14 examples of cutting-edge lighting design

From holes in rooftops to flickering torches to glowing light bulbs — the world of household lighting has come a long way. Nowadays artists and designers alike are stretching the boundaries of form and function when it comes to how we light our homes.

With winter around the corner and days getting darker earlier, here are 14 ways to keep your house lit with style. Click Continue to take a tour of designs that are practical, radical and completely bonkers — sometimes all at once.


LF-1-X-Ray-Light.jpg Mind behind the design: Wonsuk Cho Why it rocks: What do you get when you mix X-ray photography and light bulbs? Well, awesome imagery, but also a sweet lamp. The bulb inside will light up the X-rayed image, showing you the inside of incandescent and florescent bulbs. The only thing that would make it even cooler? If it was a commercial product we could buy. Where you can see it: Wonsuk Cho's website.
LF-2-exploded-globe-of-light.jpg Mind behind the design: Dominic Harris Why it rocks: Boom! This ball of light looks like it's mid-explosion, and it's interactive to boot. A kiosk nearby held a stack of colored punch cards that could be scanned, changing the hue of the globe. Dseigner Dominic Harris created it as an eye-catching art installation for the debut of Britain's Restaurant and Bar Awards. Where you can see it: Hoxton Square, London
LF-3-hand-blown-light-bulbs.jpg Mind behind the design: Dylan Kehde Roelofs Why it rocks: Some people enjoy the venerable practice of glass blowing as a hobby, though sculptor Dylan Kehde Roelofs advances it to an art form. Both the glass and filament are shaped into graceful shapes, and the filaments can even be removed so burned out strands can be replaced, and the bulb resealed. Where you can see it: http://www.incandescentsculpture.com/">Incandescent Sculpture
LF-4-Light-Socks.jpg Minds behind the design: Diller Scofidio + Renfro Why it rocks: You probably wouldn't toss socks and crystals together in the same thought, but here's the result. The "Light Sock" installation features meshed bags stuffed collectively with thousands of Swarovski crystals, with tiny lights buried inside the jumble. The end result is a bunch of humble chandeliers that are actually pretty expensive. Where you can see it: Crystal Palace in Miami
LF-5-Barry-table-lamp.jpg Minds behind the design: Flux Why it rocks: If lights could reproduce, would their eggs look like Barry? The Barry table lamp is a light so sweet plenty of folks thought it was just a concept. It was rumored to sell for $1,000 when it hit the streets, and its distinct look is just as alluring two years later. Where you can see it: Flux (Time to brush up on your Swedish!)
LF-6-Aer-Lights.jpg Mind behind the design: Aton Design Why it rocks: Aer lights are a textural experiment. There's nothing special about the light source, but the interesting lamp casings will spread all kinds of patterns across your walls. The rippling, graceful arrangement are reminiscient of everything from natural shapes — such as water and leaves — to stained glass. Where you can see it: Aton Design
Mind behind the design: Franco Zavarise Why it rocks: You call that thing you got a lamp? No, this is a lamp. The Ociu (roughly meaning "eye" in Venetian) is an impressive 72 inches in diameter, 31 inches in height, and looks like it could easily crush someone. It's designed to use 150-200 Watt bulbs, depending on what kind you use. Where you can see it: Franco Zavarise's website
LF-8-Sit-Lamp.jpg Mind behind the design: Fiona Thomson Why it rocks: Ah, there's nothing like replacing something's head with a light bulb. This time around it's a dog, and the frilly lamp head even looks like a bonnet. You won't be able to play fetch with your lamp, but you could still cuddle up while reading a book. Where you can see it: Fiona Thomson's website
LF-9-Tree-shaped-Kanpazar-Lights.jpg Mind behind the design: Jon Santacoloma Why it rocks: Trees junk up an area with leaves and attract bugs and other critters — so who needs them? Okay, we actually do like trees quite a bit around here, but these tree-shaped lights are pretty groovy, too. They can really jazz up the front walk, or add some class to a backyard hangout. (That is, if you have enough to buy a collection of them at $900 a pop.) Where you can see it: Y-Lighting
LF-10-Giant-Control-Lights.jpg Minds behind the design: Madreinspain Daniela + J.C. Why it rocks: You don't have to be a film buff to want a couple of these oversized, remote-control-style lights sitting around. Heck, it'd be even cooler if you could actually control your DVD player with them. Sadly, it looks as if these boxes aren't available for purchase just yet. Where you can see it: www.madreinspain.com/
LF-11-OOO-Lamp.jpg Minds behind the design: Sergio Mannino and Jan Habraken Why it rocks: Lamp OOO reminds us a lot of another design, but with an odd twist — it's horribly wasteful. It's not ashamed of its three incandescent bulbs, or by the fact that it's way more than you need to simply read a book. What's the point? It's designers wanted people to think differently rather than just jump on the green bandwagon. That's not to say green is bad — your conclusions are your own. Where you can see it: Jan Habraken's website
LF-12-LED-Furniture.jpg Mind behind the design: Mario Bellini Why it rocks: Stardust furniture has a subtle glow, and is pulled off really well. It's also lightweight thanks to the material it's made from and the internal LEDs, and you could probably pick up a piece with one hand. The furniture even floats. It's a set you can use indoors and out. Where you can see it: Meritalia
LF-13-Diesel-Denim-Gallery.jpg Mind behind the design: Ayako Murata Why it rocks: The Suspended Figure Gallery is composed of rows and rows of hanging lights, forming arches and suggesting arches supported by columbs. The dim quality of the lights gives the whole thing a vintage feel, which lends itself even more to the idea that these lights recall a form of antiquated architecture. Where you can see it: The Diesel Denim Gallery in Aoyama, Tokyo
LF-14-Comcast-10-million-pixel-display.jpg Mind behind the design: Niles Creative Group Why it rocks: Ten. Million. Pixels. Informally called the Comcast Experience, the wall is preprogrammed to cycle through a variety of visual tricks, from morphing into natural vistas to simulating 3-D models dancing through the air. Where you can see it: Comcast Center in Philadelphia