Until June this year, Stedelijk Museum of Contemporary art in Amsterdam is hosting the work of Marcel Wanders, Internationally renowned Dutch interior designer. The show spans 25 years of his work. The exhibition is remarkable in all sorts of ways -- such as a 3D-printed sculpture of someone’s snot flying mid-air. But we’ll focus on his Lighting creations and why you should care.
We were particularly intrigued by the designer’s most recent lamps oeuvre. Mr. Wanders takes advantage of LEDs’ innate ability to convert 80% of energy to light rather than heat by using various textured fabrics e.g. mohair for his lamps that would never work if conventional light sources were used. A 60W incandescent bulb can reach surface temperature of 125 °C. Imagine using those with mohair. Immediate fire hazard! What’s actually compelling about these lamps isn’t just the fabric/material and LEDs but the combination of these together with bio mimcry to form new creative designs. For example, mushrooms, cocooned eggs, wall flowers etc.
So what? There’s a scene in the movie “Devil Wears Prada” where the non-fashionista Intern at Vogue ridicules fashion’s obsession with what she considers non-consequential differences in color and form and gets a lecture from the Editor about how fashion Run Ways ultimately influenced the choice of the sweater she was wearing. i.e. Fashion design influences what ends up in high street stores.
In a similar manner, International designers like Mr. Wanders influence the type of lighting that ultimately end up in retail outlets, restaurants, or in hotel lobbies. We think these contemporary creative designs may provide extra appeal beyond the functional aspects of LEDs (efficiency, cost effectiveness, durability) to boost adoption of LED lighting. This is probably the case where retrofit bulbs are used in the fittings rather than complete integration of LEDs and luminaire. These so called LEDinaires might take a while for adoption to happen in parts of the world where inevitable electricity surges are known to destroy electrical devices which in this case means one would have to get rid of the whole lamp, not just replace the bulb.
Chandeliers are especially popular in many upper middles class homes across Africa and the Middle East so more creativity on this front should open up LED lighting in these markets.
(This post was originally published April 11, 2014)