Lighting has been a persistent element of modern consumer electronics design since the early 20th century: early radios, vacuums, and ovens glowed with incandescent readouts. Little changed until the LED was introduced in the 1980s into consumer products, which revolutionized the ability of designers to add light both as a functional indication and an aesthetic element. Most lighting applications today are now LED-based, although new technologies such as electro-luminescence (EL) are becoming more widely adopted in select applications. However recent aesthetic developments in lighting as a purely aesthetic element seem to be technology-agnostic. Designers use the right technology for their intended effect, be it linear, graphic, glowing strips, glowing surfaces, or flexible strands woven into fabric. What has certainly declined is the simple hole-in-the-housing treatment where the raw LED shines through. More sophisticated treatments wash the lighting across surfaces, or refract through layers of translucency, or blur the line between form and light. Recently, Apple made the lighting detail disappear altogether by shining an LED through micro-perforated holes in their aluminum housings. Still waiting for those black-light LED’s to come out to light up my Zeppelin poster….


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  1. JK says:

    I love seeing new lighting methods! Just plain little LED lights are so boring, there is so much potential to do amazing things with them. Do you think kany of these other technologies for lighting will finally catch on? The flat strips are cool, but I hear they are expensive. Good examples, thanks!

    • AWOLtrends says:

      There are many potential lighting methods out there for production (LED, Electro-luminescent, light-pipes, edge-lighting, wash lighting, etc.), we’re still pretty far from achieving the flowing, glowing strips we all love to draw. We’re sure some smart scientist is working on a light-emitting plastic, which we believe is really the innovation that will push incredible new lighting methods. That really is the holy grail: a solid material, opaque or translucent, that emits a nice even glow over its entire surface without a bunch of integrated electronic components “faking” the effect underneath…Message to the scientist guy: hurry up!
      -AWOL Trends