Salone del Mobile Milano

Trend Research: The Lighting Experience - Smart Light and PlayLight

Smart Light

Next generation smart technologies have found effective application in the lighting field, enabling light to be connected to domotics and home automation systems, so that it becomes responsive and adaptable according to demand and circumstances, creating the most congenial atmosphere every time.

Ordinary double-sided sticky tape is all that is needed to attach the triangular Nanoleaf Aurora panels to the walls. The LED panels can be smartphone operated and voice controlled and take on the colours and brightness required. In the fullness of time, they will be able to go on and off in response to the rhythm of music in the surrounding atmosphere. It is a system that lends itself to an infinity of possible uses and which, thanks to its fluidity, achieves the perfect fusion of illumination, design and technology.


Harnessing these technologies also brings fresh impetus to the design of the lamp as object be it floor standing, suspended or wall-hung allowing it to take on new shapes and meanings. Being able to design wireless-operated lighting, for instance, informs the creation of movable and portable light sources, embracing the current trend for hybridising  the domestic spaces.

Which of us has never experienced a particularly powerful moment when in contact with nature and wanted to try and stamp it on our memories so as to relive it again, mentally at least? Triggered by what is presumably a universal experience, the young Italian designer duo Olive Creative Lab has come up with a lamp that is as technological in its design as it is emotional in its inspiration.

Sun Memories, quite literally reproduces the light of the sun based on our preferences and inclinations. This is all made possible by a wearable device that uses a luminous sensor to record the brightness, colour and temperature of the sun on any given day (it can take readings for over six hours).


The data is then fed into an app that enables users to create their own “sunlight recordings playlist”, to store the light from the very best days in the open air. This playlist can be sent to Sun Memories which  using built-in software and an RGB LED connected to it can restore natural light in all its glory, from colour to intensity, to brightness and alternating shadow. 


The most fascinating aspect of this project, which is not yet on the market, is not the fact that one can have an easily regulated and personalised lamp, it is the possibility of introducing truly bright light into a domestic or work environment, that constantly changes just as natural light does. 

The Eagle collection of luminaires pays homage to the 1969 space mission that put the first man on the Moon. Four of Woodlabo designer Gaël Wuithier’s lamps were inspired by the fuselage of the Eagle, the lunar module that carried out the actual landing: Orbit, Landing, Moon and Lift Off - which “narrate” the four crucial stages of the lunar expedition. The collection also includes Apollo – reminiscent of the shape of the legendary Apollo 8 command module – and Eagle, which naturally calls to mind the lunar module.


In all, the six light and airy luminous sculptures, each of which is highly evocative and admirable in its own right, together resemble a small constellation, a team of flying objects suspended in a timeless dimension.  


The choice of materials – birch plywood and aluminium – is an explicit reference to the technical design and components of the moon landing vehicles, while the six shades were constructed with slim birch panels just a couple of millimetres apart in order to let the warm light from the LED 3000K bulbs filter through the gaps, serving to emphasise the conceptual shapes of the lights

We all now know just what a negative effect smartphones can have on our powers of concentration and on productivity. People are increasingly looking for antidotes to hyperconnectivity, small expedients that – far from being a refutation of digital technology – simply enable limits to be placed on the excess of stimuli and stress to which they are exposed on a daily basis.

The answer to this need for a valid digital detox prop could well lie in the marketing of Tranquillo, a prototype created by a group of students - Avid Kadam, Ruya Akyol, Jules McGannon and Yong-Ming Wang – at Domus Academy.


Tranquillo is a discreet table lamp that only goes on when a smartphone, which simultaneously goes into automatic “do not disturb” mode, is placed on its base. Thus one simple gesture obtains a dual result: light where it is needed and concentration boosted.


Tranquillo is also connected to an app, which enables the brightness and warmth of the light to be customised according to preference and the situation in which it is to be used (reading, study, work, rest, etc.), and its base also works as a USB smartphone charger.  

This truly multitasking object harnesses technology to cut the negative impact technology itself can have on our daily lives. 


The value people place on customised products and consumption increases exponentially when it comes the place that best reflects their social identity and, more than anything, reflects their way of life: the home. It comes as no surprises, therefore that the lighting sector is taking this attitude on board and that interior architects, designers and creatives are throwing themselves into projects and new products that enable them to create the most comfortable lighting ambiance best suited to people’s lifestyles and habits.

From a formal point of view, the trend towards nostalgia, drawing on the past and the ingenuity of the childhood world as a fertile source of stimuli and imagination, has become one of the possible distinctive features of new concepts and designs.  

Conceived by the Viennese duo mischer'traxler, the structure and operation of the Equilumen lamp serve as a reminder of just how delicate finding a balance between a number of moving parts can be. This is achieved through light.


The brightness of the two glass globes at either end of an iron rod is equally distributed when they are positioned on the same axis. 


Symbolic role aside, the light is devised to trigger interaction with the user, so that the two light sources can be directed where light is needed most, according to need and desired atmosphere. Thus the lamp can be rotated 90 degrees around its centre and angled up to 45 degrees.  

Part successful magic trick and part small art installation, FLYTE is a childhood dream pulled off by designer Simon Morris, which was to create objects that could gravitate freely in the air like a flying carpet or the hoverboard ridden by Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future.


FLYTE’s LED light bulb quite literally floats, on a small wooden base available in oak, ash and walnut  harnessing the power of magnetic levitation and the principle of induction, or wireless power transfer, invented by Nikola Tesla. A magnet and wireless receiver are embedded in the bottom cap of the bulb while the base contains a wireless transmitter and an electromagnet. The magnetic force between the two pushes the bulb upwards.

It is activated by being lowered gently towards the centre of the magnetic base: the LEDs then start to turn on, at which point a delicate release can be felt and the electromagnets automatically centre the bulb into position, allowing it to oscillate gently with a rotating movement that verges on the hypnotic


Flyte needs no batteries, has a 50,000 hour life and is, quite literally free of wires and gravity. No surprise then that the website claim reads: “Set the light bulb free!” 

Lines & Dots is a collection of lamps by the Home Adventures brand founded by Spanish designers Pablo Figuera and Álvaro Goula as a receptacle for all the unexpressed creativity left over from their childhood, unfettered by market considerations. It is a means of giving free rein to experimentation and to sheer enjoyment by exploring unknown and unconventional fields of expression and quite literally sparking new “home adventures”.


The design process started with thousands of lines and dots drawn in ink on paper, from which eight silhouettes were chosen as models.


The Helios modular touchscreen wall light went into production following a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year – which brought in double the set target. Conceived by designer James Vanderpant and mechanical engineer James Glover, Helios turns walls into a canvas for illumination, in a design concept reminiscent of Lego – on which people’s hands move like paintbrushes to create the desired ambient conditions.


The product consists of small plastic hexagons – the bricks – which can be pieced together and connected by magnets set into the edges, to create the most disparate shapes, tailored by its users and environment-specific, as dictated by the need for lighting, anywhere from rooms at home to office spaces.

Once the tiles have been affixed to the wall, the user can swipe them with their hand, like a touch screen, to activate them, thanks to sensors built into each component. As well as providing the physical connection between them, the magnets also allow for the transfer of electricity and over 100 tiles can be connected to the same power circuit. 


The basic idea was to create a product that could turn interior architectural elements into light sources and also, to give the user the “ability” to interact playfully with them: when swiped, they create a luminous path that can be changed to suit changing needs and requirements, seamlessly and responsively.