Bag-like portable lamp concept takes a page from traditional Korean lanterns

Lamps are a normal part of everyday life, giving light and creating moods anywhere, anytime, even during the day. Conventional lamp designs involve fixtures placed on walls, hanging from ceilings, or even standing up from floors and desks, all of them permanent or semi-permanent. Of course, some lamps can be carried, and there was a time when these were the only kind of lamps that lit up houses and paths as what we now call “lanterns.” Most portable lamps these days take a more practical and space-efficient shapes like cylinders and boxes, but this design concept throws convention out the window with a lamp design that looks like a cross between a traditional paper lantern and a modern bag.

Designer: Hyejin Cho

Once upon a time, all sources of light were pretty much fire hazards. Metal lanterns used combustible kerosene and paper lanterns enclosed candles in, well, paper. The latter was a common design in Asia, like the Korean Chorong which used white cloth covering a wooden frame to protect the candle inside from blowing winds. Of course, we have electricity and LEDs today to make all of that safer, but there’s also a certain charm to the sight of a lantern’s fabric billowing gently in the wind.

This portable lamp design concept brings that past aesthetic to the present but with a few modern twists. The lamp, named after that same Chorong lantern, tries to capture the unique visual of the fabric-covered lighting but uses 3D-printed transparent PLA to achieve the same effect. Rather than going for a straightforward box, the shape of the container twists and bends, almost like how the cloth would have behaved in the past.

The light source itself is a white sphere with a dozen or so LEDs inside providing illumination. The lamp’s steel base not only serves as a stable foundation but also as a compartment to hide the electronics, including a rechargeable battery. This modern Chorong also deviates from the traditional design by using a handle that uses anodized aluminum and stands only on two sides of the “lantern,” namely, the front and the back. This gives the lamp an unusual appearance and experience of carrying a bag instead of a lamp.

Chorong wouldn’t be the first to try to recreate a traditional lantern design with modern materials, but it is one that isn’t too concerned about staying faithful to the original. It tries to capture the spirit of the design, one that not only illuminates but also inspires with its organic beauty, and reinterprets it in a way that shows off modern materials and techniques. That said, this design concept is more for show and might be impractical to actually use outdoors unless you’re just bringing it out to the backyard to enjoy a calm night under the stars.