This somewhat ugly chandelier adorns the ceiling of our lounge room. Before you ask, we rent, we didn’t choose it that way.

Our Chandelier

I only just realised: there’s a very long and perverse story in this banal light fitting:

It’s meant to imitate a crystal chandelier, but it’s mostly glass.

Parts of it (the arms) are meant to imitate glass, but are in fact plastic.

It’s meant to imitate an array of candles, but it is electric.

Because it emulates candles, it has non-functional cups around the simulated-candle light globe sockets to catch non-existent candle wax.

It’s decorated with shapings which imitate flowers, grapes or tears, and bunchings of fabric, all in glass or plastic.

Its globe sockets are deliberately tiny, both hearkening to an older standard and attempting to enforce a reduced total wattage.

The globe sockets deliver 50Hz 240volt AC power to what is expected to be five incandescent filament bulbs in the range of 15 to 40watts each, but each globe now contains its own tiny regulated transformer which provides power suited to a cold fluorescent coil, bunched and spiraled to imitate the shape of an incandescent globe.

The globes are in turn a specialized variety of fluorescent imitation-incandescent globe, tailored to fit this obscure size and shape of socket. They consume less wattage than was ever intended for the light fitting, but produce more light…

Every part of this light is trying to imitate at least one other thing, if not several things, recursively, some of them thousands of years old. I wonder what else I’ve missed…?

One thought on “Imitation

  1. Nothing is real.

    There’s an annoying amount of stuff like that around, if you care to look. Most of it’s so ingrained that it’s not immediately obvious.

    Consider the UIs for many computer programs. eg: a music player with an onscreen volume-knob that rotates. It’s painfully inefficient to twist you hand and move the mouse to track in a circle when you could use a linear sliding gesture.

    I think marketers have lulled designers into making condescendingly small incremental steps.
    Sometimes, you need to completely throw-out old tech, stop emulating the old, and make a revolutionary move to make effective use of new tech.
    Touch-screens are a nice example…it’ll be fascinating to see where else they’re applied and how.

    Interesting that you’ve raised the mater of lighting, since I’ve been looking into high-output LEDs recently (mostly for photography…would be nice to have something flicker-free that has the same output as a 1000W globe, won’t burn-off your hand, and runs off a battery-pack).
    The up-front cost of such LEDs ain’t so attractive at present, mostly because of economy of scale and it not being a mainstream consumer item. Yet, they’re _twice_ as efficient that compact fluorescent globes in terms of wattage per light output (and CF have some dreadful environmental downsides for production and disposal). The latest crop of LEDs are rated to last roughly 11 years continuously, which more than offsets the cost.

    I’m waiting for a mobile phone to be released with a retro dial — or buttons arranged in a circle. (Before you laugh, for all the inefficiencies of the QWERTY keyboard cobbled from the 100+ year old typewriter, it s**ts all over using a numeric keypad for text entry).

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