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A Lamp That Uses Steel Marbles As A Light Switch

Light switches are boring, so we’re always on the lookout for a more novel way to turn on our lamps. And the Mercure Lamp certainly has that going for it: the bulb is filled with steel marbles which function as the switch. When you incline the Mercure Lamp, the ball bearings tumble to the base of the lamp and complete the circuit, filling the bulb with light.

Created by French designer Luce Le Guen, the Mercure Lamp was inspired by the mercury tilt switch, a type of switch which is used in cars to turn on the lights in your trunk when you open the lid, or to display a tip-over warning for construction equipment on an angle. Like a mercury switch, the Mercure only turns on when the switch inclines in such a direction that a circuit is bridged by tumbling metal. The only difference is that instead of using toxic mercury, the Mercure Lamp uses steel.


The ball bearings are a clever affordance which give a clear visual clue as to whether or not the lamp is on, while the tinkling of the bearings rolling inside glass are said to give the Mercure pleasing haptic and even aural feedback. But there’s more to a lamp than just the way it turns on. Made of blown glass, with an enclosed glass chamber inside the bulbs, the Mercure’s glow is designed to resemble moonlight bouncing off of a glass fishing float in the water.

A one-off project–at least for now–the Mercure Lamp will be on display at the Biennale International Design Saint-Etienne as part of the Experiences of Beauty exhibition, running from March 12th to April 12th.

(Via: Design Boom)

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