Technology Tales

Tizio Lamp, Richard Sapper for Artemide, 1972

Richard Sapper's Tizio desk lamp is an icon in the catalogue of great lights. The integrity of its design, which relies on a small light source, has stead it well as lamp technologies have evolved, and allowed it to remain as one of the “it” design objects to have. Its aesthetic and technical perfection is achieved through its construction: two counterbalanced arms allow it to move with tremendous ease and serve as the electrical conduit for the lamp's power supply, a 12V transformer in its base. But it is its use of low-voltage lighting (originally using a halogen lamp) that provides directed task illumination in a small footprint. The lamp's sculptural qualities and technical performance garnered it the prestigious Compasso d'Oro award in 1979.

Lighting Controls and Sensors

Lighting-control systems and sensors have come a long way since they were first introduced in the 1980s. First-generation products were not perfect, and often seemed to have a mind of their own as they did—and did not—respond accurately to user occupancy. Once considered a luxury to incorporate into a lighting design scheme due to the added layer of equipment and wiring—and, by extension, cost—lighting controls are seen today as a necessity and one of the primary means of energy-efficient and cost-effective lighting solutions.

Linear fluorescent lamps: T12, T8, T5

Although early forms of fluorescent lamp technology existed at the beginning of the 20th century, it wasn't considered a commercially viable light source until German inventor Edmund Germer filed a patent in 1926–1927. By the mid-1930s, engineers at General Electric were busy at work, and launched an entire research and development group dedicated to it. GE introduced a fluorescent lamp prototype at the 1939 World's Fair, and a new segment of the lighting industry was born overnight, producing a wave of luminaire and reflector design as well as ballast developments. As the lamp has been improved for performance and efficacy, its diameter has been reduced, opening up more possibilities for luminaire design and installation. Linear fluorescent lighting solutions have come to define commercial interiors and office spaces. Although legislation is now in place to eliminate the oldest of the fluorescent lamps—the T12—starting July 1, its forerunners—the T8, T5 and T5HO—remain some of the best performing and most cost-effective lighting options available.

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