Greetings, Kitchen and Residential Design readers - I'm Sarah Lloyd, I blog at KitchenClarity, mostly on kitchen and bath design, but sometimes on whatever takes my fancy that day. Thank you Paul, you are very brave to open up your esteemed publication to the likes of me.
I've just got back from KBIS, and yes, Paul's Sketch-up/American Gothic presentation was magnificent - I hope he'll be putting the whole thing up on the blog for you all to see. Naturally that was the highlight of the show, but I did also manage to notice a few other things - including how LED lighting is creeping - no, stampeding - into everything kitchen & bath. You can have it in shower heads, faucets, sinks, tubs, tiles, counter tops and just about any other surface you could think of, as well as "ordinary" applications like light fixtures:
Tub with LED Mood Lighting by Kaldewei
I think that all artists and designers - product, interior, industrial, etc. - have a secret and maybe subconscious envy of lighting designers: they get to work with the fundamental element that makes all other design possible. After all, those first paleolithic cave-painters at Chauvet wouldn't have produced anything at all without the man or woman holding the torch for them, would they?
32,000 Year Old Decor - Cave paintings at Chauvet in France
Show me an interior designer who doesn't own way too many light fixtures (and chairs, but that's another story) for their space, and I'll show you someone who isn't really a designer. So it's my theory that the coming of age of the LED as a reliable, cool, energy efficient, inexpensive and controllable light source is bringing out the repressed lighting designer in all the product and industrial designers. And in fashion designers too:
Ingo Maurer & Janet Hansen, 2002
Rhyme & Reason Creative
Now sometimes the LED lighting serves a practical purpose, in faucets and showers the light can change color to indicate the temperature of the water,
Rettangolo by Gessi
you could argue that if your vanity sink doubles as a softly glowing LED lamp you won't need a night-light in the bathroom,
Toto "Halo" Vanity Sink
and the folks at Rhyme&Reason very reasonably point out that their garments can be used as lamps too, rather than just hanging wastefully in the closet when you are not wearing them.
I think that's all baloney, or what the designers told their marketing departments (same thing?) - they are designing with light because they finally can without melting anything or burning anyone or giving them an electric shock or a shocking electricity bill, and because it's the most fun thing to design with as well as the most fundamental.
I do wonder where all this will leave us in the sustainability equation? We have this technology that lets us produce light with much lower energy costs than ever before, but we are using it to put said light into all sorts of applications that never needed light before. Even if they last 20 years, all those LED semi-conductor boards will eventually have to be broken up and their raw materials laboriously reclaimed or recycled. Are we just chasing our own tails? We're having enormous fun with it, but that, according to my dog Daisy, is pretty much what tail chasing is all about.