The growth of outdoor living spaces for residences and al fresco seating for restaurants has been a boon to the world of battery-powered, decorative accent lighting.
By David Shiller
A category that harkens back to the days of oil lamps and candles has been reborn thanks to advanced rechargeable batteries, solar power, LEDs, and a range of consumer electronic features.
Portable lanterns may conjure up images of camping or developing nations without electricity, but think again. This category has gone highly decorative, extremely functional, and even high-end. Believe it or not, there are highly decorative portable lanterns selling online for $600 each.
“The portable lantern category has a personal connection for designers Kenneth and Edmund Ng,” shares Bernadette Medina, Marketing Specialist at Koncept. “They both love the outdoors – along with outdoor living spaces – and acknowledge that there is more to good lighting beyond the decorative aspect. Lack of lighting can pose a real problem when one is out at night, therefore the functional aspect (i.e. battery life, brightness, ease of transport) is as important to them as its look. Portability allows lanterns such as Mr. GO! to be brought along to camping trips, brighten up a patio table, or simply used as a reading lamp in any nook of a house.”
The hanging strap opens Mr. GO! up to even more application opportunities. A USB port for charging devices provides an extra level of functionality. “Koncept believe that playfulness is an important element in a lantern, too. This playfulness is hinted at in Mr. GO’s rounded silhouette and range of bright finishes,” she adds.
Pablo Pardo of Pablo Design agrees that the portable lantern category is growing in significance. “The portable light space has blossomed over the last few years due to battery technologies becoming increasingly efficient, more reliable, and safe,” he explains. “We have been working with a number of new hospitality customers that are very interested in portable and wireless solutions – such as lanterns – as well as pushing the boundaries of light integration into portable furniture. We are definitely seeing a major shift, especially in the outdoor arena. We are also interested in solar-powered solutions as this technology continues to mature.”
Expect to See More
When asked if they have plans to increase their portable lantern offering, Medina from Koncept comments, “Yes, given the success and positive feedback from the release of Mr. GO! into the lighting market, Koncept plans on introducing more portable lanterns. It’s too early to speak of any specific design plans, however, achieving a high level of functionality and chargeability will be just as important as the aesthetics.”
Pardo of Pablo Design adds, “We are not only continuing to focus on more portable lanterns, but also wireless lighting in general as portable floor-standing fixtures as well as freestanding tables that project light downward to create zones of light. It’s a super-exciting category that promises to transform and elevate our lighting experiences wherever we choose.”
Advice for Showrooms
Lighting showrooms that aren’t currently carrying decorative portable lanterns should consider adding some to their outdoor product mix. The category has the impulse-buy potential of portable fixtures, in that no electrician is required to power them. With the growing consumer desire for more outdoor living, improved battery & solar technology, and increasing consumer electronic convergence, the demand for portable lanterns will continue to grow.