Design New England

LED Mania

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iColor Flex MX gen2 are flexible strands designed for large installations. Each strand consists of 50 high-intensity, full-color LED nodes.

By Courtney Goodrich

You don’t have to be an expert to know that LED (light-emitting diode) lighting has taken over the market. The technology has developed faster than mobile apps since the first white-white (some would say unpleasant white) LED was introduced. Quality, variety, and price have improved to the point that it is now the darling of the lighting world. From residences to offices to hotels and restaurants, LEDs are solving problems and allowing seemingly endless opportunity for creative lighting installations for designers, architects, and their clients. At the recent Boston Lights Exposition, a biennial show presented by the Designers Lighting Forum of New England, at the Marriott Copley Place, more than 100 lighting companies showed off the latest in architectural lighting, most of which capitalize on the low-heat, color range, and small size LED technology allows.


An especially compelling product comes from Color Kinetics, a Burlington, Massachusetts, company that started in Boston and is now owned by Philips. Its programmable display of fabric panels (shown in the photo below) backlit with iColor Flex MX gen2 both aid in the acoustics of large spaces and provide a visual treat for the eyes.

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Photo: Lisa Wilder, Eduard Hueber
The Ground Café at the Yale University School of Engineering has an installation of Color Kinetics’ fabric paneling.
“This is like bringing the night club home,” says Lucy Dearborn of Lucia Lighting & Design in Lynn, Massachusetts, and Lighting Forum board member, who was our personal guide through the show displays. She was referring to Fred & Fred’s illuminated blocks. Conceived by French designers, Frederic Remaud and Frederic Gervais, both of whom studied at premiere Paris art schools, the fun, intriguing, and just plain cool-looking blocks have LED lights inserted into channels built into the bubbly glass. The result can be one color or a constantly changing display or multiple hues. The blocks can be built into small panels, columns, doors, or even a whole wall. Or one block could become a table lamp, sconce, or ceiling light.

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A display unit of Fred & Fred’s illuminated blocks.
FXLuminaire from California manufactures landscape and architectural lighting that combines the style and durability of brass and copper assembly with the technical advances in lighting. Custom options are plentiful — for example, the path light (below) comes in 13 finishes with additional amber, green, and blue filters. Deciding on filter color usually depends on what it is the fixture is lighting — white is more suitable for flowers, while amber or green are better for enhancing the appearance of greenery and grasses.

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A path light from FXLuminaire.
Large, sculptural pendants seem to be coming back in style. Who wouldn’t love one of these two by Fabbian? On the left is the New Jersey company’s Giro, made of aluminum. On the right is Cyclone, a swirling ceramic work of art. In the Giro design, LEDs’ small size is particularly important as it allows bulbs to be placed, almost unseen, in the small circle at the top of the sphere, leaving the space inside free and open.

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Pendant lights from Fabbian.
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