The concept of an alphabet is so intrinsic as to go without notice, but an alphabet intends to clarify a system of meaning while allowing for complexity and development. Applied to design, an alphabet would standardize function and simultaneously welcome permutation. When JDS Architects and ewo joined forces, their intention was to create an outdoor lighting system that would adjust to the needs of its intended environment.
The Alphabet Lamppost. Designed by JDS for ewo.
By focusing on the basic parts of an effective lighting form, JDS Architects and ewoLAB created a flexible outdoor lamp. Julien De Smedt of the interdisciplinary architecture and design firm JDS ARCHITECTS explains the evolution of The Alphabet: “Different places and spaces should be lit differently. How to adapt lighting to places without always changing design? This lamppost family functions as an alphabet of light, where each configuration is a new letter to light up a specific context. The design is almost invisible, just a simple round steel profile perforated randomly to let some light come out.” By adding basic parts (the characters or letters of the alphabet), users create a lamppost of divergent combinations. These combinations constitute a different language for each location, so the message of The Alphabet remains tied to its specific context.
The language of The Alphabet and all its permutations will be revealed (like tablets or oracles) to the public at Frankfurt’s Light+Building from April 11 through the 16th. ewo, which develops and manufactures lighting systems for public spaces, brought The Alphabet into being with the help of the diverse minds at JDS Architects, whose “complementing teams ensure that the projects will never suffer from being too conventional nor too naive.” The holes that filter the light that emanates from The Alphabet are a type of braille in my mind—a modern shorthand or hieroglyphics that give birth to a language of light.