Energy + Environment, Products + Technology

The Language of the Circular Economy

Do you wish you knew a little bit more about the circular economy and how it applies to sustainable lighting? The Sustainable Furnishings Council has recently published Circular Design Glossary: Furniture & Furnishings, in collaboration with mebl | Transforming Furniture and Soma studiomilano. The glossary defines and explains 43 different terms from circular economy practice, such as: Biodesign, Biomimicry, Cradle to Cradle, Embedded Impacts, Just Transition, Regenerative Design, Technical Nutrients, and many more.

Every defined term comes with an example from the furniture industry, including several that are from lighting (see examples below). The full glossary document can be downloaded here.

BIOMIMICRY: 25Lamp by Kovac Family draws inspiration from mollusk shell structure to create a design that folds and unfolds, allowing for flat packaging. Through BIOMIMICRY – mimicking nature – the design of the 25Lamp greatly reduces the waste and pollution associated with packing and transporting. Flat packaging results in reduced CO2 emissions by both requiring less space in transport and reducing/eliminating the need for packing materials such as plastic and foam. The 25Lamp – handmade in Sweden from local FSC-certified and reclaimed wood – is shipped with a modest amount of 100% recycled packaging.


COMPOSTABLE: The MushLume Lighting Collection by biodesigner Danielle Trofe comprises hanging pendants, tables, and floor lamps. This collection combines hemp with mycelium – the vegetative part of fungi – to “grow lampshades.” Within a few days, mycelium cultivates a thick network of hyphae – long filamentous branches found in fungi – which is then left to solidify within custom lampshade molds. When the mycelium matures, the molds are removed and the lampshades are then dried and heated. This creates a stable, 100% COMPOSTABLE product that can ultimately add nutrients back to the earth.


BIODESIGN: The Bacteria Lamp by designer Jan Klingler uses bacteria samples from people, places, or things to preserve memories. The designer explains that every living creature and place has a unique microbiological “fingerprint.” Applying BIODESIGN, Jan Klingler collects a fingerprint, then lets the bacteria grow for 24 – 48 hours. He then seals the microorganisms within a resin to preserve the unique pattern for eternity. While bacteria is usually associated with disease, this collection shows that it can also carry a story of people or places dear to us.



author avatar
David Shiller
David Shiller is the Publisher of LightNOW, and President of Lighting Solution Development, a North American consulting firm providing business development services to advanced lighting manufacturers. The ALA awarded David the Pillar of the Industry Award. David has co-chaired ALA’s Engineering Committee since 2010. David established MaxLite’s OEM component sales into a multi-million dollar division. He invented GU24 lamps while leading ENERGY STAR lighting programs for the US EPA. David has been published in leading lighting publications, including LD+A, enLIGHTenment Magazine, LEDs Magazine, and more.


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