Light + Tech - Charge of the (portable) light brigade

Jill Entwistle takes us through some of the latest trends and breakthroughs

TO SAY THAT portable lighting has mushroomed in the past few years is an apt phrase. Not only have products in this field grown exponentially but mycology seems to be a bit of an underlying aesthetic inspiration. But now the category has got up some momentum, more imaginative designs have emerged. As with wired LED luminaires, rather than basing concepts on traditional tropes, designers are exploiting the particular qualities of solid state lighting, especially for compactness.

Other than residential applications, the natural home of the portable luminaire is the restaurant. Usually small scale, the wire-free, intimate source at the centre of the table is a natural substitute for the candle. Because they are suitable for outdoor as well as indoor use, there are also no issues with light sources being blown out in a strong breeze – and there’s plenty of time for recharging during the downtime before evening service.

The following three companies all launched their own iterations at this year’s Euroluce in Milan.

Lighting design:
Catellani & Smith

Ale BE T features a small cylinder that links the circular base to two slender elements forming a V shape. The aluminium base and tubes support the iron dome that can be rotated on a single axis, directing the light produced by a 1.5W (220lm) LED.

It certainly wins the prize for an ingenious way to conceal a fixing. The fly resting on the dome is a quirky detail that hides the screw which attaches it to the base of the lamp (black fly on the white version and white on the black version). As well as black and white, Ale BE T also comes in a vibrant fluo-painted version (orange, blue, yellow and magenta), and with a punchy combination of the primaries, blue, red and yellow.

There are three complementary wired fittings in the range: Ale C (ceiling), Ale BIG (table lamp) and Ale W (wall), also all semispherical and all featuring the fly detail.

While most portables are tabletop, there is a battery-operated floor lamp, the Giulietta BE, which also includes a table version. It consists of a thin rod, which originates from a circular base, and a circular disc surrounding it, apparently without any support. The disc concealing the light source is the distinctive feature of the lamp, and can be set to three different light intensities.

Lighting design:

Designed by Francisco Gomez Paz, Vibia’s new Africa collection is tactile and sculptural, featuring a slender, conical stem out of which emerges the compact head. It works both individually and, because of a certain anthorpomorphic quality, as a group.

Shaped from a single unit of pure aluminium, with a polycarbonate diff user, the density of the shaft and head is balanced by a counterweight at the base, providing stability while allowing the elegance of an elongated neck.

It is controlled by a simple push button at the head, the changeable LED light source (a warm 2700K, CRI 90) providing three levels of intensity – 100 per cent, 66 per cent and 33 per cent which allows 6.5, 10 and 20 hours of use respectively. For recharging, the shaft slides into a magnetised aluminium base, a neat continuation of its shape.

Image Credit: Kalory Ltd

Available in two sizes (45cm and 40cm high, both with a 5cm base), the luminaire has a lacquered matte texture and comes in four natural tones: light and dark beige, brown and terra dark.  

Lighting design:
Tom Dixon

Tom Dixon has introduced the Portables, a brand-new category of lights for the company. There are three designs in the range, Melt, Stone And Bell, all based on existing signature ranges. The Melt version is particularly eff ective and unusual, the optically playful diff user sitting on a slim conical base. It also complements the new Melt floor lamp, a scaled-up wired version.

‘No longer do we want to be tethered to a fixed desk or power outlet, so increasingly we want our light to move with us,’ says Dixon. ‘Thankfully technology has come to the rescue with powerful batteries and low-energy light sources combined to allow us to illuminate wherever we choose with complete adaptability...we want more flexibility in where we can illuminate and how we design.’

The Bell and Melt designs comes in gold, silver, copper and black options. The Portables range also has three dimmable settings.

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