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November 2020 · Product Design · For: Myself

Ambient Light

→ Targeted small light sources allow subtle subdivision of the space. Ambient Light is a small, passive and versatile dimmable light source.

ambient light on a desk
Ambient Light on a desk

Ambient light is a product-design- idea for a mobile work and reading lamp that can be used to create a light microclimate for human events. The stepless dimming enables light intensities from candlelight to a desk-friendly luminosity of 400 lumens. At this point, it should be noted that the design does not aim to be a work or reading light in the classic sense, but to create atmospheres for all kinds of things.

In a building with uniform light level, there are few "places" which function as effective settings for human events. This happens because, to a large extent, the places which make effective settings are defined by light.

Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language, Oxford, Pattern 135

ambient light on a desk
Ambient Light on a desk

Effective Settings

We can therefore assume that the creation of illuminated areas in a living and/or working environment simultaneously leads to the creation of effective settings for human events. As we can see from the book "A Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander, the thesis is supported by studies from Hopkinson and Longmore.

One possible explanation is suggested by the experiments of Hopkinson and Longmore, who showed that small bright light sources distract the attention less than large areas which are less bright. These authors conclude that local lighting over a work table allows the worker to pay more attention to his work than uniform background lighting does.

Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language, Oxford, Pattern 252

While the conclusion described above addresses the topic of increased efficiency at the workplace, this project can also be used to create retreats - for example to read a book. Several of these lamps can be used for the modular lighting of one or more rooms. In this way, effective settings can be created that are visually recognizable as such through light and shadow.

ambient light whole
In the workspace

Design and Development

The basic shape was designed in such a way that all necessary components can be easily assembled and fastened with black anodized fastening screws. An aluminum heat sink dissipates the heat generated by the LED. Ventilation slots on the bottom and on the top of the body allow air to circulate and prevent the lamp from overheating.

ambient light whole
exploded view


A standard DC voltage of 12V can be connected to the rear. The brightness can be regulated with a rotary control. As usual with LEDs, the lamp is dimmed using a PWM signal. Together with Elias Mack, a driver board which is precisely tailored to the requirements of the luminaire, was created. We decided to publish the circuit of this board. Read about it here.

custom pcb
The driver board


Designed and manufactured by Leo Mühlfeld. The Driver Board was designed by Elias Mack. Thanks to Felix Lenz, Can Denzer and Ben Schneider for the help.