The articulated desk lamp hasn't changed much over the last 100 years. The Fade Task Light, though, might be one of the best designs in table lighting since the Banker Lamp. It is sleek, it has almost no moving parts, it articulates over 120 degrees through bending alone, and it can simulate almost any natural lighting condition, from overcast noon to nuclear sunset, thanks to cutting-edge LED technology.
The Fade Task Light was designed by Fade Studio, a new lighting specific company headed by former fuseproject designers Bret Recor and Seth Murray, who broke off of fuseproject a couple years back to form Box Clever, designers of the Kube speaker and Runcible, a compass-shaped smartphone.
According to Recor, the idea for a desk lamp came to them when they changed studios, and lost the magnificent, hue-streaked sunrise and sunset vistas of their old industrial estate location. It got Box Clever thinking about how they could bring such lighting—or, indeed, any other kind of natural lighting—with them.
But how to bring it to market? Box Clever didn't want to launch a Kickstarter. "We have a lot of respect for Kickstarter, but the truth is, a lot of Kickstarters don't deliver," Recor says. "They make big promises, they rack up a lot of pledges, and then the reality of bringing a product at scale comes crashing in, leading to the design being scaled back in all sorts of ways."
So they created Fade Studio with the intent of selling the Fade Task Light directly to the public, keeping quality high by manufacturing in small batches, as needed. To do so, they teamed up with Scott Soong, a sort of Gandalfian wizard of the Taiwanese R&D and manufacturing chains. Together, they came up with a sleek, modern design that would be suitable for small batch manufacturing, while still perfectly encapsulating Dieter Ram's 10 principles of good design.
Where as most desk lamps are made up of numerous moving parts, the Fade Task Light is made up of a single piece of steel, which can bend over 120 degrees. Magnets inside the steel skeleton help the Fade hold its shape. On the base of the lamp is a floating dial which can be used to adjust the Fade's five LEDs between multiple light levels (from 30 to 280 lumens) and a temperature range of 2700 to 5600 K in color. Meanwhile, a USB port in the base allows you to also use the Fade as a smartphone or device charger.
Leaving aside such lofty concepts as elegance, designing with as few moving parts as possible is beneficial for a number of reasons. For one, less parts means less parts that can break; it also cuts down on the things that can go wrong in the manufacturing process, which is important for a company that wants to remain nimble by making production runs as small as possible. That, in turn, helps keep the price relatively low: the Fade Task light's MSRP is $250, although it is being introduced at a lower price of $200.
If you've only ever bought a lamp at Ikea, that price probably seems expensive. If you've ever tried to buy a designer lamp from anywhere else, though, it's practically a steal—especially for a design that looks this streamlined, effortless, and trim. You can order one now from Fade Studio.