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Three Brilliant Bits of LED Lighting Design

Today’s most beautiful lamps also tout some ultra-smart engineering details.

Jean-Marie Massaud

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So we all know that LED’s are the future of lighting–likely even greener than those squiggly CFL’s. But along the way, LED lamps have become a little bit of a cottage industry for design, chockablock with engineering and design brilliance.

Dwell has amassed a pretty excellent collection of the best-looking LED lamps on the market. But there designs in particular are worth shouting out, for the clever details:

The most striking detail about about the w083t, designed by Jean-Marie Massaud for Wästbeg, is that mega-long neck, extending so far from the tiny base. The dumb way to pull that off would have been to bolt it onto a heavy base. But that would make the lamp weigh a ton, and render the arm immovable. Massaud’s solution: The neck is attached by a magnet. That means no moving parts, but a 360-degree swivel. Moreover, the long neck also has a vital function. LED’s burn hot but need to be kept cool; the neck, because it has no joints, allows heat to dissipate evenly all along its length. (An example of that principle at work: Think of the long metal handles on high-end cookware.)

Forget that Humanscale’s Element task lamp looks like the love child of an Apple mouse and a dentist’s lamp. It’s actually one of the most advanced pieces of LED tech on the market. The problem with most LED’s is that they’re not very bright. So designers have to crowd lots of them onto a lamp. Unfortunately, that can create a series of annoying, overlapping shadows. By contrast, the Element’s multi-chip LED’s are tightly bunched into a matrix, creating the look of a single light source. They do create lots of heat though, and that’s where the fins on the shade come in–they maximize the surface-area of the section absorbing the most heat, thus dissipating it without ever getting hot to the touch:

Element task lamp

The Trask Lamp, by Roger Allen
and Jaime Salm for Mio, is meant to the be the ultimate in low-impact design. Functionally, it’s highly adjustable thanks to all the bendy joints. But more important to the designers, the faceted form means that it packs utterly flat and ships in an envelope. Additionally, the arrangement of the lights solves the shadow problem, since they’re all pointed to an area in mid-air, rather than straight down:

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trask lamp

 

trask lamp

For some LED eye candy, check out Dwell.

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About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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