Designers are pushing the limits of lighting through shape exploration and unconventional materials

Until recent advancements with LED’s, designers had to work within the limitations of round or strip glass light bulbs. This meant most light fixtures functioned to hold, shade and shield light in basically the same ways. The small size of LED’s means that the light source can be integrated more stealthily into the design of a fixture. This has had the effect of transforming lighting fixtures from bulb holders to light emitting sculptures. During NYCxDesign 2017 we spotted a number of designs pushing the limits of form, materials and function.


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Aura is a new wall covering collection from Calico Wallpaper introduced at Sight Unseen Offsite. The design evokes unseen energies around us. Calico partnered with The Principals who created an interactive chandelier with hundreds of conductive rods. When touched, the chandelier illuminated with different light patterns and generated sounds.

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Transforma is a shapeshifting chandelier by Jacob Antoni. Each link is embedded with LED and the entire fixture can expand and contract to vary the spread of light.

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Alissa + Nienke is a material research focused design studio based in Eindhoven. Their pendant lights are made of laser cut porcelain which is woven and fired. The transparency of the porcelain reveals different patterns depending if the light is on or off.

Arrangements by

Michael Anastassiades for FLOS is a large scale modular lighting system although it was inspired by jewelry. The system is made up of a collection of illuminated geometric shapes that can be combined in a limitless ways. Power is transmitted through each shape via a hidden plug at each intersection.

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Finally, Two Parts is a Brooklyn-based lighting company that produces a line of 3D printed ceramic fixtures. LED’s are carefully located in each fixture to keep the source of the light as hidden as possible. At the 2017 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), Two Parts collaborated with artist Katie Shima who produced an eye-catching booth made of CNC-carved blue insulation foam.

Images: Dave Pinter, Ikon Productions

Until recent advancements with LED’s, designers had to work within the limitations of round or strip glass light bulbs. This meant most light fixtures functioned to hold, shade and shield light in basically the same ways. The small size of LED’s means that the light source can be integrated more stealthily into the design of a fixture. This has had the effect of transforming lighting fixtures from bulb holders to light emitting sculptures. During NYCxDesign 2017 we spotted a number of designs pushing the limits of form, materials and function.