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Is working from home straining your eyes? These industrial designers have a solution

Task lighting gets a glow up.

Is working from home straining your eyes? These industrial designers have a solution
[Photo: Gantri]
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If you’re working from home for the first time, it’s quite possible you’re working with lighting solutions you have already: overhead lights, bright task lights, or maybe daylight—and before you know it, you’re sitting in complete darkness, save for the piercing bright glow of your computer backlight.

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Gantri, a marketplace that offers lighting by independent designers, has designed a new collection, Palm, that casts a softer, more diffuse light over your workspace. It’s meant to address the unique lighting constraints of working from home in 2020.

[Photo: Gantri]

Classic task lights, like the Tolomeo or the Anglepoise, cast a strong spotlight that focuses nicely on analog work, like writing on paper. But modern at-home workers largely rely on their computer, which is already backlit. So Gantri’s Palm collection—including a table, wall, and floor lamp at $198, $98, and $348 respectively—casts a soft, diffuse glow.

The soft cast of dimmable light makes sense for computer work as it creates even lighting across a work surface. This reduces eye strain, since the eyes don’t have to adjust from the direct light of a bright screen to dark space surrounding it, according to Ian Yang, CEO of Gantri. Yang says the company based its findings on in-person customer research and third-party sources, which recommend reducing contrast between foreground and background of your workspace. And less eye strain means less eye fatigue, making it easier to stay focused through an entire work day. Both dim lighting and glare or harsh reflection caused by high contrast lighting can cause eye fatigue, according to Harvard Medical School. (It also says that staring at a screen all day generally will tire the eyes, and recommends giving them a break every so often.)

[Photo: Gantri]

The 3D printed lamps are minimalist, with an oblong head, thin stand, and small, circular base that’s functionally meant to take up as little space as possible. But they’re not harsh: they have refined, soft curves and groovy secondary colors (yellow and evergreen, in addition to black, white, and light gray) that exude friendly postmodern ’70s vibes.

[Photo: Gantri]

The Palm lamp’s diffuser (where the lamp emits light) is tucked underneath the curve of the lamp head, so the user never looks directly into the light source itself. Each light’s lumens are relative to how it will be used: The floor lamp at 950 lumens LED is strongest as it’s furthest from your line of vision; the task and wall lights emit 600 lumens LED, as the user is most likely sitting either much nearer to the light or on a bed below it and the light will cast directly on them.

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[Photo: Gantri]

The coronavirus pandemic has caused major shifts in modern work culture. As of June, nearly 60% of workers worked from home all or part of the time. The flexibility has caused migration to small “zoom towns” in Western states. Yang believes that a market of work from home lighting—which he says marries the emotionally calming, moody cast of typical home lighting with light that’s conducive to work productivity—is burgeoning and could be here to stay. Says Yang: “When there’s a dramatic change in our circumstances, the market will change.”

Palm is currently made to order.

About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.

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