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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Not-quite-halo LED

Prometheus unbound

Incandescent beauty

Corrugated comfort

Light from another world?

Plastic bag balloon

Eco-friendly fireplace

Victorian bio-elegance

Inspired by chainmail

Chain of light

Squeezed light

Don't touch

Magnetic wall

Barrel o' plants

Lock 'n' load

Bespunk

Many applications

Private space

Float

Lightning!

Something's cookin'

Stovetop in disguise

A bit more conventional

Can I get there by candlelight?

Play it, Sam

Sydney's design expo is over for 2012. We took to the show floor to scope out how design and tech mingled.

Alas, it was mostly flooring, fabrics and windows, but there were a few pieces that caught our attention.

We'd like to say that independent Melburnian designer Christopher Boots is thinking green with his quartz crystal-encrusted Diamond Ring pendant light, but the Simple Plus copper wall light behind it is burning incandescent bulbs. Still, both pieces are more art than practical lighting solution.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

The quartz crystals on the Prometheus light are set in resin to the brass ring mount. LED lights may last a long time, but they don't last forever, which is why Boots' studio will replace dead bulbs when they die off after a decade or so.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

St Ives designer David Knott imports special incandescent bulbs from Scandinavia for his clear, acrylic lamps. Although the importation of incandescent lights is illegal for general lighting purposes, Knott said there is an allowance if the bulb is for decorative or artistic purposes.

This table lamp uses the bulb to great effect — we love the reflection in the sheets of smoky, laser-cut acrylic that make up the lamp's shade and body.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

In the show's exhibition for recycled materials was the Wiggle Side Chair, designed by Frank Gehry in 1972. It's made completely out of recycled, reinforced corrugated cardboard. We'd worry about paper cuts.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

The Nectar 1/2 Pendant by Workshopped, also from the recycled materials exhibition, may be inspired by the hexagonal shapes in honeycomb, but the polyester fibre lampshade looks like something from an alien insect planet.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

We love this idea for reusing plastic bags. The Plastic Bag light by Blakebrough+King fits a shopping bag over a wire frame. It resembles nothing so much as a hot air balloon. We hope that the light source is LED; the plastic would surely melt from the heat of incandescent lights.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Ecosmart Fires' fireplaces use clean-burning bioethanol as fuel — which eliminates the need for a flue, since no harmful gases are produced. This means that they can also be portable, although the wall-mounted fireplaces tend to look safer.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

This is a new "Victorian" model from Ecosmart Fires. It's designed to fit into existing fireplaces — so if you're in an older home with a defunct hearth, this will slot right in, and look the part to boot.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Kaynemaile is a lightweight, plastic-screen material made up of many interlocking rings. Its inventor, Kayne Horsham, worked on The Lord of the Rings as the art director for creatures, armour and weapons, and was dismayed by the weakness in chainmail created by the join in each ring.

Kaynemaile is his solution, and it uses an injection-moulding process to produce a seamless, chainmail-style mesh. It's very strong and lightweight, and, while it has been mainly used for screens and curtains, it also has potential applications as a replacement for the traditional nets used in aquaculture, and, Horsham hopes, for cleaning up oil spills.

The plastic used is a single-polymer material that's 100 per cent recyclable, and the injection-moulding process produces zero waste.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Another of Kaynemaile's applications is light shading, and the result looks classy.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Just because incandescent bulbs are more mad science, doesn't mean that LED light fittings need to be boring. The Squeeze range by Nimbus is designed by the award-winning Karim Rashid, who imbues it with his characteristic flowing shapes. The range includes ceiling flush, pendant and wall-mounted settings.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Also by Nimbus, Roxxane is a range of LED lamps for table, desk and floor. A motion sensor on the top of the luminaire allows you to control the lamp by gesture. Waving your hand over the sensor turns the lamp on or off; holding your hand over the sensor allows you to control the dimmer switch.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

The flush Modul Q LED range is really easy to install; the fitting sits on a magnetic panel, which also allows easy access for maintenance.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

These planters, by Adam Cornish, remind us of nothing so much as Barrel o' Monkeys.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Unlike Barrel o' Monkeys, though, the planters are made from 100 per cent recycled plastic.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Bespunk is a spray-on plastic. It's both flexible and durable, and Dr Spunk sprays it onto found objects to create interesting new pieces that can work outdoors or in.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Also on display were: outdoor furniture; an old bicycle; and a pair of Chuck Taylors, which, according to the Bespunk representative, are eminently wearable. "The soles last longer than regular shoe soles," he said.

Bespunk's philosophy is about repurposing old objects and giving them new life, as well as decreasing waste.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Pod by Great Dane doesn't look very comfortable, but it's surprisingly cosy. The shell is made from recycled PET bottles pressed into felt, which, the company claims, creates a private, sound-proof environment.

We were sceptical, but sitting in the chair did bring with it a noticeable decrease in noise.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

The Float pendant lights, also by Great Dane, are hand turned from large blocks of recycled cork left over from the wine industry.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

TEC LED Lighting produces modular lighting that's been custom fitted to your space. We liked this one because it seemed amusingly meta.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

That indent in the bench top isn't a sink — it's a flush-fitting induction hob by Swiss kitchen-appliance manufacturer V-Zug. The hob only heats up when in direct contact with a ferromagnetic (or induction) cooking pan, which makes it safer than a stove that heats up independently.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Here, you can see the V-Zug induction stovetop. When not in use, it can be used just as another part of the bench, and its flat glass surface makes it easy to wipe clean.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

This V-Zug bench-top teppanyaki plate doesn't use induction technology, but it would still be awesome to have. It has a child-proof lock to make sure that it's not turned on accidentally.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

From a distance, these wax "candles" by Enjoy Lighting look like the real deal. It's not until you look inside that you realise they're actually lit by flickering, battery-powered LEDs — which means, provided you have batteries on hand, that you can still use them in a blackout, without worrying about burning your house down.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

What we have here is comprised of a few elements. First, we have the baby grand Weirthem Piano by Melbourne's Piano Time. Under the piano's keyboard is a speaker system and player piano, which streams music via Wi-Fi from the PianoDisc iPad app. The song will play through the speakers, and the player piano plays the piano part.

It's certainly not what we expected to find, but we thought it was way too cool not to share.

Caption by / Photo by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia
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