Won Joon Lee recently unveiled a seriously sweet LED lamp at the Milan Furniture Fair that incorporates crystallized sugar as a source of energy-efficient light. Dubbed the Stardust lamp, the piece was created by placing LEDs in a concentrated sugar bath for 10 days, which caused them to grow a rock candy-like shell. The modular lamp was showcased as part of the part of the Loaded exhibition at Rossana Orlandi's.
Won Joon Lee was born in Seoul, Korea and is currently studying for his BFA in designed objects at the SAIC in Chicago. Stardust is the result of an intense two-semester design project that focused on the history, physicality and currency of the materials iron and sugar. Joon Lee wanted to create an object that explored the use of sugar in design — he states: “As coffee sweetens with sugar, Stardust investigates and peels back the layers of sugar to reveal new meanings to designers, producers and markets.”
The modular light was inspired by the shape of the sugar molecule, and the design’s PCB (printed circuit board) is a metaphor or clue that speaks of the intricate ‘mechanical’ or ‘biological’ story. To create the sugar light source, Joon Lee experimented with sugar by burning, melting, freezing, breaking and growing it. He settled upon submerging LEDs in a bath of concentrated sugar water, which caused light-diffracting sugar crystals to grow around the diodes.
Joon Lee’s Stardust lamp presents a new way of using sugar as an environmentally friendly, sustainable resource at a time when trade is the cause of many problems connected to the design practice. The designer stresses that Stardust is at an early stage in its lifecycle, and if he finds support, he will continue experimenting with colored and fluorescent substances. There are practically as many ways to develop the design as there are ways to take your coffee.