New York based designer Michiru Tanaka first looked back to the past before setting out to imagine the future. Referencing traditional Japanese paper and wood shoji screens, alongside the structural patterns of the Kumiko screen – an assemblage of wooden arrangements constructed without nails –Tanaka’s KUMIKO modular architectural lighting system for Kaneka OLED is equally engaging, on or off.
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Neither OLED lighting nor modular wall panels are anything novel. Earlier this year Bang & Olufsen unveiled a geometric-spirited take on a wall-mounted assemblage, but dedicated to sound. Geometric wall panel lighting is already a thing, with OLEDs continually making headway. Mixing and matching is increasingly popular.
Where Kaneka OLED’s lighting system distinguishes itself is in the intricacy of its design – a customizable panel comprised of interchangeable 1mm modular thin OLED panels that affix magnetically. The endless intricate arrangements work in conjunction to produce a warm and intimate illumination not unlike light once visible behind traditional shoji screens, where shadows play a role as important as the light cast.
A complete 18-unit KUMIKO wall system produces a total of 55W (630 lumens) of warm 3000K light. Think mood, rather than task – secondary vs. primary. Ideal locations would stretch across a long hallway, following the ascension of a stairway, glowing warmly over a couch, or perhaps even in place of decorative tiling. Kaneka OLED cites their lighting panels eliminate harsh shadows, all without emitting UV and reducing IR.
When turned off the KUMIKO reveals a secondary personality, one literally reflective of its owner: it operates as a mirror.
We expect to see OLED technology continually evolve and revolutionize both residential and hospitality spaces, where setting a mood is integral. With it’s extremely thin and lightweight construction, skin-complementing light quality, and 50,000 hours of rated use, designs like KUMIKO make it clear interior lighting is already breaking out of the bulb-shaped mold of yesteryear.