Mind & Matter


A Glipse Into the Future of Light

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"I.Rain" OLED system by Thierry Gaugain, 2012


Although they are not yet widely available to the consumer, Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) represent a promising imminent future for lighting. OLED technology, which is based on an electroluminescent organic material, possesses many notable characteristics—including a 20,000-hour bulb life, negligible heat output, and nontoxic, recyclable ingredients—all within an ultrathin, 2mm-thick film. Current OLED fixtures cost a small fortune; otherwise, the technology would be much more widespread. However, OLED manufacturer Philips predicts that transparent, color-tunable OLEDs will be available to the consumer in three to five years.

A recent exhibit at Milan Design Week provides a glimpse into the future of OLED lighting. Sponsored by the Toulon-based Astron Fiamm, which launched its own Blackbody brand of OLED fixtures, the "Wonderoled" exhibit showcases prototype fixtures created by designers such as Thierry Gaugain, Aldo Cibic, and Tommaso Corà. Of note are Cibic's "Wish Tree" chandelier and branching "Blossoms" table lamp, as well as Gaugain's "I.Rain"—a suspended field of light circles that form a billowing, near-immaterial cloud of light. The small but enticing installation demonstrates both the technological and emotive potential of this new light form.




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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.