Well, hallelujah! I've finally chosen my three favorite definitions for polyethylene: 1. A semi-crystalline (typically around 50%), whitish, semi-opaque commodity thermoplastic that is soft, flexible and tough - even at low temperatures - with outstanding electrical properties but poor temperature resistance. 2. A flexible higher density foam material ideally suited for items with higher concentrations of weight. It is also extremely reusable and washable. 3. A thermoplastic material composed of polymers of ethylene. It is normally a translucent, tough, waxy solid which is unaffected by water and by a large range of chemicals. A quick distillation of all this info. leads to the revelation that PE is durable, pliable, re-usable, translucent, and-here's the kicker-it has "excellent electrical properties," which, near as I can tell, means it's a long-lived insulator. [via Inhabitat]
Penta Lamp. Designed by Luca Casarotto of Cosca Design.
Well, then. If I were, say, an up and coming designer participating in a workshop by Italian lighting luminaries (sorry, it was too easy to pass up) Foscarini, I might employ this versatile polymer to design a rather protean fixture that changes shape and thus distributes light in uncanny and interchangable ways. And that's exactly what Luca Casarotto has done with his unprecedented Penta Lamp. Much like Origami (see this week's Cootie Catcher) or a Japanese fan, Casarotto's Penta changes on a whim. In "open" mode, it resembles a 15-bladed ceiling fan-the light diffused into intricate patterns, the effect of the whole like some illuminated puzzle or maze. When "closed," it resembles a geometricized mollusk-an oblong clam or oyster, the milky jewel inside inscrutably illumined. The metamorphosis changes the lighting effect, which makes Penta a versatile piece. When open, the light diffuses through a room; when closed, it creates a spotlight effect. Thus you can use Penta to capture (or alter) a mood, to highlight a signature piece or provide a neutral mise en sc©ne. The lamp also has a third "setting," which meets one's lighting needs halfway and looks to me a bit like an ireful puffer fish. But Penta isn't dangerous in the least. To the contrary, it takes the sting from the oft-nettlesome issue of lighting.