There's more to light than the opposite of dark – turn on to the latest in inspiring illumination.
Get turned on to lighting as daring design and technology create dazzling forms of ambient illumination.
"I can't stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action," Tennessee Williams once remarked. He obviously never saw Quasar's Helios or Bulb, Gino Sarfatti's 1963 "2109/12" or Ingo Maurer's 1966 homage to Edison, which remains one of his most celebrated designs.
From the first fires that burned within prehistoric caves to the neon street signs that vivify each metropolis, light has always been much more than mere illumination.
Be it sensorial or emotional, light is an experience that goes beyond the utilitarian. From the soft glow of a burning candle to the mesmerizing dance of light refracting off crystal, it's all about creating a mood to complement the moment.
It is this human experience that draws artists to the non-form. As Dan Flavin once said, "One might not think of light as a matter of fact, but I do. And it is, as I said, as plain and open and direct an art as you will ever find." Expressive, emotive and absolutely captivating, though contemporary masters such as Dan Flavin, James Turrell, Marcus Tremonto and Paul Friedlander may be confined to the realm of light artists, it is also undoubtedly the most fundamental element of possibly every painter's perspective.
Today's luminaries of light are infringing upon the realms of science and technology, pushing the boundaries of art further than ever. Ingo Maurer first pioneered domestic LED lighting in 2004, the year he introduced the first tabletop lamp utilising organic light emitting diodes (OLED) for their energy-efficient quality.
It is within this area that green design has had a great impact, for LED lighting not only boasts longevity as well as energy and cost efficiency; it is also incredibly versatile. Take Herman Miller's Leaf, designed by Yves Behar, which replaces a traditional bulb with LEDs connected to microchips. The touch-sensitive base is not only extremely ergonomic, but through the concept of dimmer technology, the mix of LEDs allows the user to create just the right tone of warm or cool light for any mood.
Although energy conservation has become one of the most important criteria for many of today's lighting designers and manufacturers, the overall design has become no less of a consideration. In fact, if anything, forms are becoming ever more impressive. Ironically, opulent design coalesces perfectly with power efficiency. Now there's a bright idea.
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Pirce by G.M. Scutellà, produced by Artemide
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Veio, designed by Neil Poulton for Artemide
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DIGIT floor lamp, designed by Emanuel Babled
Corral table, Bronco stools and C'upsidedown pendulum lamp, Extremis
Wagashi Wires pendant lamp, designed by Nichetto + Gardone for Foscarini
Dodo table lamp by Roberta Vitadello and Stefano Traverso for Italamp
Mum table lamps, designed by Roberta Vitadello and Stefano Traverso for Italamp
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Monkey Around suspension lamp, designed by John Niero
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Japanese umbrella table lamp, by Hiyoshiya Workshop Co. Ltd of the Kyoto Premium project
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Shell Ball Shade by Object Havoc
Allyson suspension lamp by Inspired by Design
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Dot Show chandelier, designed by Gonnette Smits for Muurbloem Lighting
MHY pendant lamp by Norway Says for Muuto
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Bobbin Lace bar pendant light, designed by Niels van Eijk for Quasar
Citadel composition pendant light, designed by Jan pauwels for Quasar
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Quasar's Helios Pendant light, designed by Rob Nollet
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Universe Disc pendant light, designed by Jan pauwels for Quasar
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Black Fiber pendant lamp, designed by Jakob Staer
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Royal BB chandelier, designed by Edward van Vliet, produced by Quasar
Sole table lamp by Harco Loor. Available from Novaluce
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Shower Chandeliers, designed by Marcel Wanders for Swarovski Crystal Palace Collection
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Cupola chandelier designed by Piero Lissoni for Swarovski Crystal Palace Collection
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Tom Dixon's Mirror Ball Stand
Shady pendant lamp, WIS Design