When we got the opportunity to work with Pablo on a video for their UMA Sound Lantern, we were very excited because not only have we long been fans of Pablo’s lighting, but this new product was more than just another light: it’s also a portable, wireless bluetooth speaker. Therefore, we were able to get creative and tell not only a visual story, but an audible one as well.
The UMA’s minimalist silhouette that nods to the traditional lantern, and its thoughtful sleek aesthetic lends itself to easily to any atmosphere or setting. The warm LED has more than an on-off capability: adjust the intensity using a control dial to create the perfect ambiance, whether dining, lounging by the pool, hanging at the beach or camping… The quality leather strap reminds you that this isn’t just any old lamp, but it’s been lovingly designed and well crafted to last. Controlling the sound via bluetooth, you can stream any audio from any mobile device with 360° high fidelity surround sound. When we got our hands on the UMA, we were more than impressed. Even Mr. Design Milk stopped to comment on the care that went into everything about the device from the branding to the packaging to the small details. Designed by Pablo Pardo and Carmine Deganello, UMA’s versatility has been well thought out and well executed.
Check out some of our photos from “behind the scenes”:
While we were filming, we had a chance to speak with Pablo Pardo, Founder and Designer at Pablo, about UMA:
Where did the idea of a lantern + speaker come from?
We’re extremely passionate about designs that blur boundaries and that can elevate and enrichen our daily lighting experiences. As a lighting company we are constantly in search of opportunities to add wonder and utility into our lighting designs and UMA became the ideal platform for us to do just that.
Three years ago, Carmine Deganello and I set out to reimagine and create the portable lantern for the “modern” age while invoking the primal symbolism of the “traditional” lantern and the warmth of a campfire. Due to the great advances in rechargeable battery technology and the high-fidelity digital sound, we felt we were in a perfect trajectory to fuse these elements with state-of-the art LED technology to create a new portable light + sound device that goes everywhere you want to go. It’s amazing how well people have responded to UMA. When its light and sound come together, it becomes the focal point of the space and it brings people together in a magical way.
You’re an expert at making lighting, but were there any challenging technical requirements or workarounds when designing UMA with respect to the speaker or portability factors?
Moving into the sound + light space was an absolutely monumental learning curve for us given our focus had been exclusively lighting centric. Although UMA’s very simple conical form factor and footprint were defined fairly early in the development process, it took many months working closely with an expert team of audio engineers to help optimize UMA’s electronic component layout so that both light and sound elements were working in perfect harmony. Given that this is a portable product, we went to great lengths to design UMA’s frame so it was perfectly balanced, lightweight and rugged in every possible setting, while its prominent outer shell works beautifully as a diffusor but can also withstand the demands of a portable life. Uma is also designed for inclement weather conditions and travels with a personal tote that illuminates through its cotton fabric lining. We sweated every detail to make it easy for people to use and enjoy in every occasion.
Are there any sustainable features to highlight?
Sustainable design is a major focus of our work. We feel that designing for “long life” is the most sustainable approach. UMA also features highly energy efficient warm-dim LEDs which allow for setting the mood as you go. UMA also boasts a battery life up to 8 hours with both light and sound. UMA is designed for disassembly at the end of its life, is 97% recyclable and packs small for efficient packaging and transport.
Who do you see using UMA, and where/how?
UMA is really designed for everyone that’s interested in creating a magical light + sound atmosphere for themselves and their friends. It can be used everywhere—at home around the dinner table, bedside, outdoors next to the pool, at the beach or camping in the woods. It’s like a portable campfire with tunes and serves as the ultimate travel companion.
How important is authenticity in design?
Original design is at the heart of our design philosophy and authentic design should reflect our personal values and aspirations. Good design is authentic.
What unique considerations did you take into account when designing UMA that you don’t necessarily have to consider with other kinds of lighting?
UMA is our first portable light + speaker so there were a multitude of considerations to be able to create both a great light but also a great-sounding speaker. We made sure all user interface controls were carefully positioned and integrated seamlessly for intuitive use. We favored a “less is more” design approach by highlighting UMA’s lighting aspect and understating its audio element, allowing one to discover its dual-purpose capacity. We also introduced a leather handle to add a material richness and tactility and give it a natural touch that ages over time. As a portable object it needed to be lightweight and provide excellent performance in a wide range of environments including inclement weather conditions.
How has technology affected lighting design over the past 5-7 years?
There is no question that lighting design is experiencing an unparalleled moment in history where technology is changing so fast thats its a challenge to just keep up with all the innovations. LED technology has improved dramatically over the past 5 years and is integrating seamlessly unto all kinds of materials and surfaces whether flat or volumetric. Lighting design is at an important crossroads that is enabling a sort of cross pollenization and mass integration to create new and exciting hybridized platforms that are more responsive to our human needs and desires than ever before. We are thrilled to be working in this space where practically any design we can dream up today is possible to realize tomorrow. I believe the quality of our lighting experiences lives will improve dramatically in the coming years as long as designers are good stewards to for the world and the human condition.