Ryan Taylor is the Toronto-based designer responsible for the Babylon Light, a plantable hanging lamp made of powder-coated aluminum. According to Taylor, “it can be used as an organic centre piece or a working herb garden over the kitchen counter. No matter where it’s situated – Babylon will become your very own hanging garden.”
As beautiful as this concept is, I can’t help but be suspicious that it is more a matter of form than function. My guess, at least, is that the use of the lamp would heat the bottom of the planter to a point where the roots would be destroyed, and that any hanging tendrils in close proximity to the bulb would be fried to a crisp. Plus, lack of drainage would lead to waterlogged plants and potential electrocution risk.
Instead of wondering, I went ahead and asked the creator, Ryan, himself. Read on to see what he had to say.
Ryan was very polite in response to my questioning, and acknowledged that while the Babylon Light isn’t the ideal planting vessel, his goal was to achieve “a balance of three things: a functioning light fixture, plantable vessel and visual aesthetic.” In his experience, he says, plants benefit from light waterings and frequent misting, noting that “smaller, lighter plants work best from a technical and aesthetic stand point.” For this reason, he suggests using moss to retain moisture while reducing weight. Other selections include thyme, ferns and succulents, taking care to make sure all the plants in your arrangement have similar water requirements.
Regarding the potential hazardous effects of the lamp, Ryan tells me that “the electrical component is sealed off from where the water is held. Depending on the bulb it could make the aluminum shade sightly warmer and cause the soil to dry out more quickly than normal, but it’s not enough to burn or harm the roots.” He also notes that it is possible to use CFL or LED bulbs, which emit much less heat than their traditional incandescent counterpart.
I hadn’t thought to use the Babylon for something like a succulent arrangement, which would make a lot of sense. These plants are used to heat, have shallow roots and require next to no water. But now that I’m thinking about it… if the plants are ontop of the light (and closer to the ceiling than anything else in the room) how much light do they receive themselves?
The good news is, you won’t have to wonder much longer. Soon you can start doing experiments of your own, as the Babylon Light is slated to be released in May at a price of a little over $400 US.
Photos © Ryan Taylor