When it comes to making your home more energy-efficient, one of the easiest places to start is by simply switching all your incandescent light bulbs to LEDs. But what about the lamp you’re putting that bulb in? Chances are, it’s a mass-produced, nonrecyclable object that’s not eco-friendly. It’s time for an upgrade. An increasing number of designers are eschewing shortsighted manufacturing methods and crafting lighting fixtures using renewable plant polymers and other postconsumer materials.
Here are seven of our favorite lighting studios—from industry veterans to newcomers—that make green design look gorgeous.
The Bay Area–based lighting company has made its name by taking a hard look at the outdated systems of traditional manufacturing and running in the opposite direction. Its 3D-printed fixtures—from designer Sam Gwilt’s moonlike Weight table light to Louis Filosa’s quirky Cantilever floor lamp—are made using a recyclable material derived from corn and sugarcane. On-demand production eliminates unnecessary waste.
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LED lighting has come a long way since it started going mainstream more than 20 years ago. Industry pioneer Tala remains a leader in the field by marrying high-performance with interesting styles that you won’t want to hide behind a shade. The London-based studio’s mouth-blown Voronoi series, for instance, features organic shapes and delicate filament wisps, while the simple, matte Porcelain bulbs are more suited to a clean, minimalist aesthetic.
A deep connection to nature defines David Trubridge’s design philosophy. The shape of each fixture inspired by organic phenomena—snowflakes, microscopic diatoms in the oceanic food chain, feather patterns of the Tui bird—and pieces are also made using sustainable bamboo and shipped as a flat kitset to be assembled by the buyer, thereby reducing packaging needs.
Recycled corrugated cardboard becomes ethereal in the hands of Graypants’ talented team. This humble, postconsumer material is the foundation of the Seattle-based studio’s flagship Scraplights collection of pendants and table lamps, which are fashioned to evoke organic forms like ocean-worn beach pebbles or delicate birds’ nests. The brand’s whimsical Wick candlestick channels the romance of a bygone era.
Sustainability is at the core of Danielle Trofe’s work, which takes a scientific approach to product design by involving collaboration from biologists to "grow" light shades from a mushroom-based compound. The boundary-pushing MushLume collection includes the shapely Trumpet pendant and cascading Stagger chandelier—all crafted from mushroom mycelium combined with other postharvest, organic material like corn stalks and seed husks. Each shade is completely biodegradable, so at the end of its life, you can add it to your garden soil to grow something new.
The Spanish studio LZF established a new lighting style in 1998 with the twisted Nut pendant, in which delicate swoops of steamed wood veneer are woven to look like fabric. Since 2012, the company has worked exclusively with responsibly sourced, FSC-certified plywood. Packaging is made from recycled cardboard, and biodegradable bags are used to protect each lamp from scratches during shipping.
Plumen bills itself as the creator of the first low-energy, designer light bulb, which was a sculptural take on the spiral CFL version they debuted in 2010. Thanks to advances in technology over the past decade, the company has been able to reengineer its Plumen 001 bulb as an LED, making it even more long-lasting. Plumen also collaborates with designers to create fixtures suited to its bulbs, like the industrial chic Hive shade by Luke Deering.
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