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Save the Light Bulb!

Quite unexpectedly, a new resistance movement – “Save the light bulb!” - saw the light of the day at the FutureDesignDays Light Now conference 2009. The speakers – Ingo Maurer, Paul Cocksedge and Moritz Waldemeyer, along with the panel, consisting of Monica Förster, Sandra Edberg and Rikard Eduards – and a very enthusiastic audience defended the incandescent light bulb, which is now threatened with extinction. As Ingo Maurer said about the ugly low-energy bulbs: ”Nice engineering, terrible light”.

LightingWhat happens when light interacts with other materials? What happens when it passes through crystals, or gases, or liquids? What happens when a light source moves at speed, or is viewed in a mirror? These are the questions that inspire three of the most talented and pioneering lighting innovators of our time: Ingo Maurer, Paul Cocksedge and Moritz Waldemeyer. Each is more than a mere designer: their work crosses boundaries to embrace science, art, culture and business. None of these maestros is ever content simply to design another light fixture – they see each project as a chance to manipulate light in a new way, or discover a new property of this most mysterious of raw materials. Maurer, Cocksedge and Waldemeyer are true magicians of light, but they are also prophets, pointing to how lighting design will change in the future. At FutureDesignDays Light Now 2009, they discussed the latest trends, techniques and technologies that will affect the spaces we live and work in for years to come.

Light FieldIt goes without saying that climatic influence and sustainability gave rise to discussions at this year’s Light Now conference, as well as last year. But the challenging, the playful and the thought-provoking lighting design is definitely here to stay – of which moderator Marcus Fairs showed the audience some telling examples in his introduction; such as Pieke Bergman’s handcrafted crystal pieces ”Light Blubs”, Bruce Munro’s exterior installation ”Field of Light” and Peter Coffin’s UFO project. A very inspirational start of the conference, before the ”Poet of Light”, Ingo Maurer, took the stage.

"The incandescent light bulb; my first love”.

UFO LightThe audience was full of expectation to meet Ingo Maurer, who visited Stockholm for the first time, giving only his fourth speech throughout his whole career. Ingo Maurer took them back to childhood and day-dreaming; he often used to lie down in the grass, watching the sunlight shining through the crowns of the trees or being reflected in the water. The fascination of natural light and how it affects people is still an important driving force in his daily work. ”It is not the shape of anything that makes us feel good – or bad: it’s the light”, said Ingo Maurer with emphasis.

Thereof his love of the incandescent light bulb, now "living on borrowed time". ”The traditional light bulb was my first love”, Ingo Maurer said – with a smile, but undoubtedly being serious.

To Maurer, the incandescent light bulb stands for something existential and deeply human; to ban it would be devastating. Maurer had, however, a trump card: A new prototype of a modern light bulb ”for our souls and well-being” has taken shape in his head.

On the whole, 75-year old Ingo Maurer would like to see more “sane insanity” on the design scene of today, which according to him has stagnated in its expression. To get inspiration he likes to visit the Burning Man in Nevada, USA. ”I wasn’t sure that I would survive my first visit there”, said our greatest lighting designer with a laugh, and left the stage.

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