l+b:Fonckel

Fonckel is a small startup company “spun out” from the Technical University/Eindhoven.  Their first product is a small table lamp with an extremely creative control interface:  A capacity touch system on the top of the fixture lets you use natural gestures to control a set of LEDs on the front; the LEDs are positioned and focused in such a way that the beam of light can be guided up and down, left to right, and the width of the beam can be changed.

I put Philip Ross on the spot at Fonckel’s booth at Light + Building to give a quick 30 second overview of Fonckel’s unique touch-control system. Philip is Design Director for Fonckel…thanks Philip for being a good sport!

You can also check out Fonckel’s pro videos.  I like the “date night” video…except that I think the dude likes the light more then the girl.  Might cause some relationship issues…

I especially like Fonckel’s Philosophy page, which hints at the unique thought process their team used to develop such a unique product concept. A few quotes:

“Fonckel aims to bring light closer to people. We do so by bringing people literally in touch with light. Our luminaires allow you to control light as if you can grab it directly with your hand. Our patented gesture interactions make detailed lighting control as easy and pleasant as moulding clay. Light becomes tangible and we invite you to make it your personal expression.”

“In case of Fonckel One, we started exploring new kinds of interactions with light by collaborating with modern dancers.
Why did we do that? Modern dancers know how to use their body expressively to interact with people. So we gave them a light and asked them to provide pleasant, expressive and functional interactions with light for people in a home setting. We carefully looked at what they did, how people responded and translated these choreographies to our luminaire concepts.
If you look closely, you see that the gesture for turning on Fonckel One is a smooth sweeping motion that could feature in any dance performance. Fluent and graceful movement is also present in the fluent curves of the luminaires. Thanks to our design process, qualities of movement are embedded in every aspect of our designs”

My free advice:  I think Fonckel has a solid start with a great concept and a good implementation.  However, the price tag of 699 Euros is simply too high for the consumer market that they are naturally targeting with a desk lamp.  I would suggest, if they want to aim for that premium pricing category and prove that the technology is more than just a cute novelty, they need to quickly move to professional applications:

Who needs a fixed light source with a beam that needs to be routinely adjusted by non technical people?  Retail stores, product displays, galleries, etc.  I would also suggest they target upscale hotel chains:  This would make a unique bedside reading lamp.

I wish Philip and everyone else at Fonckel the best of luck with their endeavor!

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About Brad Koerner

Venture Manager - Luminous Patterns Philips Lighting
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