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.
If asked to name a long-lasting light source, you'd probably name LEDs. But as artist and fabricator David Ablon reminds us, you can find functioning neon signage that is eighty years old and still manning its post in front of some NYC storefront.
Ablon teaches courses in neon light fabrication at Brooklyn Glass, a studio and teaching facility in you-know-which borough that brings together artists, students and professionals. Check out what he does:
For those visiting or local to NYC, Let There Be Neon, the store where Ablon learned his craft, is still up and running down in TriBeCa. They have modernized a bit in that they've branched out into LEDs as well; I feel like lately I'm seeing more and more signs around New York featuring halo/backlit 3D letters like the one below, which they produced.
It's obviously easier to nail a company's logo via CNC or laser-cutting rather than bending it out of tubes, but I kind of miss seeing the "penmanship" of a good neon artist.
The barrel-like exterior of the lamp consists of two pieces of bead-rolled steel—available in galvanized, enamel gloss or textured matte—neatly fastened with a pair of worm-driven clamps. "The process of bead rolling introduces rigidity to the lightweight sheet structure; providing a return to house the diffusers whilst creating exterior channels for the clamps." The diffusion plates are available in "a selection of heavy tints, allowing the bulb to be at maximum luminosity without creating glare, with light escaping through the aperture at the rear."
Italian designer Federica Bubani lives and works in her hometown of Faenza in Central Italy, where she completed her degree in ceramics at the Institute for Ceramic Arts. Her portfolio of furniture and lighting designs reflects a remarkably refined design language, including a recent work called the "Nordic Lamp."
If the parallel wooden supports are understated per the lamp's name, the materials are rather more Mediterranean than Nordic: the white clay resembles blasted sand, and the tandem implementation of the elongated bell form—something like a baseless wineglass—vaguely evokes Islamic architecture as well.
Two new lighting products were recently introduced by 3M Architectural Markets, the company's interior products division, embodying their ongoing commitment to develop LED and OLED lighting solutions. The expanding LED and OLED market presents an interesting challenge for interior and lighting designers and we look foward to seeing fresh solutions in the near future.
AIR is a lightweight hoop fixture available in 3', 5' and 7' diameters and a wide range of color outputs from white light to RGB. The LED lights are dimmable and replaceable.
FLEX is a linear modular lighting system that can be curved along walls or ceilings. The system can be fully customized and is manufactured of a lightweight aluminum enclosure with a slender profile of only 1.72 in. thickness.
A CNC machine, a thin sheet of what looks like birch ply and "100 or so rivets later" Andrew Thomson had the geodesic pendant lamp you see above. Thomson's an avowed Bucky Fuller fan; when last we looked in on him, he was turning old Coroplast electioneering signs into a geodesic precursor for the lamp you see above.
Thomson, by the way, is one of my favorite types of ID'ers: the unsung workaday guys who aren't looking to be the toast of Milan but are instead steadily developing their books and their skills in local applications. On his blog, Alabama-based Thomson documents projects he and his buddy Jared* have pulled, like turning wood from a local barn into a bed that looks better'n what you'd find in West Elm, and producing tables, benches and counters for local restaurants.
Design House Stockholm, the Scandinavian furniture and domestic products manufacturer, celebrated its 20th anniversary at NYIGF this. Founded by Anders Fandig in 1992, the company was set up to facilitate creative product development for local designers and craftspeople. They started off with a bang with Harri Koskinen's Block Lamp, a glass block-encased light bulb that became "an immediate classic, earning a place in MoMA's permanent collection and winning numerous awards all over the world." Since then Design House Stockholm has grown from a consultancy to an brand internationally recognized for quality gods and a clean, minimal Scandinavian aesthetic.
To celebrate two decades of success, Design House Stockholm shot its 2012 catalogue in the Hallwyl House in downtown Stockholm. Designed in 1898 by Isak Gustaf Clason, the most renowned architect in Sweden at the time, the Hallwyl House was built as a winter palace for Count and Countess Walther and Wilhelmina von Hallwyl. Now it houses a museum with a mishmash of furnishings from the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Victorian eras that are in stark contrast to Design House Stockholm's signature Scandinavian style. It makes for an ideal setting, highlighting the austerity of the furnishings while also making them feel more 'homey' than they would in what we might think of as a more complimentary surrounding of gallery-white walls and polished concrete floors.
London's DeGross Studio returned to the OG form for their new series of "Utrem Lux" lamps. Made mostly from discarded bottles, which they found behind their studio, and wood offcuts from their neighbords W. Hanson wood merchants, they've crafted a series of lamps.
Don't miss the quasi-instructional making-of video:
From Milan via Coroflot: the "Teka" OLED lamp, a sculptural lighting object "inspired by Vienna museum displays, first microscopes and scientific instruments in brass." Industrial designer Alessandro Squatrito spent the eight months leading up to this year's Salone working for Aldo Cibic and Tommaso Corà of Italy's CibicWorkshop, the designers behind the piece and three others for the Wonderoled exhibition at the Triennale.
The upstarts at SUPERGRAU boldly declare that they're "all about naïve sobriety and understated sumptuousness," an appropriate albeit bombastic description of "the new prize exhibit of the LOVEPIECES collection." While we'd previously been taken by the Solingen- & Berlin-based company's clever knife blocks, they expanded their handcrafted-in-Germany operation to furniture and lighting earlier this year, and Lima de Lezando's "Furore" chandelier is their latest offering.
De Lezando's experimental approach was the key point that convinced SUPERGRAU on the spur of the moment to make the lamp part of their collection. And so FURORE comes in various combinations: copper or chrome with clear glass, shining white with clear glass or matte black with colour-toned glass. Handmade by local manufacturers in the south of Germany, its glass elements are a brilliant detail of the retro-futuristic chandelier framed by coated steel (free of heavy metals).
The vaguely arterial arrangement evokes abstracted branches to spite a wholly rational approach—purists might prefer Lukas Peet's "Rudi" pendant lamp—but the I'm mostly impressed with how the variation in materials and colors makes a big difference. The steampunk-y copper one vaguely recalls lighting designs by our longtime favs Lindsey Adelman and Jason Miller, while the all-black(-everything) looks fit for a dark (k)night; the chrome might be the most versatile, as it unerringly reflects the color and decor of its surroundings (the white is the least interesting in my opinion).
Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com
The FreeStreet lighting system offers a progressive and exciting solution which will also help to clear some of the clutter from our increasingly busy urban landscapes. The system eliminates traditional street light poles; instead connecting a string of LEDs along narrow cables which are virtually invisible during the day. The result is lights which appear to float in mid-air. This flexible, lightweight solution provides homogenous light distribution with no visible or physical obstruction from poles at eye-level. As Zoë Ryan, Jury Captain of the Furniture & Lighting category shares, "[The FreeStreet] is a very elegant and efficient solution to an everyday typology of object that because of its ubiquitousness can really define a city street."
How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
We found out online, via Twitter, as soon as the results came in. It was a lovely surprise!
What's the latest news or development with your project?
FreeStreet has already been installed in Eindhoven, in addition to a couple of pilots in France, and we're now starting to see applications to implement it in a number of cities across the world. There is lots of interest it. We're looking forward to seeing it being used in different settings.
What is one quick anecdote about your project?
The cable was one of the biggest challenges of the project, because it not only supports the luminaire, it also carries the electricity and the signaling. The capabilities and strength of this cable are unique to the project and we had to find the right specialist supplier to produce it.
What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
It was seeing FreeStreet at night, once it had been installed in the first pilot. FreeStreet is a great example of a new application making the most from LED lighting and demonstrating the benefits. But it is still all about the light and not the hardware. The structure of the luminaire is very small and almost invisible, which makes you appreciate the light and what it does. You see the light, but you don't know where it's coming from. And when this street lighting is used to illuminate a public space, you can still see the stars.