How does the Trapeze Lamp actually work?

trapeze Lamp
CC BY 2.0 Margaret Badore

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) don't use a lot of electricity, so the wires can be really small gauge. This lets designers do some amazing things. Peter Stathis has done something with the Trapeze Lamp that I would have thought was just about impossible: he has designed a ball joint that keeps the electrical connection live even as you turn and twist it 360 degrees as many times as you want. No little wires getting all twisted up; somehow he manages to keep the connections separate.

Light & Contrast/Promo image

The designer mentioned that he had just got it patented, so I had a look. The abstract is pretty hard to understand:

An electrically conductive ball joint and lighting fixtures using the joint are disclosed. The joint has a ball with a first portion connected to a first electrical signal and a second portion connected to a second electrical signal. The first and second portions are electrically isolated from one another by a nonconductive bushing. A socket receives the ball and has a first set of electrical contacts adapted to make contact with the first portion of the ball and a second set of electrical contacts adapted to make contact with the second portion of the ball. The two portions of the ball are unequal, with one portion being larger than the other. The lighting fixtures generally comprise a base and two or more arms connected to the base. The arms are connected to one another electrically and structurally with the electrically conductive ball joints, and may be counterweighted.

Patent US 20120294004 A1/Public Domain

The drawing doesn't make it a whole lot clearer. But the result is remarkable, a beautifully balanced lamp where all the joints move completely freely. I could twirl it all day. It handsome too, and comes in a range of models and sizes. The light itself is a "state of the art LED offering sophisticated optical diffusion through an ultra-thin flat panel." More at Light and Contrast. And watch this:

Trapeze Lamp in operation from Lloyd Alter on Vimeo.

Tags: ICFF/ New York Design Week | Lighting

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