A multidisciplinary team of three young designers have created an immersive, phosphorescent installation entitled Candela for this year’s London Design Festival.
Housed in the V&A’s darkest space – the Tapestry Gallery – Candela comprises a large rotating wheel that glows with an eerie green light and appears to hover above the ground. It is made up of over 700 LEDs, each with 42 different sections, charged by an enclosed lighting bar that excites the phosphorescent material causing a dazzling afterglow that fades into a lambent glow as it turns.
Product designer Felix de Pass, graphic designer Michael Montgomery and ceramicist Ian McIntyre visited the project sponsor Officine Panerai’s Swiss manufacturing base to learn about the phosphorescent material, which is used to light up watch faces.
Montgomery explained that the same process occurs in the Panerai watch faces, only with average daylight as the light source, you don’t get that intense burst.
“We developed the concept around the material and how it behaves, and had fun experimenting with samples,” said de Pass. “There’s an e-curve, where the pigment is very strong when it’s initially blasted with light, then it drops off to a steady ambient glow.
“We used the material in an expressive kind of mark-making way, where you’re building up layers of light as you recharge it, almost as if you’re building up a tapestry and layers of colour. It really responds to the inherent qualities of the material.”
The Super-LumiNova is made from ceramic ground down to a fine powder with rare earth and metal added to it, which is then applied to the aluminium composite face.
“It allows us to create patterns using LEDs of different intensities to create this 3D effect,” says McIntyre.
“We wanted it to feel like a design object and not a machine, and to fit well within this space, which is one of the most peaceful rooms in the V&A. If we move around the back of it, the only thing that’s driving the wheel is the wheel itself, the motor is not visible and all the components have been made as reductive as possible. We didn’t want the machine aesthetic to take over, we wanted it to feel calm within the space.”