Between natural and man-made: Babylon Light by Ryan Taylor

Imagine that you could fuse light with plants in one object, an interesting combination that could translate a natural solution to a growing need: being close to nature.
The Babylon Light is a light fixture created by the Canadian designer Ryan Taylor with a purpose: to take advantage of the light from the lamp and propagate it to the plants to grow.

The beginning – Why plants?

Ryan Taylor: I have always loved plants, but not the accompanying clutter of flower pots. By raising them up off the ground they reduce clutter and become a focal point in a room. The first plantable light fixture I designed is named the Babylon Light. I have always loved the idea of Babylon, a city with cascading greenery in what is now a very arid climate.

The main challenges

Ryan Taylor: Having water near electrical components is a factor, but that is more of an issue with people’s perception of electrical safety than being an actual design issue. For some reason, a lot of people think a light fixture that you can hang in your house and put water in is dangerous. However, this is never a concern if the same person was shopping for an outdoor light fixture. It’s quite funny really. The main design concerns were primarily creating a large enough volume that would allow plants to survive but not appear too big and heavy visually. By playing with the dimensions and the overall form I was able to balance a minimal aesthetic with a functional volume. The other main concern is weight and balance.

The fixtures are light, but once soil and water are added they can get fairly heavy and this was a consideration because if they are installed to a junction box as intended there are weight specifications to be aware of. I don’t really like pendants that have multi-cable hanging hardware, so I’ve used a single wire to reduce the amount of visual clutter – this creates a bit more work to balance the fixture once planted, but I’ve tried to reduce this issue by using long necks (ie. Well Planter Light) which acts as a fulcrum and reduces any major imbalance. To fine-tune them once installed you can simply add a couple of pebbles or other decoration to balance it out as needed, which adds to the overall aesthetic of the planting as well.

A natural solution to a well-being need.

Ryan Taylor: The majority of society lives in harsh unnatural urban environments, so having house plants is the easiest way to counteract the effects this can have. People, for the most part, need to live in cities, but would ideally prefer to be in nature – I guess this probably mimics some of the ideas of what the Hanging Gardens of Babylon was. Even adding just one little house plant transforms the energy of any home while there can be additional health benefits through air quality or having fresh herbs for cooking.

As for future product trends – I’m not really sure, I generally design things which I want or need, is functional and has enduring qualities, timeless aesthetics and made to be heirloom quality so as to last generations. I personally try to avoid buying gadgets or trendy products which I usually find have a short life-span and end up in the trash quickly.

Interview with Ryan Taylor from object/interface.

Photography:© Ryan Taylor.

Trends: Balanced Self.