A CFL Bulb That Is As Practical As It Is Sculptural

Plumen is back with another beautifully shaped lightbulb, only this time the design is less about way it looks, and more about the light it emits.

A few years ago Hulger Design released a light bulb that became an unlikely darling of the design world (it earned a Design of the Year award and is now part of MoMA’s permanent collection, among other accolades). An energy saving CFL bulb, the Plumen 001 is a twisting loop of glass that’s at once sculptural and industrial.


“The first Plumen 001 was deliberately large and wild because it had to shock and cause a stir,” says Hulger CEO Nicolas Roope. “It broke the spell.” The spell, of course, being consumer wariness of the quality of LED or CFL bulbs over incandescent.

For the 002, the Hulger team wanted a mellower light. The physics of the 001 resulted in a higher luminosity, so while beautiful to look at, the original Plumen was too bright for certain settings–like living rooms, or restaurants. Not wanting to leave the quality of Plumen’s light output in the hands of a third-party dimming technology, the designers went back to the drawing board for a new bulb shape that could deliver softer lighting.

The second generation bulb is blown glass and channels the traditional bulb shape more than the first does (a design decision that Philips has also made) to avoid alienating consumers. Hulger chose this design path for two reasons. The first is subtlety: “[The Plumen 001] is still hard to use because it’s so dynamic,” Roope says. “The 001 can easily be too much if it’s not ‘tamed’ with sensitive placement and accessorized creatively.”

The second reason is the lighting itself. The 002–which emits light equal to a 30-watt incandescent bulb with just 25% of the energy–was originally conceived as a single sculpted chamber, versus the divided form seen here. But this larger chamber made it difficult to predict exactly how the light would diffuse in a room. Roope and his team cast a wide net for others “beguiled by the same question” about how to better control the behavior of the light, and they found an artist in Lubbock Texas named Tony Greer. Greer’s métier is blown glass and neon lighting and he consulted the Hulger team on this final iteration. The gap in the center of the bulb creates a U-shape surface that can guide the placement of the CFLs. The bulb glows strongest at the center, and then that light is diffused as it moves toward the outside of the bulb, emitting a light that isn’t as glaring as the original 001.

$30 gets you a Plumen 002. Check out Hulger’s Kickstarter campaign here.


About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.