Lumnes lamps inspired by photogenic algae

Here at Materia, we have discussed algae a lot, as they are a great source for bioplastic, for example. Luminescent variations also fire the imagination of designers to mimic these light-generating properties. Dutch product designer Isabel Bouwers was inspired by phonetic algae when swimming in Cambodia. To recreate this experience, she designed lamps called Lumnes in the shape of algae that, like some of the marine plants, light up when they come into contact with oxygen.

The shape of the lamps resembles those of the algae type Pyrocystis fusiformis, one with bioluminescent properties. Because the trade of glassblowing is used to make the lamps, each design is unique. During the crafting project, oxygen is used, which essential for the light to originate.

To recreate the effect of the algae lighting up when they come into contact with oxygen, the lamps do the same. Every light contains a LED light that is connected to an oxygen sensor. The brightness of the lamp changes if the amount of oxygen in the air changes. With more oxygen in the air, the lamps will shine brighter.

The Lumnes lamps consist of two layers. The outer layer is transparent, while the inner glass is matte. It is the inner part that lights up, mimicking the luminescent organ of the alga. To allow oxygen to enter the lamp, two small channels are added from the inner lamp to the outside.

The lamps only go out when there is too little oxygen in the air (by which time you should probably consider leaving or opening a window) or when the lamp is unplugged.

Photos: Isabel Brouwers