Hovering in the air above us, illuminated as if from the sun or moon, cloud-shaped lamps mimic the world outside while also functioning as practical and sculptural light fixtures. We’ve seen crushable cloud lamps that can be hugged into your desired shape, cumulus chandeliers made of polystyrene balls, and even high-tech pendant lights that create actual indoor clouds. But the coolest thing about Bocci’s glass cloud lamps is the way they’re made.
The Canadian lighting company takes an experimental approach to designing its fixtures, holding workshops to find new ways to use existing equipment or re-calibrate manufacturing techniques that are already in use. In this case, inspiration came after designer Omer Arbel glimpsed a pristine white bag made of 3M Nextel, a high-grade ceramic fabric, in the engine of a friend’s airplane.
Seen in Formula 1 racing cars and on NASA space shuttles and satellites, this material is extremely strong, fire-resistant and impact-resistant. In an interview with Core 77, Arbel says he began to wonder how it could be applied to lighting. Overcoming initial challenges in working with the material – like how to even go about cutting it – his design team began forming it into pillowcase-like structures.
Blowing glass into these heat-resistant forms resulted in the cloudlike shapes we see in the lamps. “That simple concept took months and months to figure out,” says Arbel. “It became very important that [these forms] remained quite loose. If the glass completely filled a taut pillow shape, it would mean that every piece looked the same, so we left a vase excess of the fabric with each pillowcase.”