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This month, On: Design introduces three new ambient home lighting options, each with its own innovative design twist.

Lit up inside

As a former in-house designer, James Kaoru Bury has plenty of collaborations with heavyweight high-tech lifestyle brands under his belt, including Samsung, Sharp and Toto. Now a freelance designer, he’s chosen a handcrafted analog item to be his first independently released product.

The Chouchin Candle, a white pillar candle in the shape of its Japanese paper lantern namesake, was inspired by Bury’s research into relaxation when designing bathtubs for Toto. As the candle burns, only the inside melts away, leaving an outer shell and its chōchin design completely intact.

The secret behind this is the use of two kinds of wax with different melting points, blended and hand-crafted by Pegasus Candle based in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture. The longer the candle is lit, the lower the flame descends and the more lantern-like it becomes. After 25 hours of burning, the light radiates from the center of the pillar, diffused into a soft glow by the outer shell.

Cleverly, the Chouchin Candle is also designed to be reused. Once the wick has burned down, which takes about 60 hours of use, a cylindrical refill candle can be slotted into the hole left behind.

Bury’s past works have already won him various accolades, including Good Design Awards, a Red Dot Design Award and an IF Design Award. This year, the Chouchin Candle won a Design For Asia Bronze Award. Currently at a special price of ¥6,320, with refills at ¥2,480, it’s also only available from Bury’s own web store.

The new old school

Inspired by the role of fire in the evolution of civilization — not just as a source of light, warmth and comfort, but as an element that can elicit emotions — Ambientec’s Hymn is an unusual contemporary interpretation of lambent candlelight.

Designed by Hiroto Yoshizoe, Hymn pays homage to the old-school chamberstick, its sleek steel candle-like centerpiece curving outward at the base into a handle, and protected by a glass dome. But the real beauty lies in the flame. The clear acrylic shape, which balances atop the stem, refracts LED lighting from below to emit a droplet of glowing orange that seems to float at its tip. Supported by a steel wire loop weighted by a gently swinging cylinder pendulum below, the flame also sways to produce a flickering effect. When Hymn is on, concealed electromagnets are used to perpetually move the pendulum, and when switched off, the flame blinks like a candle being blown out.

Hymn, an LED chamberstick-like lantern designed by Hiroto Yoshizoe, flickers when its acrylic flame-shaped piece is moved by the pendulum suspended below it. | HYMN-1_PHOTO BY RIE AMANO
Hymn, an LED chamberstick-like lantern designed by Hiroto Yoshizoe, flickers when its acrylic flame-shaped piece is moved by the pendulum suspended below it. | RIE AMANO

Weatherproof, cordless and rechargeable, with a full charge lasting up to 24 hours on its low light setting, Hymn was first showcased as a prototype at Salonesatellite in 2019. Finally released as a product this year — priced at ¥27,500 for a black version and ¥29,700 for a gold one — it can now be viewed until Dec. 25 at a popup in the Cibone homeware store in Tokyo’s Omotesando district.

Sweet smell of success

The Lei tea-light powered aroma diffuser has garnered much attention since its launch this year, including winning an IF Design Award, a Red Dot Design Award, a Design For Asia Gold Award and a Japan Interior Designers’ Association Product Award.

Unlike ordinary aroma-oil burners, the Lei — designed for Antbee electronics by Yu Ito and Yoshimi Kemmotsu of SOL Style Architecture — lightly wafts fragrance into the air with a fan solely powered by the heat emanating from a candle.

An environmentally conscious design made from recyclable aluminum, iron and glass, it generates electricity from heat that travels from a panel above a burning tea light to a two-blade fan. Since the candle doesn’t heat the oil directly, it’s also less likely to burn.

Designed to be environmentally conscious, the Lei aroma diffuser is made from recyclable materials and converts heat from a tea light into electricity to power its fan.
Designed to be environmentally conscious, the Lei aroma diffuser is made from recyclable materials and converts heat from a tea light into electricity to power its fan.

Simply add a few drops of scented oil to a small tray that slots into the back of the fan, light the candle, place the glass cover over it to protect it and wait a few minutes for it to warm up. Then give the blades a gentle push to set the fan in motion. The base for the tea light can also be flipped over to bring the flame closer to the panel to increase the speed of the fan.

Priced at ¥24,900, the Lei is available at its dedicated website.

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