The LED bulb has been with us for decades, but it's been on a long journey from humble, utilitarian origins as automotive and gadget light to sophisticated lighting fixtures in high-end design. With lower prices and higher efficiency than before, LEDs are looking like the wave of the future for general lighting. They're not there quite yet. But that's about to change.
The market for LEDs for general purposes is expected to quadruple in the next five years according to McKinsey and Company. While for many that will mean simply replacing incandescent bulbs in existing lamps, designers showing at New York's recent Design Week have different ideas. Taking advantage of new possibilities provided by LEDs' compact size, low heat, range of color temperatures, and flexibility, as well as lower pricing and standardization in manufacturing, designers are exploring new territory beyond the traditional bulb-and-shade format and redefining what it means to be a lamp.
Here are some of the coolest ideas and what they're designers have to say about them.