Maison & Objet Sustainable Standouts in Lighting

January 29, 2024

During Maison & Objet this January, darc’s online content creator Ellie Walton sought-out the purpose driven creators that are crafting products that blend opulence with durability as well as leaving a positive impact on our planet. Read on to discover her findings.

Sustainable designers are the vanguards that are leading the charge of the transformative change the industry needs. These designers aren’t just redefining longevity but also championing progressive production methods and innovative material applications.

During my time at the Paris-based fair, I found products that won’t just live a lifetime but can also live a life, one that is born and then dies through biodegradable properties. The following designers are those I found leveraging their platform and brand to embrace sustainable design, from the use of recycled materials to the treatment of garment workers. In the lighting industry, these visionaries are wielding their power of design to shape consumer habits, fostering an environment where conscious consumerism can truly flourish.

Originalhome’s Bottle Cap Lamps

Originalhome’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its design philosophy, effortlessly infusing a cool and laid-back vibe into any space. The rattan-style lamps stood out offering a touch of shabby-chic bohemian elegance that boasts an aesthetic that withstands time.

These rattan looking lamps are crafted with a unique twist – recycled bottle caps taken from the coastlines and rivers of Indonesia. Speaking to the designer said “Normally people use the bottom of the bottle because they’re easy to use and transparent. The Bottle caps, however, are lot harder to use and recycle, so we found a way to recycle them.  The downside, or perhaps upside, is that the lamps can only be available in green, blue, or brown.”Using the harder pieces of plastics allows the lamps to be stronger and more durable, making them suitable for both indoor and outdoor environments.

The company’s dedication to sustainability extends beyond the product itself. Each item is meticulously handcrafted, and the only machine used in production is for the recycling process of the bottle caps. The company also calculate the CO2 emissions through the entire production and distribution process in which it proportionally gives back through initiatives like planting trees and providing cooking stoves to women in India. Originalhome understands that we live in a world where conscious consumer choices matter and offers products for style and impact.

N-Lobjoy Porcelain Paper shades

Nathanaëlle Lobjoy, artist and craftsman, seamlessly blends poetry into decoration through her exquisite paper lights, crafted and plant-based materials sourced from Europe. Employing a combination of pencil, pen or even brush, Lobjoy intricately creates floral and plant-inspired designs, which are artfully printed onto the lamp shade. The shades themselves are fashioned using a papier-mâché technique, showcasing Lobjoy’s unique modelling and craftmanship that imparts the illusion that the lamps are biscuit porcelain – a traditional European un-glazed, matte porcelain finish.

She tells me that the underlying concept of her designs is to create functionable products that are like hanging art by day then lights by night.

N-Lobjoy Pendants photo from @nathanellelobjoy

In a transformative journey spanning 30 years, Lobjoy transitioned from using chemically harmful and unsustainable materials. Seven years ago, she committed to minimising her use of harmful chemical materials and contribution to landfill. Expressing her stance, Lobjoy says: “I don’t believe it’s necessary and I do not want to contribute adding more dust into the world. For the decoration I chose paper because it takes less energy, and it removes the need to use other chemicals and products like polish. The only manufacturing energy comes from my hands to transform the pieces.”

The environmentally conscious approach also extends to the recyclability and biodegradability of Lobjoy’s paper lamps shades. As they are crafted from paper, the shades can be completely recycled thus creating more recyclable paper, which becomes more accessible and re-useable. Ultimately, this ensures Lobjoy’s materials are abundant for her continued creations with unique patterns.

Let’s Pause “Leather” lamps

Nestled in hall 8 of Maison was the brand Let’s Pause, a company that is rooted in its sustainable philosophy and creating synergy between design and nature. Among its showcased products was the extraordinary lamp shade known as ‘Couro’, which translates from Portuguese to mean “leather”. Contrary to its appearance, the material may look like leather but is in fact derived from the leaf of a palm tree, which the brand will only harvest when the tree has blossomed and shed its leaves to the ground. The leaves are then steamed to attain flexibility and take shape using only sewing – a simple handmade process that doesn’t use any machine-powered energy.

The visual resemblance to leather, coupled with a tactile sensation, creates a trompe l’oeil effect through its stretchy and flexible leather texture.

Also, not only does the shade’s appearance mimic leather but it equally matches its durability. Let’s Pause boasted at the show that the shade has a perpetual lifespan. However, if the customer desires a change or to dispose of the product it can simply be removed and recycled back into nature through decomposing the material. Its versatile nature makes it equally suitable for home decoration or illuminating counter tops and bars in a hospitality setting, embodying a philosophy that seamlessly fuses ecological consciousness with modern chic.

Ay Illuminate Continental Lanterns

On the way out of Hall 8 it was hard not to be stopped by the stunning display of Asian Lantern-inspired shades. Suspended gracefully over a stone bench was the Z Series, a creation by conscientious brand Ay Illuminate, with its captivating zen-like arrangement. The meticulous craftmanship and unique array of material could compel anyone to stop and appreciate the artistry.

The Z Series lanterns are offered in three sizes, each featuring covers crafted from a diverse array of materials sourced from various countries including Afghanistan, Senegal, and the Philippines. Each lamp is unique as a result of its hand-crafted production and the various materials available for the covers such as cotton, cashmere, sisal netting and carboard. The neutral and dark shades emanate from the material itself or from the use of natural ingredients such as tea.

Z Series photo by @ayilluminate

Notably the framework of the lantern is composed entirely of bamboo. Designer of the Z Series, Ay Lin Heiner, says: “We use bamboo because its strong and looks clean but is also completely sustainable. Bamboo is like grass; you can cut off branches and it will quickly grow back as well being completely biodegradable.”

Ay Illuminate maintains a commitment to sustainability by having the lanterns crafted in the same location as the cover’s material is sourced. According to Heiner, the brand works with villages to provide jobs for the locals and focuses on providing opportunities for women and girls to learn craft and new languages such as English, fostering their independence.

The use of natural materials in the pendant lamps makes it an ideal choice for home décor, restaurants, and bars for those aiming to showcase a blend of opulence and authentic spirit.