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Artemide, the legacy design brand, tries its hand at wellness

Working with Bjarke Ingels Group, Artemide takes on the science of color for a new product promising life-enhancing light.

Artemide, the legacy design brand, tries its hand at wellness
[Photo: courtesy Artemide]

Founded in Milan in 1960, the Italian lighting company Artemide is among the country’s legacy design brands, best-known for the highbrow desk lamp, like Richard Sapper’s iconic 1972 Tizio, a minimal counterweighted lamp that’s held in MoMA’s permanent collection, remains in production, and sells for $515 at Design Within Reach. Artemide is that sort of self-serious Italian design brand–which is why I was surprised to hear that it had launched a colorful new pendant made to boost indoor plant life, which sounds more like something you’d find on Goop.

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[Photo: courtesy Artemide]

Using patent-pending RBW technology, the Gople lamp promises a dose of wellness for the home and office–and even seems to takes cues from the Goop zeitgeist of cool-seeking wellness junkies. It’s pure eye candy, for one: The glass shades are individually handblown using traditional Venetian techniques to create a frosted ombre effect that transitions from opaque to transparent. Glossy, oblong orbs the shape of a pill, the pendants sort of look like the vitamins and CBD supplements now popularly peddled at juice bars. And with patent-pending lighting technology made to help indoor plants grow, the Gople would definitely appeal to a demographic millennial plant parents, a cultural trend that many have weighed in on.

The Gople lamp “reconciles human spaces and nature with light,” reads the product description, and was designed in collaboration with Danish architecture and design firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), who readily emphasize the near-mythical power of light in the Nordic region: “Light in the Northern part of Europe is very important–we thrive from sunlight, everyone in Scandinavia is attracted even to the slightest ray of light,” says Jakob Lange, a partner at BIG.

[Photo: courtesy Artemide]

Diego Martinelli, a rep from the marketing team at Artemide, tries to tell me about some of the science behind Gople. “Good light can follow and sustain the rhythmic flow of the lives, behavior, and emotions of individuals by introducing them to a broader dimension for a new perceptive experience,” he says. Huh? He then goes on to explain that the lamp’s light source swaps an RGB color palette (red, green, and blue, which is optimal for “man’s psychosocial well-being”) for one based on RWB (red, white, and blue)–“a light that is respectful of man and the environment”). “RWB is a new way of interpreting the colored light,” he adds. “It is a change in the approach that is part of Artemide wider process of increasing attention to the environment.”

The user can choose different color settings optimal for plants, or default to the white LED common to most lamps made today. Blue and red colored light helps plants thrive–blue is suggested for plants in the “vegetative” stage, and red for the “blooming” stage–and wavelengths for each are emissions-calibrated using a PPFD, short for photosynthetic photon flux density. Does it all work? At Milan Design Week this spring, where the designs were first unveiled, Artemide art-directed photos of the luscious, handsome lamps among oversize fronds of monstera deliciosa and other tropical plants, pastel wallpapers, and a pedestal of bananas, seemingly to demonstrate the effect of the RWB on organic matter. Not for nothing, the lights do create some serious #mood.

As a friend who unapologetically loves Goop recently put it, the myth of wellness is less about the results and more about the conscious act of treating yourself: “It’s like, how can I resist? There’s something so appealing about thinking you’re doing something good for yourself. I’ll do anything that’s supposed to make me, or a part of me, ‘better’.”

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About the author

Aileen Kwun is a writer based in New York City. She is the author of Twenty Over Eighty: Conversations On a Lifetime in Architecture and Design (Princeton Architectural Press), and was previously a senior editor at Dwell and Surface.

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