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DesignEx 2012

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

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michellestarr2.jpg

Michelle Starr

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1 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Not-quite-halo LED

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.

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2 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Prometheus unbound

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.

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3 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Incandescent beauty

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.

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4 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Corrugated comfort

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.

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5 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Light from another world?

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.

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6 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Plastic bag balloon

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.

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7 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Eco-friendly fireplace

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.

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8 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Victorian bio-elegance

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.

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9 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Inspired by chainmail

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.

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Chain of light

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

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11 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Squeezed light

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.

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12 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Don't touch

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.

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Magnetic wall

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.

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14 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Barrel o' plants

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

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Lock 'n' load

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

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Bespunk

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.

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17 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Many applications

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.

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18 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Private space

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.

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Float

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

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20 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Lightning!

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

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Something's cookin'

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.

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Stovetop in disguise

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.

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A bit more conventional

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.

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24 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Can I get there by candlelight?

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.

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25 of 25 Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

Play it, Sam

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.

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