Look up in the sky: is that light a particle? A wave? A drinking implement? In the hands of super talented Los Angeles designer/architects Dan Gottlieb and Penny Herscovitch of Padlab, light is several thousand drinking straws, packed into a honeycomb to make a beautiful pendant.

The Flexicomb lamp uses what is ordinarily the very definition of disposable to make a wonderful, lasting product (and you know how we are suckers for that–pardon the pun). The interaction of the material with light is gorgeous, creating a sort of living organism that changes mysteriously to the touch. Only heat and pressure fuse the straws together into the close-packed honeycomb – no resins or glue. This naturally occurring, ultra-efficient structure (a sort of Bucky Dome in 3D) provides enough stability to make only lights, but even small pieces of furniture.

Equally wondrous is PadLab’s Bubbleglass. No, that’s not the latest LA designer drug, it’s a tripped out way of trapping air in between sheets of glass to make enchanting patterns. The two of them researched traditional Swedish glass blowing techniques and then modified what they learned with digital technology. This new method relies on incising vector images into the glass. The resulting bubble patterns thus become akin to data streams coursing through the material.

In addition, Padlab works with designers and architects to translate patterns, drawings, and text into their bubble vernacular. You could think of it as ASCII art for your window or Braille in a block of ice. But don’t let your imagination stop there. The material could easily find a use in any number of architectural elements, from room dividers to fountains, fine art, fixtures, and even dinnerware. The sheets can also be heated over a mold for 3-dimensional objects.

Flexicomb lamps run between $350 and $850.

Flexicomb and Bubbleglass can both be purchased as sheets. Material samples are also available. Email the designers at [email protected] or call 323-383-6777 for more details.

+ PadLab