Sunday, 18 May 2014


If you're interiors mad and haven't come across the latest collaboration in flooring development from industry giant Desso and technology masters Phillips then you really do need to read on..and if you have, well still read, or perhaps skip to the ever so pretty images?

Back to the important stuff, design is invigorating, an aspect we all (regardless of personal taste) find visually appealing (and not so from time to time). So when we are flooded with new products, we can all readily lose ourselves in the design before us. Yet what seems all the more appealing is the products story, the construction, the development, the process in which an individual or team had to take to reach the final masterpiece. This for may of us is where a designers interests lay. I'm sure you've come across the following time after time; it's the journey, not the destination. A quote that couldn't be any more on point, yet something we all set aside.

This journey has not been short lived, 15 years later Desso and Phillips introduce a ridiculously intriguing and exciting concept between carpet and LED lights. Elements we wouldn't even think to combine, the rule of thumb typically being lights are for the ceiling and carpets belong on the floor, yeah? Well rules are made to be broken, and the Netherlands duo have curated something mind blowing. The carpet is embedded with light emitting diode technology that allows a designer to light up floors with anything from arrows and text to full blow imagery. How does it work? On Office spills the beans..

Final touches are important for such a pioneering bit of kit, as it could be the difference between a dead end and a global success, says Ed Huibers from Philips. “It’s a completely new concept, and patented, but there is competition. Other companies have tried to weave fibre optics into carpet, but it’s been on the market ten years and you’ve probably never seen it, because I don’t think it’s a realistic, scalable idea. Putting wires into carpet tiles will make production much more complicated; if you want to disturb that process, from a cost and scalability point of view, you’ll get nowhere.”
So Philips and Desso’s solution is to keep them separate, with two units developed hand in hand. The carpet has a specially adapted version of Desso’s recyclable EcoBase backing that allows light to pass through clearly, while the super-thin LED panels are built to be walked on, enclosed enough to protect against coffee spillages (without overheating), while still producing bright, sharp light. Between both company’s factories, the entire manufacturing chain is in-house.
Also, unlike the LED strips you see on aeroplanes, once the lights are off, they’re hidden. “In the end, we want to people to be surprised, inspired, guided – they see the effect without knowing what the technology is,” says Desso’s Stef van Ham. “Plus, if the interior is redesigned, the carpet can be changed without having to invest in new LED units, so the product has a longer life.”
Desso and Philips see the flooring being used in four ways: information, for example logos or branding images; inspiration, with decorative patterns and video; direction, with arrows or room numbers; and safety, with emergency signage for evacuations. 
It has been produced as a modular system, each module differing in complexity (and presumably cost) to be combined depending on the application. The simpler options are a symbol – a directional arrow, for example – or a backlit film, for a sharp logo image. It gets more complicated if you want a light kit, comprising lines and curves to create whatever shape you want, or a matrix, which is basically a screen under the floor to display the news, or the stock exchange perhaps.
Since the project began, LED technology has improved so dramatically that the project continues to evolve, and the exact details are not set in stone. “The LEDs we used when we started are not the ones we use now,” says Huibers. “They are becoming more efficient every year: the cost is going down and the power and brightness is increasing. If you gave us an order today for use in a year, we wouldn’t tell you what LEDs we’re going to use because they don’t exist yet.”

As the end consumer its so easy just to see the final outcome, and don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that. After all the final development is evidently what's going to sell. It's important though, to truly appreciate any element of design, to try and understand it's destination. Perhaps something we should all try to consciously do more of, not just in our preferred industry.


No comments:

Post a Comment