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126 TECHNOLOGY / LED


Thomas Schielke looks back at the last decade and presents his pick of 99 spot and task lights that demonstrate the gradual adoption of LED technology.


A DECADE OF DESIGN


Our first decade with white LED light reveals how designers have implemented new technology in existing housing, added LED as part of a product group or created a unique design specifically for LED. A focus on the development of task lights and spotlights vividly shows the dialogue between form and technology. In the early stages of LED adoption, low light output necessitated applications with short distances between the luminaire and the illuminated object, as exemplified by the dominance of table and task lights early in the timeline. High power LEDs, which became popular around 2006, enabled longer distances to be achieved and so track fixtures began to emerge. Although LEDs, including colourful RGB LEDs in decorative fixtures, have been on the market for over ten years, LED light in architecture started with white light for a good visual performance. The timeline includes international designers and architects like Norman Foster or Yves Behar and luminaires from 2001 up to the designs presented at Euroluce 2011 in Milan.


Design: Minimal design for small LEDs The “El.E.Dee” design from 2001 by Ingo Maurer tells the story of an early experimental design with a bare LED board held by gripping pliers. In contrast to the small low-voltage tungsten lamps that have often been used for task lights, the tiny LEDs allow even smaller profiles (Brazo, 2006). Many designers were inspired by the miniature size of LEDs and developed slender forms with minimal design (Line Z, 2006). A major change in the visual appearance of LED luminaires derived from the LED boards because a single LED would not emit sufficient light. Later, high


power LEDs with a higher lumen output made arrangements with less LEDs - or even with a single LED - possible (Zufall, 2008). New technical challenges like thermal management induced high tech details ranging from an active cooling fan (Halley, 2005) to distinctive passive cooling fins (Lotus, 2006) to ensure a high lumen output and LED longevity. The visibility of LED dots is often used to form an expressive statement to differentiate the LED from traditional luminaires and to identify it as a modern fixture (Tempura, 2007).


Technology: New optical systems and thermal management for high performance


The ‘miniaturisation euphoria’ about tiny 5mm LEDs was initially quite limited because of their low light output. Good visual performance required a number of LEDs. Some designers handled this challenge by forming a row of LEDs in small but long profiles (Z-Bar, 2005), others with an array of LEDs (INA, 2008). The most critically technical aspect for designers was the thermal management of LEDs. If not designed correctly, it could lead to lower light output and shorter longevity. Designers also had to rethink their traditional optics approach to include reflectors to direct the light. Due to the specific light distribution of LEDs, systems with lenses can be more efficient. Changeable modular lens systems enabled different lighting distributions with a single fixture (Logotec LED, 2011). New lighting features like changeable colour


temperatures from warm white to cool white offered new features for designers. Thereby, the luminaires require a two- dimensional interface: One for brightness and one for colour temperature. To enhance the modern appearance some designers implemented smooth-touch dimmers to control the light (Leaf Lamp, 2006). Despite the state-of-the-art impression of LED fixtures sales only increased slowly in the early stages due to financial and light quality constraints. The initial high costs of LEDs decreased with the onset of mass production. In contrast to the initial small run, high-end production of luminaires, Ikea brought out a basic task light including photovoltaic cells for about 20 EUR significantly changing market perception. The early light challenges caused by the low lumen output and the low colour rendition index have been drastically reduced in recent times. A full version of this text can be found on our website. To read more observations about the development of LED fixtures - and to see a special video presentation of the time-line - go to www.mondoarc.com Thomas Schielke is the author of Light Perspectives - between culture and technology. www.arclighting.de


Brazo Pablo Pardo Itis


Artemide


Line Z Nimbus


Halley Lucesco Lighting


Lotus Journee LumeLex El.E.Dee Ingo Maurer Sui Artemide


MIX Luceplan Z-Bar


Koncept 2001 2002 2005 2006


Lighting Services Leaf Lamp


Herman Miller


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