A light fitting designed by HASSELL, made entirely of beeswax and wick, has been awarded first prize in the 2011 Lightcycle competition.
Organised by architectural lighting firm Electrolight as part of July’s State of Design Festival in Melbourne, the competition asked designers to explore principles of environmental sustainability in their creation of a light fixture for a high-efficiency LED bulb.
Through its Waxlamp design, HASSELL wanted to take current sustainability discussions beyond carbon consumption and instead focus on the product’s life cycle in relation to that of our ecosystems.
According to government studies, around 65 per cent of agricultural production in Australia – including almonds, apples and pears – depends on pollination by European honeybees, which are currently experiencing a worldwide number decline.
We rely heavily on incidental pollination from wild bees when we really need more farmed bees, and therefore more beekeepers.
This is where the Waxlamp comes in. Its production raises awareness about this issue and also proposes a unique and constructive way to address it: if the demand for Waxlamps increased, so too would the demand for beeswax. It is hoped this will encourage more beekeepers to the industry or at the very least highlight beekeeping as a fundamental business for agricultural sustainability.
The lamp consists of a block of bees wax with a void in which the bulb sits. LED light bulbs don’t heat up like traditional a light bulb, which means beeswax could be introduced as a material for the light fitting.
Cast-in wicks, knotted up at the base, lift the lamp from its surface and together with small holes in the top create airflow throughout. At the end of the bulbs life, the light fitting can be turned upside down and the wicks used to burn the structure down to nothing – symbolic of all ecological life cycles.
The translucent properties of the wax give the lamp a unique quality, filtering the light into a beautiful, soft glow. The raw character of the material contradicts beautifully with the LED bulb and the lamp gives of a delicate scent when switched on.
The perceived fragility and softness of the material highlights the relatively short lifespan of our consumption goods – a theme that the HASSELL design team has enjoyed exploring.
First Prize – Lightcycle 2011