Flashlight by Joseph Guerra


Flashlight by Joseph Guerra

Rhode Island School of Design student Joseph Guerra has designed a flashlight made from CNC-cut cork.

Flashlight by Joseph Guerra

The simple cuboid form is cut away to create space for the handle, which also encircles the on-off switch.

Flashlight by Joseph Guerra

The torch splits into two halves to reveal the electronics, which fit neatly into CNC-milled cavities.

Flashlight by Joseph Guerra

The use of standard electronic components and computer controlled cutting processes make the torch straightforward to manufacture.

Flashlight by Joseph Guerra

We recently rounded up all of our stories about things made from cork, including a set of pins that transform corks from wine bottles into animal characters and a light fitting that users can pin their own paper shade onto. See all of the stories here.

  • Design should solve problems, since there are more durable torches out there on the market, that are brighter, tougher, and longer lasting. Apart from looking nice what design problem is this torch solving?

    • Nic, student design sometimes solves different problems or fulfills different goals. Some of these may include material or production investigation. It may be the result of the designer developing a personal design process that will serve them for their whole professional life.

      Design always solves problems…even if those problems are malformed. In this case, though, I think you need to expand your definition of "problem" especially in the case of academic work.

      • candoall

        That sir, is the problem of learning from 'academics'.

    • Tiago Cartageno

      Nic, I think this torch is solving the problem of pollution and the problem of using harmful materials. Cork is very resistant and sustainable. Nowadays you can have floors and furniture made from cork. Even Nasa is using cork in their space shuttles…

  • james

    wow couldn't think of a more stupid material for flash light!!!!!

    • Tiago Cartageno

      Why? Cork is well know for being very resistant, also it is eco-friendly. In what material would you like to see it?

  • gog

    Nic, you have right. this torch is like vase which you can show to your friends. cork is not rigid material and it is bad solution for that kind of product.

    • Tiago Cartageno

      Cork is not rigid, true. But it is extremely resistant and elastic. If you drop the torch to the floor it doesn’t break. With other materials I can’t say the same. The bonus: it comes from a tree. Extra bonus: the planet thanks you.

  • 황정부

    I agree with your opinion.
    Nic's opinion has apprently sharp as well,but I guess we should forcus on his ingenious idea and experimental spirit about design as well as material.
    There are inumerable products which are better functional and durable in market.
    However making people to look again, and creating a conflict between products are one of design's invisible power.
    In terms of those above, I believe that his design is worth working.

  • sven

    cork is quite heat insulating. the bulbs will probably not last long…

  • and absorbent of water which may not mix well with electrics!

    • Tiago Cartageno

      That’s not true. Cork doesn’t absorb liquids, it’s just the opposite. Cork has a sealant effect. Do you think the wine industry would use cork stoppers if it doesn’t seal the bottle?

  • martini-girl

    I love the idea of using cork to create products as it is a fabulous material from an environmental standpoint (renewable, low vc, recylable).

    However, I's rather see cork put to use in high waste consummable products instead of in a product that can make use of other sustainable materials more sensibly.

  • Ok, weird choice of materials aside –what prevents the water from entering the inside of the torch from the thin line between the 2 partitions?

    I don't think you could have a very tight union between the two halves.

  • bruce

    Good on the student for getting work published here. But no matter how hard I try to convince myself of a reason this product should exist, I can only come to the conclusion that it is absurd. Even for a student, who may be experimenting with materials and processes, the idea of a torch made of CNC cut cork should still be blatantly absurd. The aesthetics of the product are good. It looks good, it's contemporary in material and colour. However, the cynic in me suggests every decision was made based on the "cool" factor alone. I can only think cork was chosen because it is currently a bit hip. So you take an expensive, limited material that is totally unsuitable for the purpose (i.e. it is porous), and you CNC mill it to get a nice, clean internal cutout that you can show in your photos (as if the inside of a torch is ever relevant to anybody), and you stick the thing together with magnets (correct me if I'm wrong but that's what it looks like) because, although again unsuitable for the purpose, it's a neat way to do it. Personally I think this a bit of an exercise in self-indulgence. But if it gets you published, good luck to you.

  • clemente

    this is so typical what the focus in design has become these day: i want to be cool and published.

    would be fresh to go back to people like mari and sapper being modest and discreet and letting good products speak for themselves

  • Jess

    A couple of things, I'll start at the top:

    Nic Howett:
    It's about time we realized that design isn't always going to save the world. Design can be about aesthetics. It can be about making subtle improvements to an archetypal object in order to make it more palatable. If the concept is to make a flashlight one can leave out in their home, then that is already enough of an improvement to the plastic crap you can buy at the market.

    James, Sven, and Nic (Again, pertaining to your second post):
    Cork is not only a sustainable material, but also one that can be made water tight. With a few coats of any off the shelf topcoat (Polyacryclic, for example, an acrylic based finish that doesn't seep into the material, but rather dries on top) cork will lose its absorbency. And Sven, the bulbs in the flashlight are clearly LEDs. LEDs do not heat up.

    Red Pull Junkie:
    I think it would be safe to assume, as I wrote to the others above, that the designer or the manufacturer could manage to seal the flashlight.

    Have you actually seen Enzo Mari's work? I'd be willing to bet anything that his work IS one of the inspirations for this product.

    All of that said, I think this is a pretty awesome take on a product that rarely gets a proper aesthetic treatment.

    • "I think it would be safe to assume, as I wrote to the others above, that the designer or the manufacturer could manage to seal the flashlight. "

      They might. And they might end up with a US$60 flashlight, which severely limits your market.

      But I thank you for your well-though comment :)

      Cork does seem to have a nice potential for a wide variety of products. I just feel it should be left out of objects that are expected to endure a certain amount of harsh conditions –would you keep a cork flashlight in your car?

      • Tiago Cartageno

        Yes, I would.

  • xtiaan

    its student work, we have no idea what his brief was, without its context its kinda harsh to say its not a successful design.

    ok, so you wont want to take it on a caving expedition but it'll get you to the candle drawer when the lights go out, and youll look stylish doing so, whats not to love?

  • I agree with xiaan, sometimes in design classes it's design for design sake, and since we have no idea what was asked of the student, there is no way of judging the merit of the design.

    P.S. Go RISD

  • The perhaps the design brief should have been included, so people are able to judge whether this is an appropriate response?

  • Peter

    I smiled when I saw this item, and enjoy it for it's experimental/creative value alone. Okay, you would not want to drop it on a building site full of red bricks, but what the heck? It's fun!