There are two ways to design a luminaire. You can have the designer to shape it around the existing conditions. Or you can ask the designer to create something totally different. Then it is up to you to realise it.
”Actually, it is never a walk in the park to design a luminaire, as there are so many parameters to take into account. But of course, we can choose the level of difficulty and effort. This time, we wanted to create something extra ordinary”, explains Fagerhult’s Product and Application Manager Peter Björkman.
The Fagerhult development team decided for a design pitch and invited renowned designers to create ”the next generation office luminaire”. No rules, no limitations.
”Skywalker had us at hello. Designer Gustav Müller Nord and his team at the Above design agency had done some outside the box thinking that got our mind spinning. We knew it would be a tough one, but honestly we couldn’t resist it. The ultra slim profile, the tight dimensions and the eye-catching design felt brand new”, Peter says.
The design of the Skywalker turns contemporary luminaire design on its head. As many other luminaries, it takes advantage of the LED technology’s space saving properties. But instead of minimizing the luminaire body to a nothing, the Above design team decided to minimise – and maximise – the Skywalker into a something.
Only a tiny 36 millimetres at its broadest section, the Skywalker has stretched the limits of cutting edge engineering and production. But vertically – you are up for a surprise. Instead of continuing to squeeze the measures, they prolonged the silhouette, creating a graceful but confident persona that interact with and actually transforms the space around it.
”When designing a luminaire you cannot solely focus on the wonders of new technologies. Of course, it is amazing that we can reduce a luminaire into a visible nothing but it's a good idea to ask yourself for what purpose? When designing an office luminaire, I’m no longer forced into the shape of the fluorescent tube, but that doesn’t mean I should reject it,” Gustav muses.
”Even though the lighting technology has changed – the conditions are pretty much the same. We are still working at rectangular desks and the dimensions of our ceilings are still fixed to 1200 mm between suspensions. But most important of all: we still have an architectural context to relate to. The human perception of room and space has not changed. We wanted to create a luminaire that allows architects and interior designers to create spatiality – a body that interacts with space instead of disappearing.”
Skywalkers’ definitive characteristic is the opening between the two light sources. The shape is partly reincarnated from one of Fagerhult’s and Gustav Müller Nord’s previous collaborations, the Red Dot Award Best of the Best winning Open Box from 2006. A “black hole” with meticulously shaped gradients that catch the ambient light – created by the luminaire’s own light sources and the surrounding room – and reflects it back in a sculptural way.
”It’s a kind of magic. You cannot see the light sources, neither the direct or the indirect one, and suddenly there’s a space in the middle that seems to emanate light… its meant to be intriguing”, Gustav explains.
The extreme proportions and the delicate surfaces of Skywalker really put Fagerhult’s design engineers Kristin Hörnmark and Fredrik Beckius to the test. Everything – from LEDs to louvres to drivers and suspension brackets – all has been integrated within Skywalker’s slim casted aluminium body. With every small change, the engineers have adjusted the design to secure its original proportions.
”Our most complicated challenge was to meet Gustav’s vision of size and proportion without compromising lighting quality. As a premium office lighting solution Skywalker had to fulfil the requirements of EN12464 and URG19 – a fact that wasn’t up for negotiation. The trick was to create an extremely narrow luminaire design with a louvre that doesn’t give multiple shadows”, says Kristin Hörnmark.
For this, the team developed a brand new louvre – the Beta Opti Nano – based on the classic Fagerhult r5-technology but narrowed down into a minimum. This way, they managed to create the state of the art light comfort that a standard micro prismatic luminaires simply cannot offer.
”The Beta Opti Nano operates the direct lighting at the luminaire’s broadest base. The indirect lighting solution at the top offered a mere 11,5 mm to work with”, tells Fredrik Beckius.
”Actually, we didn’t have a LED-strip with the small measures to match. So we designed a new one. It is one of the benefits with having an in-house LED board production facility. If it’s not on the market, we can produce it ourselves.”
Putting Skywalker into production is the result of a close collaboration between Above, the Fagerhult design and design teams as well as dedicated toolmakers and suppliers.
”The success of a new design concept is proven when put in production. You’re not successful until it is effectively implemented into serial production. Personally I’m proud of the finish of this product. Every detail fits seamlessly into another, without any disturbing joints or irregularities. You can see it and feel it”, says Kristin.
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