Best of Category: Furniture
Z-Bar LED Desk Lamp
From the moment Beylerian flicked on the Z-Bar, flexed its neck and elbow joints, and checked the price ($129.95), he was filled with consumerist longing. "It's a classic," he raved. "It's a little bit '80s, a little masculine, a little of Sapper's Tizio but less busy and less expensive." His only quibble? "It looks like the in-house engineering department did it."
That's because it did. Koncept Technologies' chief engineer, Peter Ng, spent a year perfecting the design of the Z-Bar, which is manufactured in Hong Kong. "I always wanted to create a lamp that had just the essentials," Ng said. "At the same time I wanted the lamp to be functional and look good." A featherweight crop of LEDs enabled the designer to fulfill both profiles: Sixty-six bulbs put out more than 100 lumens focused in a 50-degree viewing angle, and the lamp's aluminum supports have been thinned to just 1/2 by 3/4 inches. The piece extends with birdlike grace 47 inches from a weighted base that can tuck under external hard drives or act as a makeshift coaster. Once Ng had prototyped the bendy body, he said, "I handed out samples to co-workers and friends. I went back and spent days and nights figuring out how to make the joints as adjustable as my testers wanted." There are three joints in the neck alone, including a hinge, a rotational joint, and the light bar's plug-in spot. (The company has since extended the LED line with four other variants, including mini Zs with 40 LEDs and I-shaped lamps with 38 LEDs.)
Ng had originally wanted to cluster 80 LEDs atop the Z, but he eventually settled on 66 to keep the light affordable. "It uses the latest technology at a great price," Jeffrey Bernett said. Only Cara McCarty wasn't completely sold. "I wish I loved it," she said. "It's a very pleasing light and wonderfully discreet, but it doesn't grab me. It's purely pragmatic and functional, and the details to me aren't completely resolved. It's hardly even designed." "That's a good thing," George Beylerian countered.
In the end, the jurors were won over by its flexibility, in both a physical and metaphorical sense. "It's elegant and unobtrusive, and you can make so many shapes," Beylerian mused. "It's not confined. You could put it over an object, maybe a little Chinese sculpture." "And I could see someone typing under it at night," Bernett added. "I'd be concerned you might knock your arm on it while typing," McCarty said, but Beylerian had the last word: "So don't get your arm so close."
DESIGN/CLIENT Koncept Technologies (Monterey Park, CA): Peter Ng, product designer
MATERIALS Super-bright white LEDs, metallic-painted aluminum, plastic
SOFTWARE Pro/Engineer, AutoCAD, 3D Studio MAX