Defining design terms: What is biomimicry and what does it mean for you?

Defining design terms: What is biomimicry and what does it mean for you?

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Biomimicry. The concept has been sort of a hot topic for designers in recent years, but rarely is it discussed or even heard of by consumers. So let’s change that. Biomimicry might be a discipline used in design but it affects consumers too and can dramatically change our future.

Defining design terms: What is biomimicry and what does it mean for you?

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First of all, what is biomimicry? In basic terms, it is a discipline that focuses on bringing nature inside and using nature as a way of solving human design challenges. You may have noticed the recent trend of nature-inspired products. For example, a chandelier made out of wood or a jute rug created from plant fibers. Well you see, biomimicry relies on the assumption that in the past, nature has already found solutions to many of the problems we as humans are trying to solve. All you have to do is study nature to find the answers.

Defining design terms: What is biomimicry and what does it mean for you?

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Biomimicry is not simply looking at nature and being inspired for a new fabric print, light fixture or table design. It’s much, much more than that. In biomimicry, nature is used not only as inspiration for a product’s aesthetic form, but for its construction, development and process as well.

This might all sound very scientific and a bit confusing, but it’s simpler than you think. In fact, you have actually used products designed following biomimicry without even knowing it. Velcro, for example, is a product of biomimicry. George de Mestral, the inventor of Velcro, came up with the idea after observing the burrs stuck on his dog’s fur and his own clothing. By studying and copying nature, Mestral was able to develop a successful product that is still used today.

Defining design terms: What is biomimicry and what does it mean for you?

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Now that you better understand what biomimicry is and how it’s used in design, why should you care? Well, because finding answers by looking to nature can help designers develop more intelligent and sustainable products, meaning consumers too can benefit from biomimicry. You might even be benefiting from biomimicry right now in your own home! By observing and mimicking the internal structure of a firefly’s lit-up abdomen, researchers have been able to create more efficient LED light bulbs, therefore lowering the cost for consumers who use them.

A sustainable environment is better for everyone, so keep your eyes out for products that were inspired by nature and help biomimicry take on today’s environmental challenges.

By Wendy Weinert

“Upcycled” Lighting Designs by Varaluz

Recycled metals.  Check.  Recycled bottle glass.  Check.  Reclaimed shells and fibers.  You betcha!  At Varaluz, we get caught green handed all the time, as trash is our treasure, working with responsible materials is our way, and creating personality-forward lighting that has inviting textures you can actually see and feel is our passion.

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In a world overrun by wastefulness, where people churn out vast mountains of non-biodegradable waste by the hour, our team at Varaluz is putting into practice the very cool philosophy of upcycling.  That is, we take waste materials and turn them into products of great practical and decorative value that we know you’ll enjoy.  Did you know that we offer our customers a variety of imagination-grabbing lighting choices that are hand-forged and welded from 70% or greater recycled content and utilize virtually all recycled glass?  Our compulsion to green our products doesn’t stop there; we use low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) earth-friendly paints, finishes and resins to spare you from breathing in any fumes that could be injurious to your health, or at the least, smell nasty.  Sure, our process for selecting our materials and handcrafting our fixtures may often require hundreds of hours of labor (don’t worry, our craftsmen love every minute) and seem extreme to some, but we’re firm believers that our methods and our commitment to eco-responsibility result in the most beautiful fixtures available.  After all, it only takes one look at the recycled bottle glass of our Fascination collection, the natural and sustainable capiz shade panels of our Affinity collection, or the recycled content of most any of our collections, to see that our passion for conservation only enhances our ability to create outstanding lighting.

Ultimately, our lighting fixtures end up capturing your imagination, make you scratch your head asking “How’d they do that?”, and allow you to enjoy the best possible lighting in your home.  And only when we’ve accomplished all that are we satisfied that we’ve done our job to the fullest.

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A Spotlight on Energy Efficiency in the Bathroom

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Access Lighting Vail Brushed Steel One-Light Medium Wall and Vanity Light

Bathroom lighting can be tricky. We spend a rather significant amount of time in this often-forgotten part of the house, and yet its design doesn’t possess the elegant grandeur or thoughtful comfort of the dining or living rooms. Bathroom lighting needs to be bright enough to catch blemishes, flattering enough that it won’t prevent you from leaving the house, and soft enough to evoke relaxation during bath time. Plus, fixtures have to be approved for damp environments. You may never use the den or grand dining room, but a day doesn’t go by when you don’t use the bathroom (if all goes well). We turn those lights on and off multiple times a day – why not also make them energy efficient?

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It’s thrilling how far energy efficient lighting has come in terms of design aesthetic and light quality. Most energy efficient lighting uses either LED lights or compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) instead of the old familiar incandescent bulb. The difference in energy use of these newer developments from the classic light bulb is remarkable.

Take LEDs. “Light emitting diodes” started out as tiny single bulbs used for electronics, but, due to their efficiency and flexibility, creative designers have been grouping these bulbs together in new and interesting ways, creating warm, radiant – and efficient – lighting fixtures. A beautiful example is Nuvo’s Raindrop. Combining polished nickel and Lucite, the fNuvoLightingRaindropixture has slightly retro styling with very contemporary electronics. Raindrop uses three 4-watt LED modules. Wattage is often mistakenly equated with light output, but, actually, watts refer to the quantity of energy used to illuminate the bulb. Instead of wattage, LEDs are measured in “lumens,” which refers instead to the amount of light emitted. The Raindrop uses about 12 watts, but gives off about 870 lumens. You’d need 60 watts of incandescent light to give off the same brightness. Go with LEDs and you’re using less than a quarter the amount of energy! Not only that, but they last longer – an average LED bulb will be going strong for 50,000 hours – compare that with an incandescent’s quick little life span of 1,200. A fixture like the Raindrop or Access Lighting’s sleek and minimal 31003LEDD will not only save you money on your energy bill, it’ll save you time changing light bulbs.

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PhotoCredit: Pegasus Lighting Blog

Even if you’re satisfied with your current bathroom fixture, it’s easy to snag a little more efficiency simply by switching out the old incandescent for a CFL bulb. Placed somewhere between LEDs and incandescents in terms of efficiency, you can generally get about 8,000 hours of use per compact fluorescent (compared with 50,000 for LEDs and 1,200 for an incandescent). Their old reputation for harsh bright light no longer stands (we’d never recommend that for the bathroom!). CFLs measure brightness in Kelvins – choose a CFL that offers 2700-300K and you’ll find the same warmth of a traditional incandescent, but use about a quarter of the wattage.

So take some time to give your bathroom a little love – and save some money and the environment by switching to energy efficient lighting options.

5 things you might not know about LED lighting

You’ve surely heard the hubbub about getting rid of old-style incandescent light bulbs and switching to more eco-friendly, energy-efficient bulbs to light your home. The hype has started for good reason – lights like LEDs really are longer-lasting and more efficient, and come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. But many people are still reluctant to make the switch.

Photo Credit: Corbett Lighting

If you’re curious about LED lighting, but not sure about making the transition, here are five key things you need to know.

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1. What are LEDs, anyway? LED stands for “light emitting diode” and it’s those diodes that make the lights different from traditional incandescent and CFL bulbs, which contain filaments inside a glass bulb. The LED “bulb” contains tiny light sources or lenses that illuminate when an electrical current passes through a semiconductor within the bulb.

2. Do LED bulbs really last longer? Yes, they do! One LED bulb can have a life of 100,000 hours. Compare that to the average life span of a traditional incandescent light – just 750 hours.

3. Are LEDs actually eco-friendly? It’s not just a sales tactic – LEDs use less energy (less demand on the environment), last longer (fewer bulbs to throw away) and contain no toxic materials. They’re even recyclable.

4. LEDs are only for small fixtures, right? Nope! LED light fixtures have come a long way in recent years, and homeowners with a strong sense of taste can rejoice – virtually any style of fixture is now available in an LED version. So from your living room chandelier to the pendants above your kitchen bar, LEDs can light the way – and do it beautifully.LED_OutdoorPostLantern

5. Can LEDs be used outside? Absolutely! Whether you’re lighting up a pathway to your patio space or welcoming your guests to your front door, outdoor LED light fixtures will do the task – and save you the headaches of having to replace bulbs on a regular basis.

Solar lights can light up your night

Beach-House-LightingPut sunlight to work for you by installing outdoor solar lights. Not only will they save you money – since sun power is free – but they’re affordable, simple to install and can be relocated easily. You can light pathways, accent trees or statuaries, or use them as decorative accents.

To charge your lights, just place them in a sunny area. The sun’s energy will be absorbed by collection panels, then converted into electrical energy. Today’s light-emitting diodes (LEDs) create light without generating much heat and are reliably bright. With proper maintenance, your lights will last for several years, and work in almost all temperatures and weather, year-round.

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Here are some solar lighting options that will add beauty to your landscape:

Path lights. Use these to illuminate sidewalks, paths or driveway perimeters. They’re usually used in multiples to guide the way along a dark walkway or set of stairs. They typically have sensors that turn on the lights as the sun fades; some have on/off switches.

Spotlights and task lights. These add ambiance to your yard, as the spotlights can be placed in trees to light downward, or beneath trees, shrubs or statuary, to cast a light upward. They’re also useful in marking landscape hazards, such as flower gardens or large rocks, which may not otherwise be seen at night. Most solar spotlights and task lights are designed to be mounted in a number of ways and can be adjusted to shine in any direction.

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Decorative lights. These combine fun and utility. For example, you can use planters along your deck that come in several colors and glow in the dark. Tiki torches can light up your patio during an evening’s entertainment.

Solar lights that use LEDs may have another benefit that makes them well-suited for landscape use: As temperatures drop, LEDs generate an even brighter light.

New Take on Energy Efficient Lighting by Kichler

Kichler Lighting has delivered a fresh new take on fluorescent, energy saving lighting.   From wall to ceiling, for indoors and out, Kichler offers hundreds of budget friendly styles that will change your mind about fluorescent lighting.  These smart, stylish solutions are growing in popularity as energy costs continue to rise and new legislation & regulations are adopted.  Compact fluorescent bulbs on average last 8-10 time longer, produce 90% less heat, use 75% less electricity and produce about four times as many lumens (a light’s brightness) as an incandescent bulb of the same wattage.   With designs ranging from contemporary to traditional, you are sure to find a solution for your space.  Check out all of Kichler’s new items and their full line.

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Also, remember that Kichler ceiling fans are on temporary price cut until the end of the month, saving you an additional 10%.  Ceiling fans are another great way to reduce your energy costs throughout the year.

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Don’t forget to sign up for the Hot Summer Savings Event Giveaways, you could win a $500 Product Giveaway by Kichler.  See our event page for details.

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