The current offering of sconces available to consumers and specifiers alike is saturated, to say the least. This particular typology of luminaires is often fraught with extraneous embellishments and modalities that are either over-engineered or that underperform. Essentially, this type of light is intended to illuminate a long passageway or imbue an otherwise bland wall with dimension and soft detail. This typology is notorious for being hard to design and operate correctly. Hiding electrical elements, sourcing sufficient wall anchors, and ensuring that these lamps emit enough light poses more problems than one might initially imagine.
Ever the industry maverick, seasoned British designer Jasper Morrison took it upon himself to reinvent the sconce and finally bypass these road blocks. Developed for Italian brand Flos, debuted at Milan Design Week 2021 in September, and available in the U.S. as of February, Oplight is a tour-de-force of technological innovation, new sustainable strategy, and the established talent’s Super Normal philosophy.
For the designer, the “Super Normal” concept defines a set of anonymously designed and discrete objects that out-perform their boisterous counterparts when used for sustained periods. Distilled forms and mechanisms that have proven to get the job done rely on innate forms and functionalities to transcend passing aesthetic fads. For a good portion of his professional life, Morrison’s goal has been to develop products that can attain this level of sophistication. With its refined form, carefully considered behavior, and modularity, Oplight is indicative of this career-defining commitment.
“As a guiding principle, I try to design things with the elements that make Super Normal things,” he says. “I don’t think you can say an object is Super Normal before it’s been used. The lamp will just find its place on walls, and everyone will find it beneficial to the atmosphere. My aim from the outset is not to visually overpower the design. I’m quite often at the beginning of a project when I’m asked to do something as opposed to when I just have an idea. For Oplight, as I did for Glo-Ball before it, I assembled all the memories I have of light and tried to extract the general principle of what a wall light shape should be.”
Oplight derives it ovalic shape from Glo-Ball. The original geoid luminaire—also developed for Flos—was conceived as a play on the original Bauhaus ball lamp but transformed to implement what the designer sees as a shape that is more conducive to the diffusion of light and new LED technologies. Lamps no longer need to accommodate volumetric light bulbs but instead strips that occupy far less space. The overall idea was to reduce the objects to a minimum. Essentially, Morrison had set out to redefine what the age-old adage form-follows-function actually entails.
Oplight bring the three-dimensional form into a flat powder-coated, die-cast aluminum profile. The LED diffuser is all the armature holds, ensuring a more direct and consequential emittance. Such an innovation converts the standard sconce from being a mere walk-marker into a sustainable lamp. What’s more, Oplight is simple and durable enough to meet new sustainability standards. Given that the core structure is inject-molded to incorporate both the light strips and wall anchor, the latter two elements can easily be removed and replaced. Notches and a clever interlocking system eliminates the need for toxic glues. All in all, this new design is a modest but impactful game-changer.