If you search for the definition of “aurora,” you’ll see it described simply as “a natural electrical phenomenon.” A bit of historical research will find you Aurora with a capital “A,” a glowing, celestial goddess from ancient Roman mythology who announces the sun’s arrival each morning. You’re also likely to call up images of the aurora borealis (commonly known as the Northern Lights), a stunning natural wonder that some people spend their whole lives hoping to see.
When you get your first glance at a set of the Aurora Smart Lighting Panels, a shining newcomer to our assortment, its name seems exceedingly appropriate. It’s an ecodesign enthusiast’s dream, in that it’s both highly efficient and really nice to look at. It’s like a mini Northern Lights right up on your wall. It’s versatile, too. You can use it as an aesthetically pleasing alternative to an alarm clock, programming a soft glow to greet you in the morning a la Aurora the goddess. Or, once night-time hits, you can dance till dawn using the Aurora for ambiance. Just click onto your saved Party Time setting and you’re good to go.
Each set is made up of nine lightweight panels of bright, color-changing awesomeness (and there are 16 million color options, mind you) that you can control with a quick tap of the finger or a little shout out to Siri. If you’d like to grow your Aurora masterpiece, you can invest in an expansion pack with more panels — the controller unit will support up to 30 of them. The panels attach together with slim linker pieces. They’re easy to put up, take off, and reconfigure to your liking. Put simply, the Aurora is the start of what looks to be a smart light revolution.
It probably goes without saying, but — we’re really excited about having the Aurora in our assortment. Our Home Decor buyer, Jamie Hoffman, knew it was a standout from the moment she laid eyes on it.
“When I look for new products I’m most often asking myself: ‘have I seen this before?’ Needless to say, I’d never seen anything like the Aurora!” she told us.
“At first, it reminded me of interactive light boxes I’d seen in a museum, or something from a really high-tech disco. Once I learned that it was actually designed for consumers like you and me, I knew it was really special. I love that you can get the feeling of an art installation while making it a personal and fun experience — and at a good price, too!”
We were curious to learn more about this illustrious Aurora. We caught up with the designer, Gimmy Chu, to find out how he and his team made it happen.
“The belief that lighting should be a more joyful experience was largely what inspired the Aurora,” he told us. “Even though many people only see light as a function, we know that light is vital in creating the right ambiance, helping to set the mood and even helping with a healthier lifestyle. How you experience each and every moment of your day is largely determined by light, so we wanted to give that experience back to the user. We see the Aurora as the ultimate tool for self-expression.”
The Aurora is considered “smart” lighting, but Gimmy shared how it goes beyond others in that category.
“It truly gives the user the control to design, shape and create their own environment through light. Whatever shape you want, the Aurora can become that. Whatever color or hue you want, the Aurora can be. To us, it’s not really light—it’s living paint.”
And there’s the fact that you can literally talk to your Aurora, making it truly interactive. It’s designed to work through voice control on your mobile device. It’s compatible with popular options like Apple HomeKit, Android, and Amazon Alexa.
The Aurora’s smart when it comes to sustainability, too. It’s comprised of super efficient LED bulbs. LEDs use much less energy and last a heck of a lot longer than incandescent bulbs — 25 times longer, in fact.
Plus, Gimmy explained, “Wireless connectivity makes it easier for the user to control, which ultimately helps to cut down on power consumption. The Aurora has also been designed to be recyclable—after its 25,000 hour lifespan (or longer) is up, the panels can be recycled like any other electronics.”
The easily adjustable panels let you play designer. Gimmy and his team have had their own fun trying out new configurations in their office.
“We’ve made a rose, a dodgy-looking ram, a Christmas tree…but I think my favorite was when we recreated Pac Man and Pac Woman and had them dueling in a test room. My favorite arcade game as a kid came to life that day! I’m really excited to see the different ways the Aurora can be set up and to start seeing that inspiration shared. There’s definitely a social aspect to the Aurora that we want to explore with our customers.”
If your personal well of design inspiration runs dry, you can try some sample configurations from the design guide. Who could resist “Napping Unicorns,” or the “Huggable Sloth?” Natural auroras are known to change constantly, and your at-home Aurora can do the same. As Gimmy told us, “With the Aurora, lighting is interactive, playful and fits into your life, not the other way around.”