Lighting is changing. Subtly at first, spurred on by environmentally conscientious regulations for the lighting industry, making designers think harder about each design. Moreover, changes thanks to the movement towards LED lighting for its cheap, flexible and diverse benefits – benefits which include the ability to evolve grassroots electronics, like the Arduino or the Raspberry Pi, into small, practical lighting applications.
Where larger companies struggle to meet design with creativity, smaller businesses have the freedom of imagination and expression, which is driving a new tier in lighting design.
Many smaller lighting design companies are picking up the reigns for domestic lighting; the very reigns often dropped by the larger manufacturers due to the limited profit margins within this sector. Where larger companies struggle to meet design with creativity, smaller businesses have the freedom of imagination and expression which is driving a new tier in lighting design. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the best lighting design out there at the moment.
The Good Night Lamp
The good night lamp promotes interconnectivity through light – the lamps are connected to the ‘internet of things’, so if a friend in China turns on their ‘big house’ lamp, one of your ‘little house’ lamps will switch on. This allows family to keep track of each other, friends to keep in touch and moves our interconnected modern life ever closer.
Okay, so you might not want people checking on you 24/7, but this isn’t about ‘social stalking’ – you choose to switch on the lamp and, in so doing, open up a little bit more of your life to your loved ones. The good night lamp isn’t available yet, but you can subscribe to updates on their website to find out when it gets released.
It’s a common experience – you turn off the light then lay in bed waiting for your body to adapt to the fact that it’s actually ‘sleep time’. Lighting manufacturer Saffron have seen this as a gap in the market – their new lamp, the Drift Light, actually self-dims over time to allow your body’s internal clock to adapt to nighttime. It operates through a ‘double-click’ on the light switch, so there’s no presetting required – you just give the switch a tap and the light begins the dimming process.
I can see this being great for external lighting, where you can double-click an outside light on, fully aware that 37 minutes later the lamp will switch off of its own accord.
I’ve struggled to find any supporting research that a dimming lamp can truly imitate the deviation of light similar to the setting sun, or that it has any sufficient benefit to really make a difference to sleeping patterns, but with a starting price of $29 and a lifespan of 30,000 hours, it’s well worth a try.
Philips Lumiblade OLED
Organic LEDs, or OLEDs, are the first surface light source in history, providing an entirely new lighting mechanism. OLEDs provide light at a much lower temperature, closer to 30 degrees celsius, meaning they can be incorporated into a wide variety of materials that just isn’t possible with standard LEDs.
The major issue with OLEDs at the moment is cost; a 1mx1m square of OLED costs around €12,000. OLEDs have the potential to change the face of electronics, by providing an unprecedented level of flexibility. The future of OLEDs is so closely linked to the future of electronic design, that it may well be possible to have a tablet device that you can roll up and put in your pocket, thanks largely to this innovation.
Carrying out this kind of research is expensive and, as a consequence, it is being pioneered by the ‘big boys’ of the lighting industry. Hopefully, as technological advancements reduce the price of the OLED, I’d love to see imaginative OLED design a real possibility for other independent lighting designers.
With new design and innovation being pushed forward by the big and small alike in the lighting industry, it’s easy to see why the future is going to be bright. The real key for me is making sure the smaller start-up lighting companies really get the opportunity to shine on limited budgets – that’s why, personally, the Good Night Lamp is so exciting – it’s good engineers with good ideas, drawing up a product which is fit for purpose and adaptable for the modern life. I really hope we see more products like this; for me, it’s what the creative lighting industry is all about.