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MONDO ARC

Ingo Maurer

issue 46 December / January 2008/9


As OLEDs look set to take the lighting industry by storm, mondo*arc speaks to Ingo Maurer, the first deisigner to work with the revolutionary new technology

When Osram Opto Semiconductors offered Ingo Maurer the opportunity to work with their ground-breaking OLEDs, the designer applied his expertise to explore the possibilities of this new light source with fascinating results that not only emphasise the innovation of the OLED, but also its aesthetic characteristics.

“I had been working as a graphic designer for some time when I quite suddenly had an idea for a lamp,” explains Ingo Maurer when I ask how he first became interested in lighting design. “It’s a story I have told many times,” he continues. “I was lying on a bed in a simple pension in Venice after a good lunch with wine, and, looking at the bare light bulb on the ceiling, I realised the extraordinary beauty of it. I had some prototypes of the glass part of Bulb (1966) made in
Venice, and so it started.” And the rest, as they say, is history. Or should that be, the future.

Dubbed the lighting solution of the future, OLEDs, or Organic Light Emitting Diodes, offer the potential of being considerably more economical than conventional low-energy bulbs in terms of electricity consumption, and are capable of being used in a variety of ways as flat, transparent, and flexible sources of light. According to Osram, they will provide ‘new opportunities in terms of design and performance’ and will ultimately be suitable for ‘general lighting for offices or as decorative lighting in stores’.

Maurer is fascinated by the characteristics of OLEDs: “They have a totally different look than traditional light sources,” he says. “They neither require reflectors directing the light into the right direction nor large sockets. Their lightness allows the realisation of long-standing visions of mine.” Maurer’s partnership with Osram began in 2006 with the creation of some experimental objects including an OLED coffee table. Then, in 2008, he created Early Future and Flying Future marking the emergence of the new technology. Early Future, a table lamp, is equipped with ten OLED modules and is the first OLED lamp to take home available as limited edition. Osram is committed to the promotion of progress in the new technology and proposed collaboration for this epoch-making project to Maurer in winter 2007.

In his design of Early Future, Maurer emphasises the aesthetic characteristics of the technical elements. As in his projects using LEDs, the parts are unveiled to accentuate their intrinsic beauty. Slight metal clips fasten the ten OLED modules to the lamp stem. Maurer calls his approach ‘a symbiosis of high-tech and low-tech’. He cites the solar sails of space stations or satellites as a possible source of inspiration for the shape  of the futuristic lamp.

“When I create a lamp, I try to achieve an object with a strong expression which gives a certain something to the room where it is placed,” explains Maurer. “I like to have technical details open, without a big body to hide them, and hoped to underline the special character of the OLED by just attaching them with little clips.”

The OLEDs used in Early Future have a light-emitting surface of 132 x 33mm2 whilst the modules on small-molecule basis already achieve a lifetime of 2000 hours, and efficiency lies at 20 lm/W. The diffused light emitted by the radiant surfaces reduces shadows and unwanted reflections – such as on computer screens, features that are advantageous to illuminating work desks. Maurer adds: “It’s a different quality of light. For me, the evenly glowing flat rectangles are somehow futuristic and amazing.”

Flying Future is the larger suspended ceiling lamp version. It consists of an airy metal mesh to which around 100 of the white luminous panels are attached. By bending the mesh Maurer shapes the object according to his imagination, in a wave-like rhythm.

The development of Organic Light Emitting Diodes is progressing at a rapid pace. The ambitious objectives set by Osram lead to an exciting market forecast: the market introduction in 2008 will be followed by a variety of totally new and intriguing applications, then in a third and final step, the huge market in general lighting can be supplied with OLED.

Maurer remains quietly in awe of it all and although clearly proud of his OLED inventions, refuses to be typecast. “I don’t think I have a design philosophy,” he says. “I wish to remain free of a fixation to a certain style, which I think is apparent in the diversity of my ideas and objects. Also, I think it is important for a well designed product that one can still perceive the human being behind it, as well as the process of production.”

Maurer and his team are currently working on a number of projects throughout the world as well as the launch of their new showroom in Munich, Kaiserstrasse 47, expected to open in December.
www.ingo-maurer.com

 

Ingo Maurer Ingo Maurer
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