The Solar Eclipse Story
Out of all the designs I have come up with over the years my personal favourite and in some ways the one which was the most challenging is the solar eclipse lamp. Realising this design became a labour of love. 9 years ago I had the idea of making a luminaire that resembled the globe in darkness! The design was actually inspired by imagery in a lighting magazine article about light pollution and also the hot topic at the time, the prediction of the LED revolution. I was trying to design a fitting using LED’s and initially I had thought each light on the globe would be a single LED. Madness! I quickly realised that wasn’t feasible but the idea had formed and a single light source in the centre of a perforated shade definitely was possible.
I’m not saying it took 9 years to figure out how to produce it. Naturally life got in the way and back then I was working full time as a lighting design consultant, however it was still a very long process that took a great deal of trial and error. The main challenge was the detail needed to make it instantly recognisable as the earth as seen from space. I approached numerous people to produce the shades for me including packaging companies, printers, sign makers and tool makers. I had some success with packaging production tools/techniques. However due to these methods, earlier prototypes had far less perforations than the current product and the shades were more of an abstract representation (see below).
I spent a lot of time devising ways to add more detail – more perforations. In the end I built a machine specifically designed to perforate the shades around 14,000 times each! It takes around 9 hours to perforate 6 shades. This will never be a mass produced product! But mass production isn’t what my products are about. Check out my Digital Craftsman post for more on that subject.
I have to credit NASA with the imagery I based the design on. The images they send back to earth and publish online are nothing short of breath taking! Check them out here – NASA images. The amount of light seen from space is constantly increasing as the world develops. Looks like Ill have to keep working on more detail!
Whilst these images have given me inspiration and in my opinion created a very unique lampshade I should mention that light pollution is a serious issue. It has negative effects on wildlife and blocks our views of the universe. There are ways to minimise light pollution with better design which are to some extent being implemented in the UK and other developed countries. More can definitely be done. I’m a believer that intelligent lighting control could turn lighting off in the public realm when not in use, just like my solar eclipse lamp should be! If you like to gaze at the stars take a look at the darkest areas near you on the NASA light maps and head there on a clear night, you will be amazed at the difference it makes.
Have a look at our Solar Eclipse product range: