We have mentioned the alien look of some LED lamps in earlier editions of this newsletter. The first generations of LED lighting technology certainly posed a few headaches for designers. Many lamps had grotesque shapes that needed concealing behind shades in order to hide their hideousness. It has been a real hurdle for LED manufacturers trying to win market share in the interior design sector. However it is beginning to look like certain manufacturers have been listening and things are about to change!
Essentially – in what is termed as ‘retro-fit’ in the lighting industry, form-factor (the shape) of bulbs and lamps are going back to basics. It seems that it has finally sunk in that we don’t want lamps that look like ‘corn on the cob’ or lollypops or worse – props from Star Trek. In fact LED is even revisiting the designs by Edison himself over 100 years ago. After all these original form-factors were ultimately compatible with the luminaires that still exist in period and contemporary interiors today. What a relief to have compact florescent spirals and early LED heatsink fins behind us!
I have picked two examples of popular categories – GLS ‘globes’ and GU10 spotlights as examples of the new trend. I have also chosen a UK manufacturer Integral LED, a brand I trust amongst the multitude of international offerings.
GU10 in the Spotlight
In the development of the Classic Glass GU10 range, Integral recognised that luminaires in the halogen era were designed to allow light to pass through the wall of the globe – effectively shining light backwards. Many luminaires (especially in bathrooms) are designed to allow this attractive iridescent and multi-coloured light to be pooled on the ceiling. To enable this effect, the lamp holder in many fixtures was cut back to the stem of the lamp itself. Essentially these glass bodied LED GU10s have revived the aesthetic look of a traditional spotlight. The solid therma-plastic body of current LED models has been replaced by glass which is a perfect complement for many existing decorative luminaires.
It is recent innovation that has allowed this traditional look. The light source consists of several LED chips or surface mounted devices that combine to generate a ‘COB-like’ light that decreases the heat profile of the lamp thus allowing for the use of glass. Effectively, the design has mimicked the good looks of the halogen dichroic GU10 that it is destined to replace. These are not to be confused with low voltage lamps – they are driven by 240v but they will bring many existing luminaires back into the sphere of low energy lighting.
The case of the Classic GLS Bulb
I won’t have to remind you of some of the truly weird shapes that have emerged in the attempt to replace the commonplace incandescent ‘bulb’. After all, we want a light source that is identical to the ‘Edison’ shape – visually compatible with table lamps, chandeliers (in the case of candle bulbs) and wall lights. Again, recent technological developments have helped manufacturers to find a design route to the past. In the case of the Integral GLS range – the LED filament provides an ideal solution for a lamp that emits light evenly in all directions akin to the traditional tungsten and halogen lamps that we know well. The mid powered LEDs are aligned on a thin strand of thermally conductive substrate and require relatively low power which translates into less heat. Additionally, the surrounding inert gas which is again highly thermally conductive, dissipates the remaining heat and effectively removes the need for an unsightly heatsink.
So the Dr Who props department can pack up and go home – the message is that we will be going back to the future of lighting!
If you are wondering how to use LED lighting to best effect in your next interior, give us a call at Orange Lighting for guidance and inspiration.