Niels Datema exploits graphite's conductive
properties to illuminate Graphlights


Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Niels Datema has designed a lamp made entirely of graphite, which illuminates when its two parts connect (+ slideshow).

Graphlights by Niels Datema

Niels Datema took advantage of graphite's electrical conductivity to alleviate the need for a switch to turn his Graphlights on or off.

Instead, the base and shade act as positive and negative terminals, which form a complete circuit when they touch and illuminate the bulb.

Graphlights by Niels Datema

"The multi-applicability of graphite formed the root of my interests for finding a way for using and transforming this material and applying it in an everyday product," said Datema.

Graphlights by Niels Datema

Graphite, more commonly used for pencil leads, is made up of a specific stable arrangement of carbon atoms that allows electricity to pass through easily.

Graphlights by Niels Datema

Datema shaped the material using a similar process to casting ceramics, forming two cylinders for the base and the shade.

Graphlights by Niels Datema

The shade includes a frosted diffuser that covers the bulb set back from the edge of the tube. Its rounded shape sits within a concave section of the base, which has an angled slice cut through it.

Graphlights by Niels Datema

Graphite is also a good dry lubricant, so the light can be easily repositioned to point in different directions by rotating the top section of the stand. An electrical cable connects the base to the power supply.

Datema graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in 2013 and set up his own design studio the year before. He has also designed a set of five measuring spoons that give the correct quantities of flour, water, yeast, sugar and oil to bake the perfect loaf of bread.

  • mrswoo

    Another wonderful thing from Mr Datema.

  • Chris MacDonald

    Really nice idea. Any chance of the user getting a shock?

  • Romain_M

    Does the graphite leave a mark? I suppose the material isn’t as prone to crumble as it would in an ordinary pencil (a different treatment perhaps?), but you’d still have to wonder whether this is a durable choice.

    Silver is an excellent conductor of electricity. Has anyone made a similar lamp out of it?