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Posts Tagged ‘lighting’

(smow) blog compact Bratislava Design Week Special: Transmission Lights by Studio deFORM

October 7th, 2014

At Bratislava Design Week 2014 Jakub Pollág and Václav Mlynář a.k.a. Studio deFORM re-premièred their Transmission light family; “re-premièred” because although initially created in 2012 for Prague based Kavalierglass, since earlier this year the lamp family have been part of the portfolio of another Czech glass manufacturer, Lasvit.

Constructed from a series of concentric glass structures which become ever more elongated as their diameter shrinks, the Transmission lamps present an unmistakable Art Deco aesthetic. A dangerously Art Deco aesthetic, an aesthetic that really should have us running to the hills, cursing the diseased society that bore such a creation…… However, we really quite like the Transmission family.

As with the mirrors created by deFORM for their Passionswege project with Rudolf Scheer & Söhne, the Transmission lamps have a scale and intensity that makes them impossible to ignore. Yet despite this brutal, uncompromising appearance the luminescence generated by the lamps – both the standing and hanging versions – is remarkably subtle, almost understated. Almost as if it isn’t there. Ethereal one could almost add. But certainly very pleasing.

And for us it is this contrast between expectation and result that makes the lamps so interesting.

And while admittedly not a lamp family for every room and every space, in the correct room and space the Transmission lamps are certainly a very interesting option.

Bratislava Design Week 2014 Transmission Lights Studio deFORM

Bratislava Design Week 2014: Transmission lights by Studio deFORM

Bratislava Design Week 2014 Transmission Lights Studio deFORM

Bratislava Design Week 2014: Transmission lights by Studio deFORM

Bratislava Design Week 2014 Transmission Lights Studio deFORM

Bratislava Design Week 2014: Transmission lights by Studio deFORM

Vienna Design Week 2014: Passionswege – Big-Game @ Wiener Silber Manufactur

October 3rd, 2014

For some 200 years Wiener Silber Manufactur have produced the finest silverware. Exquisite cutlery, table services, coffee pots and sugar bowls designed by both the firm’s own craftsman and also developed in co-operation with external designers: works by leading protagonists of the Wiener Werkstätte such as Josef Hoffmann or Kolo Moser being joined over the decades by designs from and by the likes of Oswald Haerdtl, Otto Prutscher, Gregor Eichinger or Claesson Koivisto Rune. Yet regardless of designer or era, all created with the same attention to the finer details of design and construction. Recent Vienna Design Week Passionswege projects have continued this tradition seeing as they have perfectly proportioned and delicately constructed projects by the likes of Charlotte Talbot or Tomás Alonso.

With their 2014 Passionswege project Lausanne based design studio Big-Game, have put an end to this traditional focus on the finer elements of the silversmith’s craft; yet with a product that exactly because it pushes ideas about what fine silverware is enhances the Wiener Silber Manufactur portfolio much more than it contradicts.

Taking their inspiration from Oswald Haerdtl’s 1952 Martelé Bowl, and for all the way the silversmiths carefully hammer the form, Big-Game have designed a table/desk lamp which despite its delicate handwork provenance presents a very rough and ready industrial charm.

With a lamp shade resembling a well travelled and well used gold panner’s pan the magic of the object is the way it utilises the reflective properties of silver to create a lamp which illuminates via indirect light: an LED shines onto the inner surface of the shade from below, and the light radiates out into the surrounding space. A tilt mechanism allowing the direction of illumination to be changed depending on required mood.

The charm of the design is that it leaves the silver unadulterated, makes use of the material, its properties and its emotional associations without asking it to actively participate in the object. One can enjoy it for the high quality handmade silver bowl it is.

Owing to the nature of the presentation in the immaculately illuminated Wiener Silber Manufactur showroom it is however difficult to judge just how the illumination comes across. How “good” it is. We assume however its good.

Less good is the lamps metal base. We like the contrast, like the industrial aesthetic, like the way it looks like the silver shade has been lazily clipped onto some pre-existing structure: just think it looks a little tooooo clunky, less like a carefully designed feature and more a quick fix. As if the design process hasn’t quite run its course, hasn’t yet found a material and scale it is happy with.

But as ever, what do we know.

And regardless of such considerations the lamp is not only a very good Passionswege project but a fascinating object for which we can see a great deal of potential.

Vienna Design Week 2014 Passionswege Big-Game Wiener Silber Manufactur

Vienna Design Week 2014: Passionswege - Big-Game @ Wiener Silber Manufactur

Vienna Design Week 2014 Passionswege Big-Game Wiener Silber Manufactur

Vienna Design Week 2014: Passionswege - Big-Game @ Wiener Silber Manufactur

Vienna Design Week 2014 Passionswege Big-Game Wiener Silber Manufactur

Vienna Design Week 2014: Passionswege - Big-Game @ Wiener Silber Manufactur

(smow) blog compact DMY Berlin Special: Godis by Nestor Campos

May 30th, 2014

As older readers will be aware one of our all-time favourite products is the table family Tints by Jason Miller.

Although officially inspired by aviator sunglasses what initially attracted us to Tints, and still holds our famously fluctuant attention, is their unmissable reference to candy.

They look like big boiled sweets suspended in a maple frame.

Our fascination with the Tint tables isn’t however the reason for writing about the lamp Godis by Lund University student Nestor Campos. Even if there are several parallels.

Not least the bonbons.

Whereas the candy in the Tint tables only exists in our somewhat imprecise understanding of the world, candies are and were the inspiration for Godis: principally the Swedish tradition of Lördagsgodis  – “Saturday candies” – which decrees that children can only have sweets on a Saturday.

Crafted from Swedish oak and glass from Småland Godis shimmers like a sweetie, its subtle mix of materials, colour and light refracting properties drawing you towards it with all the promise of a succulent, yet strangely sour, apple flavoured treat. The real joy of Godis however is the unobtrusive LED. You see the luminescence. Not the source. Hidden as it is within the wooden base.
As such one can genuinely describe Godis as being as much a room sculpture as a lamp.

On that note Nestor Campos also advocates that you can turn Godis upside down and place keys, loose change and the like on the wooden surface. We wouldn’t. We’d enjoy for the delightful light sculpture it is.

Godis by Nestor Campos

DMY Berlin 2014: Godis by Nestor Campos

Godis by Nestor Campos

DMY Berlin 2014: Godis by Nestor Campos

Binic by Ionna Vautrin for Foscarini

December 5th, 2013

“In a best case scenario, and when the technology is advanced enough, the opaque cover can be replaced by an OLED and so become the light source itself.”1

We admit to having wondered when we saw Ionna Vautrin’s Binic lamp on the “Light for tomorrow” table at the Vitra Design Museum’s Lightopia exhibition.

“Nice lamp”, we thought, “but not exactly revolutionary.”

First upon reading in the catalogue did we understand.

Binic by Ionna Vautrin for Foscarini

Binic by Ionna Vautrin for Foscarini..... the family

Inspired by ships funnels Binic is formally very reminiscent of Vico Magistretti’s 1967 lamp Eclisse for Artemide. It has the same innocence, is just as informal and accessible, yet somehow not so flippant. Its wonderfully proportioned form combines with its matt colours to imbue the product with a little more self-respect and for us, compared to Eclisse Binic exudes a more composed authority.

And the most delightful luminescence.

If we’re honest we don’t know in how far Ionna Vautrin and/or Foscarini genuinely plan to replace the light bulb with an OLED.

Didn’t really want to ask

For, to be honest, in a way we hope they hadn’t considered the possibility until the Vitra Design Museum suggested it. And now plan to.

Aside from the product itself the most important aspect of Binic is Ionna Vautrin’s nationality.


For too long now Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have had it too easy as everyone’s favourite Breton design studio.

A bit of competition will do them good. Stop them creating wooden ducks.

And of course we can’t wait to read the inevitable lazy magazine articles under the headline “Brittany – France’s Creative Coast”

1 Kugler, Jolanthe “Licht für das 21. Jahrhundert” in Lightopia, Vitra Design Museum weil am Rhein 2013


vitra design museum lightopia Light for tomorrow

Binic by Ionna Vautrin for Foscarini... as part of the "Light for tomorrow" section of Lightopia at the Vitra Design Museum


Binic by Ionna Vautrin for Foscarini. …… the video.

Designers’ Open Spots 2013: Porzellanatelier Biehne & Passig

October 26th, 2013

Although, according to our strict definition of “design” the work of Leipzig ceramicist Claudia Biehne must be considered handwork, we’re delighted Porcelain Studio Biehne & Passig are taking part in the Designers’ Open 2013 Spots.

When we dropped by the studio Stefan Passig asked how we first got to know the studio’s work, and unlike the romance of a casual meeting under an escalator in a former department store, with Studio Biehne & Passig we really can’t recall.

Suspect however it was at Grassimesse.

We are however certain where we last saw the studio’s work: as the Sächsisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst Award winning Lumos collection at the Intentional Marianne Brandt Contest.

Not only an aesthetic delight, the charmingly delicate yet robust objects in the Lumos collection are much more a demonstration of the creativity, imagination and for all the understanding of the medium that Claudia Biehne channels to help her find new form languages, new possibilities, new directions for porcelain design.

And a visit to the atelier in the Leipzig Spinnerei complex will reveal many more similar moments.

As with diefabrik, if you do get the chance to visit, we thoroughly recommend you take it.

Porzellanatelier Biehne & Passig can be found at Spinnereistraße 7, 04179 Leipzig or at

Light up your life …

July 29th, 2009

It’s Dumfries Show on Saturday.

That won’t mean much to the most people, but for us it is a sure sign.

Winter is coming.
We know, we know. Barely have we got use to remembering to take our sunglasses to work, buying ice-creams for lunch or waking up at 5 am because we forgot to shut the curtains – again – than the Dumfries Agricultural Society hold their annual show.
And after the Dumfries show the evenings get shorter with increasing rapidity and before you know it the ground will be brown with dying leaves.

Oh Joy!

And so the time is surely rife to start thinking about lighting for the dark months ahead. Below are a few of our suggestions, in addition to our previous favourites from the spring design shows.


FL/Y by Ferruccio Laviani for Kartell

FL/Y by Ferruccio Laviani for Kartell

In the first half of 2009 Italian producer Kartell invested a lot of marketing effort into promoting their lighting range, or The Kartellights Collection to give it its correct name. Which is no bad thing. For most Kartell is all about Philippe Starck‘s chairs, Ron Arad’s Bookworm or Philippe Starck’s chairs, and too little attention is given to their lighting collection. One of the true highlights in the collection is FL/Y by Ferruccio Laviani. Made in transparent methacrylate, the cover of FL/Y is not perfectly hemispherical but, rather, the cut-off is underneath the height of the diameter allowing it to collect the most light.  In addition, the special transparency of the material combined with the sheen of the colours bring to mind a soap bubble, iridescent with reflections of light. FL/Y by Ferruccio Laviani for Kartell is available in 9 transparent colours and opaque black and white.


Talak Lettura by Neil Poulton for Artemide

Talak Lettura by Neil Poulton for Artemide

It takes a brave producer to take what is in essence a table lamp design and scale it up to a floor version. But that is pretty much what the idea behind Talak Lettura by Neil Poulton for Artemide. At 139 cm high, the intention with Lettura is not a lamp to illuminate a whole room, but much more – and as the name implies – it is a floor standing reading lamp. [Lettura is Italian for reading for all who have not been to Milan] The lighting element itself is embedded in the vertical arm, and is available as either an LED or a fluorescent unit. The vertical arm can be rotated round 360 degrees meaning that you can position it over a desk for working/reading and then – assuming your room is correctly laid out – swing it round to allow you to continue to read in your favourite armchair. With its intense, warm light Talak Lettura not only adds an attractive ambience to a room on account of it’s stylish minimal design, but also through it’s illumination.

Bauhaus Lamp by Wilhelm Wagenfeld. Much adored, much copied, only buy originals

WA24 by Wilhelm Wagenfeld from Tecnolumen

WA24 by Wilhelm Wagenfeld from Tecnolumen

Having bought Eileen Gray’s Roquebrune chair to place next to your Eiermann Table you will of course be looking for the perfect lamp to complete your informal study corner at home. The WA24 by Wilhelm Wagenfeld was created by the young designer shortly after his admission to the Bauhaus workshop in Weimar. The result of an assignment given to him by Hungarian designer and Bauhaus Professor László Moholy-Nag, the lamp can in many ways be considred as ther starting point of Wagenfeld’s design career. As with almost all famous designs from the Bauhaus period, the Wagenfeld lamp’s are amongst the most copied of all industrialal designs, and purchasers should be wary of buying cheap replicas where quality craftsmanship has been sacrifice din favour of profit. All Wagenfeld lamps sold by (smow) are, as with all products (smow) sell, officially licensed originals – in the case of the WA24 by Wilhelm Wagenfeld that means from Tecnolumen, Bremen.


Clusterlamp by Joel Degermark for moooi

Clusterlamp by Joel Degermark for moooi

If we start a post with a sentence like “And now a lamp for those looking for a little different”, it can only mean one thing … moooi. On this occasion we’re going to forgo the insane beauty of Horse Lamp by Front and instead recommend Clusterlamp by Joel Degermark. If we’re honest when we first saw pictures of the Clusterlamp we thought it was a joke. A big, fat unfunny Dutch joke.

And then felt a little guilty after seeing it “in real life” as we realised that although it unquestionably posses the inventive genius of a Laurel and Hardy or Helge Schneider, it isn’t funny.

The PR text from moooi talks of it evoking experimentation with ambient expression, and while that may be true, for us the true charm of Clusterlamp is the fact that you only notice it when it’s switched off. We’re not going to pretend it looks particularly attractive, or that it is a lamp for every situation, but with it’s pleasant, inoffensive illumination and radical design Clusterlamp by Joel Degermark is definitely a lamp for …. you know the rest. Clusterlmap is available with a choice of three bulb sets (each set conatining five bulbs). The bulb sets can also be purchased separately for those looking to mix and match.

Vitra Cushions

Cushions from Vitra

Cushions from Vitra.

No they don’t light up, but what’s the point in creating a pleasantly lit environment if you can’t get comfortable with a good cushion or six. Vitra offer two ranges of cushions each covered with fabrics from US producer Maharam. The Maharam collection “Textiles of the 20th Century” is a range of re-issues of some of the most important designs in the Maharam archives. These include such classics as Geometri by Verner Panton, Small Dot Pattern by Charles and Ray Eames or Millerstripe by Alexander Girard. “Repeat” is a series of re-workings of classic designs from the archives of a Swiss mill by Dutch designer Hella Jongerius. For the Vitra cushion range three of the designs – stripe, hounds-tooth and dot ring – are available in range of colours. Both ranges offer not only exquisite design to finish off and compliment any interior, but also something soft and friendly to hold when you want to relax of a damp autumn evening after a hard days work. Depending on the design chosen the type of fabric does vary and so please check with (smow) before ordering.

smow design spring Top 5: Lamps

June 24th, 2009
Kete by David Turnbridge

Kete by David Turnbridge

The Top 5 Lamps from the smow design spring. In no particular order.

Kete by David Turnbridge. One of the first lamps we saw in Milan, and probably that which left the greatest impression on us. And not merely on account of its size. For us the principle beauty of Kete is the atmosphere it can create in a room with it 7W LED element. And despite their overproprtionality Kete doesn’t domiante the room. Honest.  Kete. Anything but dull.


Beachballs by TOBYhouse at designersblock, Milan

Beachballs by TOBYhouse at designersblock, Milan

Beach Ball Lamps by TOBYhouse. When we first saw Beach Ball Lamps we thought they were made from shaped aluminium. So stable and rigid are they. Only after entering into converstaion with designer Toby Sanders did we discover that they are real beach balls. And that was when the product became magic. That was the moment when we realised and appreciated just what a product we had before us. And that was the moment when we started to investiagte more carefully. Through a specialy developed process TOBYhouse coat the inside of the balls with a thin polyeurethene coat, before cutting the bottom open and rounding the edges. And with it’s brillant white interior Beach Ball Lamps offers an excellent illumination. Beach Balls Lamps. Anything but dull.


Flatline by Jason Brugges for Established and Sons

Flatline by Jason Brugges for Established and Sons

Flatliner by Jason Bruge for Established and Sons. We don’t own an iPod which is probably why we took a  couple of minutes to get the hang of the control system. Had it been based on an MD player we would have got the hang of it much quicker. However, once up and running we were in awe of Jason Bruge’s genial dimming system. And the quality of the illumination generated is every bit as convincing. If you don’t know what were talking about, check out our (smow)tube video. Flatliner. Anything but dull.


Fiss Family by My Own Super Studio

Fiss Family by My Own Super Studio

Fiss Family by myownsuperstudio. DMY in Berlin was full of lamps. We’re not exactly sure why but we’re fairly certain it had something to do with students being set lamp design as part of their final year project. A sort of conspiracy among product and industrial design lecturers to make earth shine more brightly than the sun. Fiss Family by Portugese outfit myownsuperstudio wouldn’t have been much help in such a plot, but was without doubt one of the finest lamp ranges we saw this spring. For us the beauty lies in the fact that the light flows downwards; consequently, they don’t produce the brightest illumination, but that which they do produce is amongst the softest we saw this spring and certainly the best intended for a living room or office when you want a gentle background light or constant, atmospheric illumination. Fiss Family. Anything but dull.


Spin by Tom Dixon

Spin by Tom Dixon

Spin by Tom Dixon. Not a lamp in the popular, modern electrified sense. But then were not sticklers for convention. Correctly used candles can offer a better, more positive illuminaton than their modern cousins. The trick is the “correctly used” part. With Spin Tom Dixon offers a wonderfully stylish opportunity not only to illuminate a space as we want it, but also to change the illumination as and when required. Spin. Anything but dull.

And a special mention goes to moooi for their Horse Lamp.

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