fixture demands similarly unassuming decor (if Sébastian Cluzel's "Culinary Landscape" is too obvious, I could also see "2×4" hovering over, say, LucidiPevere's "Boiacca" table).
When it rains, it pours: Zürich-based design studio Micasa LAB first showed up on our radar four weeks ago, with the iRock rocking chair, followed by the Cocoon1 just a week later. This week sees the launch of the "Nebula 12," which can only be described as a WiFi-enhanced combination of a lamp and a fog machine, a device that gives new meaning to "cloud computing."
The Nebula 12 gathers meteorlogical data via the Internet (specifically, a weather service called MetOff) and translates that into atmospheric conditions indoors: "the Nebula 12 can change in colour and brightness and thus can be used as a variable source of light for romantic evening meals, when doing homework, when reading or just chatting... wake up to a flooding yellow light on a sunny day, or below a real cloud on that overcast winter morning." The artificial cumulus is conjured from thin air though "some peculiar techniques, liquid nitrogen, WiFi, and high-powered vacuum suction."
That last bit might obliquely underscore the device's passing resemblance to a certain article of paraphernalia, but the first thing that came to mind, for me, was actually a birdfeeder (not least because it hangs from the ceiling). In this sense, the Nebula 12 is essentially the inverse of the Nest learning thermostat: instead of adapting to user behavior (as the Nest does), Micasa LAB's concept is operates based on the forces of nature—sublimated into an attentuated household weather pattern:
In the standard mode, Nebula 12 predicts the weather for the next 48 hours. A threatening low-pressure area is announced by a red cloud, and sunshine is shown in yellow. At the same time, the user can adjust the settings and define the source of information themselves. And the best is: regardless of how dark the cloud is, Nebula 12 never brings rain. At least, not within one's own four walls.
Toronto-based design group Castor gets called a lot of names, especially sustainable—that S word whose egregious misuse irks us so. Not that Castor isn't sustainable, there are just so many better ways to describe them. Founders Kei Ng and Brian Richer say their furniture and lighting collection has a "sense of irreverence," a sentiment echoed by their highly irreverent and really kind of awesome head shot, above.
As far as their actual products are concerned, we suggest descriptors like recycled, or perhaps upcycled. The short doc, Castor is French For Beaver (it is—we checked), recently made by Carling Acthim and Lana Mauro, takes a closer look at two of Castor's best known lighting designs, the Tank Light and the Tube Light, both of which repurpose cast off materials like old fire extinguishers and burnt out halogen tubes and turn them into hanging light fixtures whose final form is completely removed from their previous lives.
Upon a little digging, I was surprised to find that the project dated back to April 2011. Noting that his current company Souda, which he co-founded with Isaac Friedman-Heiman, was founded this year, I inquired about the 20-month gap. Kasperbauer responded at length:
The Chandelier was originally made as a school project of mine a few years ago. Isaac and I, along with our third studio-mate Luft Tanaka, just graduated in May from Parsons School of Design for product design. I had been shopping around for commercial spaces during the last month of school and we signed a lease on our studio space on June first. We are just in the process of launching our first line, which includes a few revamped pieces that we had designed in the past along with a few new objects (and a number of items still in development). While the Bubble Chandelier was originally prototyped a few years ago, it has just now finished its first production run. The relationship with SURE WE CAN is something that came about once we started looking to produce the fixture.
We're pretty bummed that David Irwin's functional, miner-inspired M Lamp didn't reach its Kickstarter funding goal, but you can still get your hands on new lighting by Irwin with the ETXL lighting series he designed for Deadgood. Short for extruded lights, the two different EXTL lights are small, faceted pendants made using an updated version of traditional metal extrusion. Extrusion, a process that pushes a material through a die, is typically used for products with intricate cross-sections or brittle materials, like ceramics.
When it's used with metal, extrusion produces a high surface finish, but for EXTL Irwin used 3mm-thick aluminum with either a matte black, gold or silver anodized finish. To simplify the process and reduce material waste, a single sheet of aluminum is cut into varying angles, allowing for two styles to be made from one section of extruded materials. The aluminum facets are then bound together with a black silicon band.
Inspired by the boom poles used on film productions, the brand new Boom Lamp by Hackney-based studio, Group Design, is an oversized floor lamp born from a series of experiments in adjustability and scale. Richard Wells and Jeremy Scott, the studio's founders, applied their backgrounds in product design and architecture to develop a functional, efficient light that is both pared down and a stand-out centerpiece.
At its full height, the lamp is six and a half feet tall, but can slide down to four feet for a more intimate space or concentrated light. When we saw it in London last month, Wells and Scott were still working out a few kinks, like how to finish the felting on the shade and how to make the adjustable arm slide more smoothly, but their design was mostly complete. The finished piece will still be made from melamine-faced plywood and a 97% wool felt shade with a contrasting cloth cord—considerate touches that allow Group Design's furnishings to retain their minimalist aesthetics, "free of unnecessary visual and structural clutter" while still calling attention to form and materials.
If you've never heard of Wenzhou before, consider yourself educated: Sothing, easily my personal favorite among the talents at the Interior Lifestyle China show last week, hails from the Southern Chinese city of three million residents. The design consultancy provides fully-integrated product design solutions for clients such as Intel, Lenovo and Philips, among others, as well as a collection of independently-produced design objects. Several of these items were on display at the Shanghai Exhibition Center, and each and every one stood out as a noteworthy product.
The "Branches" lamp would tip over if not for the presence of the rock—any sufficiently heavy object will suffice—a simple metaphor for finding stability in everyday life. Meanwhile, the gold-peaked "Mountain" plate beneath it represents a perpetual sunrise.
As with the plate, the teapot refers to the mountains around the Wenzhou region; less obvious is the fact that the cups are shaped like the region's bodies of water.
Sothing Design Director Xiangfei Ran eagerly shared his insights and, with just a little prodding, some ideation sketches from his notebook.
The "Chair" ring is based on a pun: in Chinese, to 'depend' (yikao) is closely homophonous with 'leaning on a chair.' The wearable miniature is something like an elegant upgrade from a friendship bracelet.
Sothing's clear acrylic incense holders are treated with a carefully-applied pigment that deepens as smoke slowly escapes the enclosure.
After designer Li Zhiqian graduated from Shanghai's Tongji University, he interned at Decathlon, where he worked on the 2008 iF Design Award-winning "Kipsta" the Kage portable goal. He exhibited his most recent personal project, a series of bamboo abat-jours, at last week's Interior Lifestyle China show in his current hometown.
The "Colour Philosophy" collection consists of various veneers, cut and formed by hand into semi-translucent conical lampshades, as well as a couple of tabletop objects. Thus, the LED bulbs emit a rather warm glow.
After working with elderly people in a Norwegian village, Birgitta Ralston and Alexandre Bau of Ralston & Bau, wanted to create an outdoor lighting system specifically for Nordic cities, which are situated close to nature and have long, dark nights during wintertime. It was also important to Ralston & Bau to design lighting that wouldn't interfere with "the amazing light of stars and aurora borealis," (otherwise known as the Nordic lights) so they came up with Shroom, a series of light fixtures that are fully lit only when needed.
At night the Shrooms maintain a 10% light output, but the when the built-in detection system senses a passerby, the lights smoothly transition to full luminosity, lighting up the path or bus station or park bench. "This is both energy saving and avoids unecessary light pollution."
Recent Beijing transplant Henny van Nistelrooy presented a selection of his textile work at this year's Beijing Design Week. Exploring the intersection of craft and industry van Nistelrooy's work centers on the process of creating (and deconstructing) textiles. Although he studied Industrial Design, the Dutch designer found himself drawn to textile design—first learning on the hand loom and later working with an industrial weaving process.
Fabricate 1 Lampshade
On display is van Nistelrooy's screen and daybed he created with the Scottish textile brand Bute, as well as an interesting lamp shade that challenges the idea of mass-production. Using computer-generated design and industrial weaving, he created bolts of lamp shades that are then hand-assembled into pendant lighting.
The push and pull of the design poles of craft and industry continue to enchant designers young and old. This year's Beijing Design Week theme of "Craft" invited Chinese designers to delve into the cultural history of object design in the country while taking advantage of the manufacturing prowess of China today. Although we didn't see a wide-reaching rigor in the design practice on exhibit, it was great to get a glance into future possibilities for design in China.
As seen below, the shape of your average, basic, stationary table lamp hews closely to the "form follows function" ID maxim. Ideally you'd want the light bulb floating in space at a certain height above the table, shielded by a shade. Because bulbs cannot float and need to be wired in, you put in a stalk to support the bulb and house the wiring. Because the narrow stalk cannot balance itself while supporting the bulb and shade, you attach it to a wider, flat base for stability. A designer can make cosmetic adjustments to the form, but most of us rushing to draw a "table lamp" in Pictionary would come up with the same thing.
Now a Las-Vegas-based company called Radast Design is taking the classic form factor but injecting it with new technology. One of the problems with LED lighting, which has been so often hailed as the lighting of the future, is its need for heat sinks; manufacturers that don't want to deal with the added expense and hassle of heat sinks opt instead for weaker bulbs, which is why I find many consumer versions of LEDs so lame—the small LED add-on lamps you can buy for a sewing machine, for instance, are disappointingly wan. With their LightDrive lamp design, Radast has a different solution:
Most integrated LED lamp designs deliberately use low brightness LEDs to avoid dealing with heat. The LightDrive table lamp offers a completely novel approach to light output and thermal management.... By isolating the heat to the base of the lamp, we have engineered a more efficient thermal management solution without the contraints of working around the classic bulb-socket design. The result is a unique looking lamp which operates at only 13 Watts and has no exposed hot surfaces.
What Radast has done is essentially turn the lamp's innards upside-down. The light-producing, heat-generating element is in the base, and fires light upwards through the transparent stalk into a diffuser, up top, residing where the traditional bulb would be. Have a look:
You might recognize Sylvia Holthen for her AK-47 Safety Lock, the innovative gun lock that helped to prevent accidental shots in conflict zones, which we featured in our 2012 Design Awards. Her latest product, the L-Lamp, may not be quite as socially impactful but it's nonetheless practical and efficient. Designed in collaboration with ceramicist and fellow product designer, Birgitte Due Madsen, the L-Lamp is composed of a simple, unglazed porcelain tube that gives the "normally cold, energy efficient bulb" a warmth and radiant glow.
After researching LED technology in the light laboratory of the famous Danish lighting designer, Louis Poulsen, Holthen chose a 11W bulb with a 15,000-hour lifespan. The built-in plug the light connects to acts as a counterweight so that the porcelain tube "appears to balance magically." L-Lamp is still in its prototypical phase while Holthen works out one final kink. The current rubber cord isn't quite strong enough to support the weight of the plug, the bulb, and its porcelain enclosure, and after a few hours it sags, resulting in a less than perfectly horizontal tube, which, unfortunately, destroys the 'L' effect completely (see image below). That said, if Holthen can figure out a way to lock assault rifles and prevent misfires in combat zones, a little rubber cord should be a breeze.
Well this year, Dutch electronics giant Philips have added to the lighting display with an interactive installation in the same tunnel—and another hidden away in one of the lesser know gallery spaces of the vast Victorian edifice.
"Walk The Light," a collaboration with Domonic Harris and his Cinimod studio, illuminates unwitting V&A visitors with a trail of bright white light and a spectrum of colour that transitions from a cool blue to a intense red as they approach the museums door.
Up-and-coming London-based design star Lee Broom has been joining in the LDF12 festivities this week with a beautifully crafted pop-up shop in Shoreditch, taking his charming handcut crystal pendant lightbulbs to the streets—perfect for festival goers hoping to take home a piece of the designerly action.
The bulbs themselves are hardly groundbreaking but arranged in the store like this the 90 GBP price tag begins to seem a little more reasonable. Lee has been racking up some major interior design awards over the last couple of years, so it is, perhaps, no surprise to see such characterful interior and displays—the floor even strewn with sawdust—essentially just to flog a few lightbulbs.