– The purpose of this project was to design products unconventionally and to produce them in a small-scale series
For us, a product should not attract attention through overloaded design. Instead, it’s about the thought – the idea – coupled with intelligent design, which helps bring the product into existence. The product’s final design should be about elaborating things more deeply and understanding the world around us better. In short, it’s about designing a better future. An example of this is the product development of Schwarzes Gold: Schwarzes Gold does not begin with its material nor end with its form. The lamp wants to bring light into the darkness by making people think. Its story is about responsibility, conviction, and sustainable design.
Today lamps with energy-saving light bulbs are titled as “eco-friendly.” For granted, saving energy is a fundamental principle for sustainable design, but it is only a fraction of the whole. In a time characterized by vanishing natural resources, climate change, and toxic waste, the eco-friendliness of a lamp depends on more than just its light bulb. The materials used, the production process, the packaging, and its disposal must be considered.
As designers of the future, it is our responsibility to pay attention to all of these aspects. This is why Schwarzes Gold transforms words into action and calls for shifting to whole-system thinking within the industry, economy, and consumers.
– During the material selection for Schwarzes Gold much consideration was given to the materials’ simplicity and their compatibility with nature. The black lampshade is made out of 100% natural materials. The binding agent, consisting of flour and water, is mixed with FSC-certified charcoal powder. Next, the liquid substance is poured into the form and baked for a few hours at low temperature, which keeps the ecological footprint of Schwarzes Gold low. During this process, the copper form is baked into the black charcoal mix, which creates a solid bond between the two elements. After the baking process, the now firm and non-staining material is removed from its mold by hand. The pressed copper sheet serves as a reflector for the energy-efficient LED-bulb and gives the light an inviting, warm reflection.
Even though the burning of coal emits climate warming and polluting greenhouse gases, to this day, this fossil fuel is still Germany’s number one energy source. Given this problematic issue, the charcoal is not burned, but its use was deliberately not foregone. The lamp’s thought-provoking deep black coal material wants to remind customers that they also have a responsibility. When looking at Schwarzes Gold consumers are reminded to also think about where their electricity is actually coming from and to switch to renewable energy sources. When Schwarzes Gold reaches the end of its life span, the charcoal material can beeasily dissolved in water. Thus, the 100% biodegradable organic material is given back to nature and the rest can be recycled separately.
– The production process starts in Erfurt, Germany. With a Spin Crafters Beading Tool, a copper plate is pressed around the lathed wooden form. To do this, the copper is softened through heat. Then the inside of the pressed copper form is brushed. The process continues in Leipzig, Germany.
The newly pressed copper form is put into a silicon-casting mold. The coal mix is poured between the silicon and the copper form. The lamp is baked at low temperature and afterwards the copper is finished with Zapon lacquer in order to prevent oxidation. The coal lampshade is now treated with a plant-based hard wax oil to prevent the intrusion of water.
– The modern yet timeless design of Schwarzes Gold reflects our philosophy of sustainable design. For timeless design obtains long-term consumer acceptance, which minimizes future market assimilations as well as associated development and resource expenditures.
Even Schwarzes Gold’s final form promotes sustainable practices in industry and society. Its black coal lampshade and the vaulted bellshaped lamp complement one another; together they symbolize the challenges of our time: the creation of a sustainable society.