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How Three Friends Reinvented The Light Bulb
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Nanoleaf began with three friends, an idea, and a design. Gimmy Chu, Tom Rodinger and Christian Yan were all working in different industries before they combined their strengths in 2012 to found Nanoleaf, a green technology company focused on creating a more energy efficient LED light bulb. In 2013 they took to the popular crowdfunding platform ‘Kickstarter’ to try and get funding to make their dreams, and their bulb, a reality.

The reaction was overwhelming. Thanks to eco-conscious backers, power-bill-conscious backers and lovers of design, they took in a whopping 273,278 USD over the course of their campaign. More than thirteen times the goal they’d set for themselves. It became clear that their ‘NanoLight’ (the name of their Nanoleaf One prototype) was a hit. The Kickstarter campaign effectively launched their entire company. But what makes this bulb so special?

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The evolution of LED bulb aesthetics is a revolution of design

The Nanoleaf One is unlike any other light bulb in existence. That much becomes obvious the second you lay eyes on its unconventional origami design. Instead of glass, the outside of the bulb is PCB. This makes the bulbs shatter-resistant. Nanoleaf’s patented Laser-scoring process allows them to fold the PCB, much like the ancient art form of origami does with paper. This provided Nanoleaf with a unique design opportunity: unrestrained freedom in revolutionizing the LED bulb design.

They settled on a shape based on one of Plato’s foundational solids: the dodecahedron. While impossible to say quickly three times in a row, this angular and spherical shape makes it the perfect solution for getting 360-degrees of uniformed light distribution out of the bulbs flat circuit boards.

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But it gets even more interesting underneath the hood…

The Nanoleaf One’s diode-dotted jigsaw-like assembly is unconventional, but what’s underneath the exterior of this LED bulb is even more impressive. While LED bulbs are usually fitted with aluminum heat sinks, they tend to overheat. This reduces the bulb’s overall efficiency and longevity. To increase efficiency, Nanoleaf One bulbs are fitted with copper heat sinks for each individual LED. Each LED is a bespoke, custom-manufactured lighting package.

What that means is: every tiny piece is its own self-contained source of energy efficiency. The bulbs’ power supplies are all custom designed pieces of technology, providing each bulb with stable and efficient energy. Thanks to the design’s effective use of space, Nanoleaf got all of this to fit in such a small bulb.

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The Nanoleaf One: winner of the SEAD Global Efficiency Award and Red Dot Design Award

2015 started off with a bang for Nanoleaf. With innovation on both the outside and inside of the Nanoleaf One, it was only a matter of time before they’d receive industry recognition for their unconventional design and their energy efficiency.

The design of their 75-watt bulb garnered it the Global Efficiency Awardfrom the SEAD (Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment Initiative), sharing the spotlight with Cree’s 100-watt light bulb. Nanoleaf beat out brands Globe Electric and Xiamen Yankon as international winners of this prestigious award.

For its unique and eye-catching outer design the Nanoleaf one received the Red Dot Product Design Award, ahead of other product design innovations from Econlux’s OrbiLED and Ikea’s PS2014. The Red Dot Design jury had this to say about the Nanoleaf One:

This innovative LED light bulb impresses with a characteristic design as well as a sophisticated functionality.

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How your light bulb can save you 70,000 dollars over a lifetime

Whether you’re trying to cut down on your energy bill or trying to be more eco-conscious, we’re all trying to become more energy efficient. Most people think that ‘going green’ and eco-friendly means breaking the bank and (for instance) purchasing expensive solar panels. But there are many small changes you can make that have a large impact when combined.

In a previous blog, we showed you how painting your roof white could save you up to 40% on your electricity bill. A cost-efficient way of being more energy-efficient. The Nanoleaf is another easy way to save energy: with only 10 Nanoleaf One bulbs in your house, you could save up to 135 USD every year. This is because the Nanoleaf One takes only 12W to light, as opposed to the 100W necessary to light an incandescent.

Transport this situation to your office where having double the amount of bulbs lit for a longer amount of time can save your company over 1079 USD every year. Thanks to the Nanoleaf One’s longevity, this will result in high savings with a minimum amount of effort. And your bulbs will look a lot more interesting as well!

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One look and Bunny Yan had to add Nanoleaf to! founder Bunny Yan was so enamored with the beautiful origami design of the Nanoleaf One bulbs and their green energy reputation that she simply had to feature them on her site.

However, on all products are categorized in 4 different collections: the Upcycle collection, which turns unused materials into products. The Recycle collection, which turns recycled material into products. The From Nature collection, which hosts products made from all-natural elements. A Good Cause collection, which means products the proceeds of which will go to various charities. Nanoleaf, however, fit the bill for none of these categories. But on an eco-conscious site as, there had to be room for the most energy efficient bulb in the world! So Bunny came up with a brand new collection: Sustainable Living.

Products like the Nanoleaf One encourage and enable us to live a more sustainable, eco-conscious and energy efficient life. Products like this have a positive impact on the world, and that’s what is all about!

As soon as I saw the Nanoleaf One, I was sold. I’ve never seen a textured light bulb like that before. I love the fact that the most attractive bulb is also the greenest bulb out there! -Bunny Yan, founder of

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Nanoleaf has also made an impact in the art world

One could argue that the Nanoleaf One’s incredible design is art in and of itself. But in Calgary, Canada the artists Caitlind R.C. Brown and Wayne Garrett have taken things one step further.

One of their latest installations is now open to the public and involves Nanoleaf in a big way. The artists have created a multi-layered and audience-activated installation by using 100 Nanoleaf One bulbs. The beams of light generated by the bulbs pass between two floors, illuminating the past and future of the so-called ‘Barron’ building in which it resides. The use of Nanoleaf bulbs also link the sustainability and art of the bulb itself, with its eco-friendly inside and eye-catching outside.

This project, which they dubbed ‘As Above So Below’, is just one of many intriguing projects from the Calgary natives. We’re sure to hear more of this underrated duo as they make their impact on the art scene!

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Originally published at on November 10, 2015.