Lights with patterns created by bacteria

Swedish designer Jan Klingler created lights coloured by the growing patterns of bacteria, yeast and fungi.

Through the help of microbiologist M.D. Ph.D. Volkan Özenci and an extensive period of exploration and prototyping, Klingler gained necessary knowledge and expertise to ensure a broad colour palette and the best growth patterns possible.

To create the designs, Klingler lets the bacteria, fungi and yeast grow in a resin disk for between 24 and 48 hours on a nourishment of agar, a gelatin derived from seaweed. The nourishment ground is fluid in the start of the process, but begins to harden by the time Klingler adds the bacteria to grow.

The colours are produced either by the bacteria themselves, like serratia, a bacteria found in the human mouth that gives an orange-red colour, or the nourishment. When the desired effect is achieved, the disks are sealed to deprive the cultures of oxygen so they stop growing. The resin plates are then wired up to a LED disk or module. The light shines through the transluscent cultures.

The lamps come in four variations, all inspired by laboratory equipment and mouth-blown in Sweden. One is inspired by a petri dish, one by a Kolle flask, which resembles a flattened lightbulb, and one shaped like a Fernbach flask, which comes in two sizes.

According to Klingler, the project challenges the user “to see a new connection between the object and themselves by creating a visible link through bacteria, shining a light on the very thing we thought should stay hidden and putting it on display.”

“We all consist of 10 times more bacteria than human cells. Every living being and place has its own unique and personal microbiological fingerprint,” Klingler continues. “In a crossover between science, art, and industrial design, the bacteria lamp uses this fact to create stand out conversational pieces.”

The aim is to offer bespoke lamps in the future, made with swap samples from the client to create a very personal lamp.

The Bacteria lamps are currently on display as part of the Young Swedish Design exhibition at ArkDes in Stockholm, until 31 March.

Photos: Jan Klingler