Designers are taking a soft approach to lighting, utilising silk, wool and reclaimed textiles to house light globes.
The desire to improve stark corporate environments, introduce art beyond its common placement on walls and a move towards smaller residences has moved lighting to the forefront of interior decoration strategies. Lighting products have moved beyond their practical illuminating duties and are being transformed to works of art.
While glass, wood and metal elements are still the preferred materials for lighting products, recognised for their structural ability, they are being complemented by textiles where lamp shades are weaved with rope and lighting globes are draped in silk.
Textiles are being used to add interest to lighting products from ceilings to walls and are designed and constructed to play with shadows and light. The use of green fabrics and eco-materials is also high on the material list. Here are seven examples of textile infused lighting products:
1. Luna Luna
Melbourne designer Stephanie Ng has covered LED lighting globes with 100 per cent treated merino wool covers in a light titled Luna Luna.
In deciding on a textile, Ng chose Merino wool for its natural fibre and sustainable properties.
“It keeps you warm when you’re cold and cool when you’re hot,” she noted. “Merino wool can reduce the rate of heat transfer to the environment because they offer superior insulation. The surface has a waxy coating that repels liquids. Water droplets on the surface will bead and roll off instead of being absorbed into the wool.”
For extra precaution, Luna Luna is also finished with an Australian standard flame retardant while the handmade lights feature an extra long flex that allows Luna Luna to curl, drape or hang.
2. Drawstring Lamp
The aesthetically whimsical Drawstring Lamp was created by Swedish designers Merry-Go-Round.
The company is renowned for using industrial waste to create products with Drawstring Lamp constructed from a sun shielding waste material. The cord is also a textile material sourced from a belt factory.
The material that sits over the globe is “naturally stiff” which allows it to be moulded to create distinct shade shapes and designs.
“The textile cables have a three coloured dotted pattern reminiscent of the classic textile cable but more three dimensional in its look,” explained the designers. “The wooden parts that hold the lamp together both work as a constructional component, decoration and as a practical feature if you want to shorten the cable.”
There is also table lamp version constructed from bicycle spokes, in which the wood is sourced scraps from a carpenter's workshop.
3. Luminous Textiles
Phillips has a different take on textile lighting fixtures, with the company creating a luminous wall covering product called Luminous Textiles.
The textile panels are embedded with Phillips’ LED technology and are described as "mood lighting." The panels are finished with Kvadrat textiles and use the Kvadrat Soft Cells acoustic panels with patented technology that keep the fabric under constant tension.
The sound absorbing textiles on the panels vary from velvet-inspired fabrics to linen textures to delicate weaves, all the while offering an extensive colour palette.
“Luminous textile is a challenge for every architect because they have complete control over the content. It’s pure inspiration.” said Procore architect Olav de Boer, who used the product in a Netherlands restaurant project.
4. The kahdu Collection
Ilan El, the creative engine behind bespoke lighting design studio ilanel, is renowned for exploring the sculptural opportunities of lighting as seen in his textile kahdu lighting collection.
The kahdu collection is constructed from a satin pre-pile extensible material that is made in France. The pendants, which are made in Melbourne, also include a powder coated wire frame and are available in an extensive colour palette.
“The hand crafted woven lampshades often appear to be moving or breathing due to their precise, mathematically-based composition,” explained El. “Their bold sculptural presence often place them as the centre of attention.”
The design itself was inspired by the Optical Art movement in the 1960s. This form of art represented an abstract and illusive direction where repetitive design was used to give the effect of movement.
5. Sock Pendant Lights
Designer Jay Watson took to his sock drawer to create this very innovative concept, which is essentially a collection of Sock Pendant Lights.
The clever suspended lights are created from reclaimed socks and treated with an eco-resin derived from sunflowers.
The light peeks through the colourful sock fabric to create a soft glow which is illuminated from a new ultra energy-saving high brightness LED light source.
“Inspiration sprung from a fascination for the ethereal glow created from lighting through textiles,” explained Watson of the design.
6. Weaver Pendant Light
Melbourne lighting studio Satelight stocks a Weaver Pendant Light that is hand woven from nylon rope.
The suspended light has been constructed using traditional craft techniques by a macramé artist – a textile technique that uses knotting instead of weaving or knitting.
Black or red rope (other colours upon request) create a softly knotted pattern around the globe which softly shapes into a teardrop shape.
“Through the Weaver lighting collection’s intricate shape beautiful shadow play is achieved within the space,” said Satelight.
Rope creates interesting detail and is considered quite an industrial look when used in interiors and, if applied in its classic tan colour, is generally a product designed to connect to nature.
European lighting company Nemo Cassina explored using textiles to cover an already strong structure with the freestanding Kazuki floor lamps.
While the lights themselves are constructed from aluminium, a translucent fabric diffuser is stretched over the frame to conceal the lighting fixture, which is painted white.
The fabric then distributes light softly through the space and there is also an option to control the light intensity of Kazuki via a dimmer that would placed at the lamp stand.
As sustainability and the rise of reclaimed materials continue to direct product design, it's probable that textiles will become more prevalent in lighting. According to Merino Australia, five per cent of all landfill is textile waste, making it another area that encourages opportunity and a need for change particularly in the design environment.