there is a trend afoot, perhaps inspired by the increasingly close quarters in which today's urban population is forced to live. Lighting is joining with furniture to create a hybrid that works as a light source as much as it does as a shelf or seating-or for that matter, as object d'art. For residential environments low on square footage or for those with a minimalist aesthetic, these products are more than just novelties.
Not surprisingly, Italian manufacturers are at the epicenter of this design phenomenon, and at their heart is Artemide. A company that has been pushing design boundaries for a half century, Artemide recently introduced its Light Objects series, featuring creations from several designers. Karim Rashid's Plodule is both a stool and an ambient light source in white, lemon yellow or light blue thermoplastic resin. The IP 65-rated luminaire can be sat on both indoors and out. His Time & Space piece is at once a clock and an oval-shaped diffuse light source atop a polished aluminum stem (3). Designer Carlotta de Bevilacqua developed Go to the Mirror for Artemide, which is-you guessed it-a mirror and light source in one (1). A semi-reflective surface treatment enables the glow from three fluorescents in colored gels to transform the square steel plate into an abstract art piece/wall sconce. Six variations are possible, depending on which of the three sources are turned on. This could give new meaning to the fairy tale phrase 'mirror, mirror on the wall.'
From Foscarini, Yet is a modular shelf system illuminated from within its ribbed plastic shell by a compact fluorescent (4). Available in white, orange, grey and yellow, the luminaire has a space-age form, and capable of holding 30 pounds, a dependable shelf life (pun intended).
Newer on the scene, but equally adventur-ous, manufacturer Rotaliana presents Multipot by designers Dante Donegani and Giovanni Lauda (5). A cable-management system disguised as a bucket-shaped light source, Multipot incorporates a multi-plug outlet with an LED board. A cover element hides the cords inside and provides a surface to set the items that are charging-or anything else that needs a place to rest.
Never too far behind, American companies like Chicago-based B-9 furniture are also crossbreeding household objects. At Lightfair 2004, B-9 introduced a prototype of its second line of illuminated seating, the Corona chair and love seat (2). Constructed with polypropylene sheet and polished aluminum extrusions, the geometric furniture emits light from six T4 fluorescents located in its base. The company lists the chair and love seat for a mere $2,600 and $3,200 respectively. (Clearly, this design phenomenon does not economize in every respect.) emilie w. sommerhoff