Three Novel Lighting Designs

Even with the necessary emphasis on LED technology and efficient materials, many lighting designers can’t resist experimenting with products that are just, for lack of a better word, cool. While strict functionalists may cringe, I admire this vein of creative conceptual design, in the tradition of Isamu Noguchi’s sculptural Akari lamps. Last week saw the debut of three new lighting designs that are similarly imaginative and playful, blurring the lines between lamp and objet d’art.

Well of Life Lamp Series by Arik Levy


At first glance, Arik Levy’s new lamp series looks like it may have been inspired by the plumbing-supply aisle at a hardware store. But as with most of Levy’s highly conceptual projects, each aspect of the product has material and symbolic significance. Levy explains via press release: “In many traditions and in everyday life Light is Life… I wanted to combine this idea with the story of catching the light in a water bucket, from which I got the inspiration for the Well.”

Levy refers to the matte-grey exterior of the lamp as its “elephant skin,” and says that the brilliant interior is intended to color the light as it rises out of the lamp, giving the “Life” physical presence. The ceramic medium itself is also supposed to have magical, primitive qualities. But if you just want one to match your throw pillows, that’s OK too.

The Hyphae Lamp by Nervous System


The Massachusetts-based design firm Nervous System, founded by Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, are literally growing lamps, using 3-D-printing technology and custom computer software that mimics nature. Intrigued by the unique patterns of veins in leaves, the designers built upon the research of the Algorithmic Botany Group at the University of Calgary to simulate the venation process digitally, and then used 3-D printing to create the final product out of white nylon. The resulting lamps use eco-friendly LEDs that last for up to six years and, when illuminated, cast dappled light through the webbed veins of the lamp’s surface.

Maki by Nendo for Foscarini


The latest addition to Foscarini’s lighting collection is the Maki pendant lamp by the Japanese design firm Nendo. Americans may recognize “maki” from their sushi menus, but the Japanese word for “something rolled” is, in this case, referring to something else. Nendo drew inspiration from children’s crafts that involve rolling paper into seashell or flower shapes. With Maki, that rolled shape is kept in place by hidden joinery between its sleek metal sheets. According to Nendo, “The magic of Maki is that it attracts attention that generates intense brief moments of exclamation in our everyday life.”

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