Lighting is probably the most fun element of home design. Sure, you have to work out where all your electrics are going – which can be somewhat tedious. However, when it comes to choosing the fittings, that’s when you can begin to experiment and characterise your space.
As has been noted many a time on this blog (see 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5), there are endless ways to make lights from second life materials and objects. And when it comes to eco chic lighting, it seems that paper pulp, cardboard and paper mâché can offer designers a wealth of opportunities.
Paper might seem like the humblest of materials, but as illustrated here, in the right hands it can become something truly elegant, contemporary and magical. Read on for some of the best examples of paper lighting, alongside small introductions to some of the designers.
RCA graduate Pia Wüstenburg runs Piadesign, a design studio based between East London and North Germany, which focuses on design for craft production. She also runs her own brand called Utopia & Utility.
You’ll see from Pia’s portfolio that natural materials such as wood, glass and paper are key to many of her designs. As part of her degree at the RCA, she created a material called Processed Paper, made from rolled and glued waste paper (see above). The material has been used for a wide range of products, including beautiful gem like paper beads that are threaded on to furniture legs. This lighting collection, called Paper Productions, is handcrafted by artisans in Ahmedabad, India:
Purchase these delicate Paper Light Clusters (available in red and white or blue and white) from the Piadesign online shop.
Twin Tone shades by Joff & Ollie
Designers Joff and Ollie (pictured below) created their Twin Tone lampshades in collaboration with Little Greene. The lampshades are available in a variety of colourways, all matched to shades of paints by Little Greene. Screen printed on the inside and out, they are made of two sheets of heavyweight paper bonded together, making the product recyclable and biodegradable. The paper is manufactured by GF Smith, one of the oldest speciality paper makers, based in the Lake District.
Joff Casciani and Ollie Wood are the creative directors of Lane, a Nottingham-based company specialising in homeware. Dedicated to sustainability and craftsmanship, they work with skills and materials found locally in the UK wherever possible. They also carefully monitor the sourcing of all the raw ingredients contained in each product.
Maria Fiter is a designer working in Barcelona who makes handmade lighting made from paper mâché and wood. Under her brand Crea-re, she creates paper pulp from unwanted newspapers and crafts beautiful unique desk lamps and shades.
The Copernicus collection is inspired by the planets (see pendant Globe in blue above) and has been featured by Vogue and Elle Decoration. The tear drop shaped yellow shade pictured is called Mizuko which means ‘daughter of water’ in Japanese. All lamps are available in dozens of colours.
The grey, porous, irregular, dry and cracked appearance of the lamps is inspired by work of the Polish artist group called Grupa Nowohucka who were practising in the 1950s and 60s.
Lights can be ordered via the online shop here.
Beute Lichtobjekte by Herrwolke
Michael Konstantin Wolke is a Berlin based spatial and product designer. His Beute Lichtobjekte is made of dissected and rearranged recycled corrugated cardboard, giving each lampshade its unique graphic characteristics.
Egg of Columbus by Seletti
Valentina Carretta is the designer behind the Egg of Columbus lights which are made from moisture-resistant recycled paper – the kind used for egg boxes. Sold by Italian brand Seletti, the lamps comprise a frilly cardboard lampshade, ceramic lamp holder and fabric cord..
So why the name? It derives from the story of Christopher Columbus breaking the egg. When his critics exclaimed that his discovery of the New World was unremarkable, Columbus replied that it could only be considered easy, because someone had demonstrated how it could be done. He made his point by challenging them to make an egg stand on its end. His solution was to crush one end against the table, so it could stand up on its own. Easy when you know how…
The pendant light comes in the three different styles and along with the table lamp are available in natural, green, anthracite, pink, light blue. The Seletti online shop is only available in Italy, however you’ll find lots of international dealers listed here.
Scraplights by Graypants
Scraplights made from recycled corrugated card were one of the first products launched by the award-winning design studio Graypants, whose beautiful waterfront cabin we recently featured here. Now they have released a white Scraplight series made from FSC-certified corrugated card. The lamps are handmade in the Netherlands, in partnership with a social works program which provides craft-based jobs. Purchase online from the Graypants shop or contact for international order.
City Lights by The Paper Moon Factory
Another favourite, previously featured here, are these enchanting City Lights lampshades by The Paper Moon Factory. They would be perfect in a child’s bedroom (or any room for that matter). The whimsical lights, sculptures and figurines created by Dutch artist Marion Westerman are like a children’s book brought to life. See items available for sale on her Etsy page.
Kurage by Foscarini
The beautiful domed Kurage lamp by Foscarini was born out of a collaboration between the Japanese design studio Nendo and Italian designer Luca Nichetto. The lamps are handmade from the finest Japanese washi paper. Washi is commonly made using fibres from the bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub or paper mulberry. The lamp is appropriately named Kurage which means jellyfish in Japanese. The translucency of the washi gives the shade a soothing glow. Available to buy from Made in Design.
Trash Me table lamp by & tradition
The Trash Me lamp is the brainchild of Victor Vetterlein and was launched in 2010 by &tradition. The lamp is made from paper pulp which has been spread over a mould and left to dry and then weighed down by a piece of concrete in the base.
The theme of transience behind the design is a comment on our short-lived allegiance to things, due to ‘the constant expansion of opportunity’ driven by the internet. As the ‘Trash Me’ name denotes, the lamp has an ephemeral existence: the owner is encouraged to recycle it after it’s no longer useful or desired. The lamp can be easily disassembled and the parts reused or recycled. Available to buy from The Lollipop Shoppe.
Netherlands-based LetoLab specialise in making objects produced by laser cutting and 3D printing. Using parametric design means they can use algorithms (within chosen or randomly generated parameters) as well as handcrafting, to create one of kind products. It’s hard to believe this organically shaped Floating Ball lampshade is made from corrugated cardboard. Available to order on Etsy.
Pulplites by Dear Human
Montreal-based design studio Dear Human are dedicated to thoughtful production techniques. They often come up with designs by experimenting with industrial cast off materials. As a result, Jasna and Noel have created a number of products from recycled paper pulp, including furniture and wall tiles. Their Pulplites (pictured) continue to evolve and are now in their third generation. Tops are made of coloured porcelain and the shades from recycled paper pulp. Purchase from their online shop here.
So there you have it, the potential of paper was more than we knew – and will no doubt continue to evolve.
My biggest tip for lighting? Nothing creates a homely ambience than pools or ‘layers’ of light created by a mix of light sources (three for example). Use table lamps, floor lamps, up lights, down lights to highlight some of the more handsome areas of the room and create interest.
Picture credits: 1st image – Cypisek lamp by Crea-re and all others attributed to the designers mentioned.