The name of Neil Conley’s Fossil lamp refers not to dinosaur bones but to the Edison filament suspended at its centre, like a leaf preserved in a glowing chunk of amber.

Part of a recent exhibition of new work by design graduates of the UK’s University of Northumbria that appeared at New York’s International Contemporary Furniture Festival (ICFF) this year, the lamp was originally created for Design Event at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, which showcases the best in contemporary design from the North of England.

The Fossil was designed as a living museum piece that celebrates incandescent bulb inventor Thomas Edison and his first reliable filament, which he created around 1880, as an icon of industrial design.

The glass body of the lamp was manufactured from borosilicate glass, a durable type with a high resistance to changes in temperature, which is used widely in laboratory glassware and by the glass kitchen products manufacturer Pyrex.

It was also blown using lab glass techniques, and has an amber finish that is traditionally used to prevent the contents of chemical vases and drug vessels from deteriorating through exposure to light. The capsule-like shape is a reference to the material’s scientific heritage.

Conley designed the light with a touch-sensitive dimmer that pulses gently as the user holds it, creating a connection between person and product to re-establish the warmth and magnetism that sets apart the original, traditional bulbs apart from much slick contemporary light as it effectively ‘breathes’ with you.

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