Editor’s Foreword: This article consists of writing from the Editor as well as Plumen.
On one hand I can count the number of times that I have gotten excited about energy efficient light bulbs. One time was during my first attendance of the 2010 Ecobuild in London when I came across Plumen’s sleek and sculptural compact fluorescent (CFL) that was not your typical corkscrew CFL. Five years and a few versions later, I’m giddy again about Plumen’s recently launched Plumen 002 LED, a dimmable LED bulb with an elegant design complemented by better quality of light, warmer tones, and better energy efficiency than those of its CFL predecessor.
Following three ground-breaking CFL designs, designer lighting brand Plumen has recently introduced The Plumen 002 LED, a revamp of its CFL model upgraded with improved technology. Originally developed as an alternative to the Thomas Edison light bulbs, also called “Squirrel Cage” filament bulbs, the Plumen 002 LED pushes the resemblance even further by adopting LED technology. Its dimmable feature enables versatile lighting applications including situations where subtle lighting controls are needed for creating the right ambience. Its use of LED technology also means better energy efficiency. The Plumen 002 LED is a 4-watt bulb that gives off light equivalent to a 25-watt incandescent light bulb, which means it uses 80% less energy and lasts up to eight times longer than incandescent light bulbs.
The design concept of the Plumen 002 – blowing the glass tube into a mold – was a totally new approach that had not yet been applied to any mass produced light bulb. When Plumen started investigating the manufacturing process four years ago, there were some promising LED filaments available but they were still in the early development stages and unable to fulfill the Plumen 002 concept requirements. Eventually, those LED filaments were able to catch up with Plumen’s design needs and the Plumen 002 LED project went live.
The design of Plumen 002 takes a completely new approach to bulb production, sculpting the tube to create a sensual object. The bulb’s simplistic looping shape attempts to capture a sense of infinity, similar to that which can be felt from the sculptures of Barbara Hepworth, a major inspiration for the designers while developing the light bulb. The mouth-blown glass envelope was shaped to create different light textures within the bulb, to make the light quality as intriguing as the form itself.
Plumen’s light bulbs hold their own ground. They can be hung bare as a sculptural element, or hung within a lamp shade. They can be hung individually or in groups to make a larger impact. The Original Plumen 001 (CFL bulb), designed by Hulger in collaboration with Samuel Wilkinson, comes in two sizes. Plumen 002, designed by Hulger and Bertrand Clerc, comes as a CFL bulb or a LED bulb. Wattage ranges from 4 to 11 watts and color temperatures range from 2200K- 2700K. Drop cap pendants for the light bulbs come in five colors and a variety of lamp shades are available. Plumen strives to keep prices competitive and make its designs available through as many stores as they can, selling in seventy-five countries. Online purchases can be made in the UK, Europe, and the US. By balancing efficiency and design with practical realities, Plumen brings desirable energy efficient bulbs to a wider audience.
The first Plumen prototype was collected by The MoMA New York curator Paola Antonelli and the Plumen 001 is also in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Design Museum in Helsinki. The Plumen 001 was awarded the Brit Insurance Design of the Year by the Design Museum in London and the prestigious Black Pencil at the D&AD awards in 2011.
In 2004, Nicolas Roope (Nik) met Michael-George Hemus (MG) and one year later they founded London-based Hulger (formerly Pokia), a design studio that uses design to bring the best out of new and existing technologies. In 2007, Nik, who was trained as a sculptor, had the initial idea for Plumen and MG worked out how to bring it to life. Together they wanted to find a better way to convince people to use less energy with their lighting. A crash course in light bulb manufacturing followed and after a few detours, Nik and MG founded Plumen in 2010.
A huge round of applause to Nik and MG for radically re-imagining the form of the light bulb and creating the Plumen line of products that are helping to shape a new attitude towards low-energy bulbs.