This Brilliant Light Fixture Is Built From Its Own Packaging Tube

Finally, a way to assuage your Amazon Prime guilt.

Anyone with a rightfully abused Amazon Prime subscription has felt the guilt. You have a pile of boxes on your doorstep, most of which contain at least one more box inside that contains the actual product. So by the time you extract your dental floss and razors, you’ve amassed a stack of Russian dolls to bring to recycling.


The R16, by the Dutch design studio Waarmakers featured on Designboom, is an LED light fixture that is built from its own packaging. The cardboard tube it’s shipped in is the same cardboard tube that will hang from your ceiling, raining light upon your home as if a used-up roll of wrapping paper has been possessed by real Christmas magic.

The idea for the fixture came about when the studio was designing another lamp. Linear LEDs–basically LED strips–would be shipped to the studio in cardboard tubes. “Throwing all this cardboard away, just felt very off. It’s a beautiful material, if used in the right way,” says founding partner Maarten Heijltjes. “So we started to think how we could reuse, or repurpose it.”

The solution was to deploy a laser cutter to create perforations, so the tube could ship whole, then all you’d have to do is punch out the right spots and weave the electronics inside to build your lamp. The idea was for the electronics to be shipped inside the tube, too, so there would be no extra shipments or boxes to manage.

But not everything you need to get the R16 working is included. Crucially, it requires that you find a tiny golf pencil and a five-euro piece to stick through the tube on each side of the lighting element to bookend it in place. “Everything is designed to use as little material as possible. So instead of using more material, or extra components to fix the lamp in place, we made a list of what every possible user would have in their homes that could possible do the trick,” says Heijltjes. “Things that would of course look good in combination with the cardboard, but also always have a similar geometry.” The reason that shapes as odd as a golf pencil and euro coin can hold the lighting element in place is that some of the casing is 3-D printed to lock-and-key with exactly their strange shapes.

Despite how things might look, the project took two years of development. Over that time, the team realized that the tube would actually have to be wider than the LEDs themselves, to allow for ventilation (LEDs, despite running cool to the touch, actually do put out focused and specific heat that needs to be addressed). They also ran some of their own tests in the mail to be sure that shipping the fixture could even work without an extra box protecting it.

“First one we sent, the delivery guy stops in sight of our office. I see him trying to carry far too many packages at once, our R16-prototype sticking out of the pile he is carrying. His van is parked on a slight hill, and his door starts to slide closed. And from our studio I can just see him trying to catch the door by sticking our R16-proto between the rather heavy door and doorpost …” Heijltje says. “It was a longer version, and not really packed right, but this did not survive …The delivery guy always stops by for a chat, now that the initial embarrassment has ebbed away.”


Presumably, the final R16 will fare better. It’s available now for $227. And for anyone outside Europe, the necessary five-euro pieces can be purchased upon request.

[Photos: via Waarmakers]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.