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Low energy light meets high design

posted 25 Oct 2010, 03:13 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 25 Oct 2010, 03:16 ]
A small London design agency called Hulger is launching the world's first designer low-energy light-bulb, in an attempt to win consumers over to more sustainable way of life.

UK-PLUMEN BULB - Here's a bright idea. A low energy lightbulb, with a twist - it's designed to be aesthetically pleasing.

It's called The Plumen 001 and is the creation of Hulger, a small London start up co-founded by Nicolas Roope.

Nicolas Roope, Hulger Co-Founder saying:

"The inspiration is really that we know that we should be using low energy light bulbs but they're horrible. So we thought we'd fix it by making a nice one - it's really simple."

For this new design to take off, it must take on a design classic.

Incandescent bulbs have changed very little since Thomas Edison first made them commercially available in 1879. There have been efficiency improvements, but they reached a limit about a half century ago.

Increasingly governments have been moving to phase out the traditional - energy hungry - designs in favour of low energy alternatives. Public enthusiasm for the shift however, has not been what you'd characterize as glowing.

Duncan Riches, Creative Consultant, SCP saying

"People won't exchange what they already have for something that's sustainable if its ugly or the design quality isn't the same."

Duncan Riches is a consultant for the London design store SCP, one of the first retailers to stock the new compact fluorescent light.

 Duncan Riches, Creative Consultant, SCP saying

"It's an environmentally sound product and it's part of that sustainable living idea. I think it lasts eight times longer than a normal bulb and uses 8 times less energy, or something like that. But at the same time, it's got a slight mystique about it. It's an interesting product visually."

To begin with, the Plumen will only be available in Europe. In the UK, its retailing for 20 pounds which is about 31 dollars and a great deal more expensive than what consumers are accustomed to spending on a lightbulb.

Michael George Hemus, Hulger Director saying:

"Lightbulbs have always been a low value item. People pay 50 p for them.."

Michael George Hemus is a director at Hulger and says he believes the high price for the low energy bulb needs to be seen in context.

Michael George Hemus, Hulger Director saying:

"Because we can charge a bit more we can use a better grade of phosphor, which is the powder to coat the tubes and we can use slightly better electronics so it means we get a longer lifetime. It starts up much quicker, almost instantly and we get what to me is very important - a nice warm white light."

Roope says The Plumen also addresses another criticism that's levelled against some low energy bulbs - that the light they emit is of lesser quality.

Nicolas Roope, Hulger Co-Founder saying:

"We're using some more expensive technologies in the mix that just give a nicer quality light and faster switch on."

Hulger already has one design success in its past - an array of retrofitted handsets designed for use with internet-calling tool Skype and more recently the iPad.

But this new light represents an even more daring attempt to rework a familiar item to bring it in line with the needs of the modern day - the payoff too, stands to be much greater.

Matt Cowan, Reuters