Lights are often designed to be on ceilings and walls, but now architects and designers can use them on floors as well.

Lighting company Philips and flooring firm Desso have collaborated to combine LED lighting with light transmissive carpets, with the innovation expected to unlock the potential for LED integration into surfaces, and transform the way people interact with information and their environment.

The LED carpet is an adapted version of Desso’s recyclable EcoBase backing that allows light to pass through clearly. Thin and built to be walked on, the LED panels are enclosed enough to protect against coffee spillages without overheating, while still producing sharp and bright light.  

"It's completely new concept, and patented, but there is competition. Other companies have tried to weave fibre optics into carpet, but…I don’t think it’s a realistic, scalable ideas," Ed Huibers from Philips tells On Office Magazine.

"Putting wires into carpet tiles will make production much more complicated; if you want to disturb that process, from a cost and scalability point of view, you’ll get nowhere."

According to Desso and Philips, the LED light emitting carpets will provide many benefits in the areas of information, direction, inspiration and safety, such as guiding people around buildings, and enhancing the ambience and atmosphere of interiors by combining lighting with design.

"This light transmissive carpet solution is designed to engage directly with people’s senses and the eyes’ natural inclination to seek out light. The technology takes advantage of people’s tendency to be guided by the floor when moving through and interacting with space," says Huiber.

The carpets can also help to de-clutter spaces by making information visible only when needed: unlike LED strips on airplanes, the lights remain hidden once they are switched off.

The LED carpets are being produced as a modular system, with each module combined depending on application – be it from a symbol, such as a directional arrow, to a light kit, comprising curves and lines to creates shapes or matrixes  

The product is currently being installed at pilot projects in France, Netherlands and the UK, where it will be tested for final tweaks before it is launched on a broader scale later this year, specifically in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa).

However, because of constant improvements in LED technology, exact product details have not been set in stone, says Huibers.

"They are becoming more efficient every year: the cost is going down and the power and brightness is increasing. If you gave us an order today for use in a year, we wouldn’t tell you what LEDs we’re going to use because they don’t exist yet."

Images: On Office