During the 2017 edition of Euroluce, the biennial exhibition at Salone del Mobile Milan, 450 exhibitors from around the world created unique environments representative of their brand, evolving style and technological advances that shape the industry. The exhibit provided a resource for indoor, outdoor, industrial and specialty lighting, but most of the focus was on indoor designs for homes and public spaces.
ArchiExpo caught up with several designers and editors to discuss how traditional materials and techniques continue to generate innovation, and how new technologies, and evolving safety and environmental regulations, are influencing design.
Paris-based designer Dan Yeffet introduced several lights at Euroluce and Salone del Mobile for Roche Bobois, Haymann and other companies. An addition to his Highlight collection graced the Varonese stand.
An elegant glass tube in hand-blown Murano glass, Varonese’s signature material, stands on a marble base topped by an identical marble piece. When Highlight was first released last year, the LED light source was in the bottom piece. “I’d wanted the light in the upper part because I like the ambiguity of hidden light sources. But I wasn’t satisfied moving the electrical cord up top because people are used to turning on a lamp from the bottom,” said Yeffet. “But in the design process, what you intend gives way to what you find along the way.” For the newest version, the marble ends are interchangeable. “We decided to let the user choose if the cable and light source [should] go on the top or bottom,” Yeffet added.
What’s next for Yeffet? “There’s a new edition of lights that I’m doing with the Sericyne silk company which is completely different—organic lights which are made by silkworms. Sericyne trained silkworms to weave around shapes.” Yeffet hopes the lights will be ready in the coming month. “Don’t laugh, but we’re waiting for the worms to finish their job.”
Another designer creating fascinating light objects through process-based design is Omer Arbel of the Canadian company Bocci. Experimenting with glass, metal and air, Arbel employs a combination of procedures to produce organic looking objects.
The 84 series released this year comprises glass balloons made by blowing into white glass inside a fine copper mesh basket which is then plunged into clear molten glass. Air blown through the inside mesh creates a bubble. Through this process, every piece is different, sometimes with visible folds in the mesh or tiny air bubbles trapped inside the glass. The light source is placed inside the glass balloon.
At the Bocci stand, 84 series bubbles were suspended from the ceiling in scattered clusters. Arbel’s light pieces reach their full effect when grouped tightly together in a random array that resembles luminescent sea creatures.
Slender Lines of LEDs
“We are no longer ruled by the lightbulb,” Japanese lighting designer Arihiro Miyake told ArchiExpo. “With LEDs we can create much finer light, which gives more design freedom.” Arihiro, based between Finland and Italy, released the Titia lamp prototype at Euroluce for Italian lighting producer Nemo.
The 3-D printed prototype is formed by connecting congruent slender zigzag pieces into a ring. The pieces connect side-by-side and top to bottom so the ring can be as wide or tall as desired. The light source lines the inside of the pieces. “The idea is to have the smallest possible dimensions to distribute the light into thin lines, spreading it out so one point of light won’t be so strong,” according to Miyake. Production of Titia will be in coated aluminum or plastic, depending on heat the LEDs release. “We are still working on how to create the design for mass production after Salone de Mobile.”
U.S. company Gray Pants takes advantage of LED compactness as well, with the release of their Chronalight collection. Designed by Seth Grizzle, the lamps mimic the gaseous rings surrounding stars.
A ring of bright LED light encircles a flat dish made from spun brass and acrylic diffusers. The reflective property of brass intensifies the light. When hung either vertically or horizontally, Chrona looks like something interstellar.
Advances In Wireless Technology
Casambi Wireless Technology, creating wireless controls for lighting, was omnipresent at Euroluce. The company is collaborating with several exhibitors, including Spanish company Santa & Cole and London-based Innermost.
Casambi founders Timo Pakkala and Elena Lehtimäki previously worked for Nokia. They used their experience in wireless communication to create a computer chip with lighting modules. Companies that have an electronics team can integrate the Casambi chip inside the driver, but Casambi also manufactures bulbs usable in any standard lamp. The lights are controlled from a user-friendly downloadable application. The user selects images or icons to control different lights around the room or several rooms, changing color and temperature. An upcoming version will feature hue and saturation control.
Casambi works via Bluetooth, limiting the interference often experienced with WiFi-controlled devices, especially when several networks are operating in the same area. However, lighting can still be controlled remotely through Wi-Fi if one device is left in the building with the Casambi app on.
Some companies create their own wireless technology, like Israel-based Aqua. The firm combines innovative technology with timeless materials, designing paper and silk lamps whose brightness and temperature can be controlled through a cell phone application. At Euroluce they presented both classic and futuristic pieces, all crafted by hand and controlled wirelessly.
Check out the latest lighting products exhibited on ArchiExpo.