July 1, 2012
Patterns of Light
Five years in the making, Ingo Maurer’s wallpaper is a surprising application of LED technology.
Each sheet of 126-by-23.5-inch printed circuit board has 840 integrated LEDs in five patterns. Custom versions are available for large orders.
The LEDs can be dimmed and programmed via a supplied control unit. The paper itself is surprisingly durable.
The paper can create an instant LED installation in almost any room, provided a generous budget—the recommended retail price is about $3,300 per sheet, which includes a series connection unit.
Ingo Maurer has been using LEDs since the late 1990s, but the German lighting designer is hardly an evangelist of the increasingly ubiquitous diodes. “The world has gone mad with LEDs,” Maurer says. “People think it is the only way to do light. I don’t think so. It is one way. I like a lot of diversity in light, because it’s something that is close to you and your moods.”
So when do LEDs make sense? Maurer believes that they’re best suited for small, hidden light sources, technical applications, and, surprisingly, wallpaper. The last is an idea that Maurer has entertained for more than a decade, and that his Munich studio has been working on actively for about five years. He showed a handmade attempt at LED wallpaper at trade fairs a few years ago, but that version was impossible to mass-produce. Now, thanks to a collaboration with the German company Architects Paper, Maurer’s LED-dotted wall covering is finally available as a commercial product.
The development process was trying—“everything was extremely complicated and tiresome,” Maurer says—but the designer couldn’t be happier with the final result, which can fill a room with thousands of the tiny red, blue, and white lights placed along the lines of an enormous, flexible circuit board that’s printed onto the paper. “For many years, I’ve been a big fan of the aesthetic of circuit boards,” he says. “And on the wallpaper, I used that aesthetic. First of all, because we needed it. And second of all, because it looks magnificent. It really looks magnificent.”