Simon Frambach’s Soft Light is a glowing balloon-shape light shade made of foamed polyurethane that interacts with its surroundings to serve a range of purposes from an illuminated pillow to lighting up dark areas by being wedged between objects.

Frambach’s initial idea for his Soft Light came from experimenting with different surfaces and how these could alter a lamp’s function. “To me it is fascinating how one little alteration (the softness) can really change the whole concept of a product that surrounds us. Soft Light is intended as an object that leaves its utilisation to the people who use it,” he describes.

With a flexible and soft surface, his thought was that the light could fulfil a variety of purposes in the user’s living environment from simply being laid on a table to being wedged in the cavities between furniture or even used as a pillow or headrest.

“I think it is really interesting to see what people come up with as a first guess. Some see their toddlers who are afraid of the dark cuddling with the lamp, whereas others look at it for the sole purpose of a reading light in bed. I personally appreciate its flexibility – being able to squash it between gaps makes you think of all the situations and furnishings it would fit into, such as shelves, stool legs or any rigid structure in one’s environment,” says Frambach.

Before the design could begin, Frambach first needed to find a suitable material, which proved challenging. He had to fully understand the characteristics of foamed polymers and run experiments before he could choose the right one.

“I searched for a material that was durable enough to be squished multiple times while feeling soft and offering a flawless surface. I ended up with a kind of modified polyurethane foam for the prototype,” he explains.

He then set out designing the shape of the lamp. As he wanted it to be a simple organic shape, he modelled it on the calabash pumpkin that has a handle on the end with a power cable coming out of it.

The shade was crafted from a massive block of polyurethane foam on a simple self-constructed device for rotational milling. An energy-saving light bulb, protected by a cage, illuminates the porous foam from the inside. “I am currently running tests with newly developed LEDs that work in enclosed fixtures, just to get rid of the environmental hazard of energy-saving bulbs,” he says.

Although the lamp is still a prototype, the Soft Light has certainly caught the imagination of those who have seen it. “At an exhibition, I met people who were telling me they were expecting a kind of pottered object, crafted out of brittle ceramic material,” says Frambach. “But only until they touched it – it’s all about that moment of touching.”

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