After being unveiled in the U.K. and Europe in September 2010 and winning the coveted 2011 Brit Insurance Design of the Year award this past February, the sexiest energy-efficient light bulb that this lighting-obsessed blogger has ever laid eyes on, Plumen 001, finally made its official stateside debut this weekend at the 2011 International Contemporary Furniture Fair after months of rejiggering to meet voltage requirements and certification delays. 

This past Saturday, I had the chance to ask a few questions (what took so long!?) and see The World’s First Designer Energy Saving Light Bulb in person on the floor of ICFF. This was nice and all but what I really wanted to do was test drive the sculptural CFL myself as I'd been lusting after wanting to get my hands on one ever since seeing the prototype design some time ago. So after leaving ICFF, I made my way to a special NY Design Week pop-up shop curated by fabulous online design mag Sight Unseen and purchased my very own Plumen — for $25.

Yes, I purchased a $25 light bulb. And, yes, that hurt just a bit. But Plumen, designed by Sam Wilkinson for Hulger, isn’t your ordinary CFL. I’d like to think that it is special — $25 worth of special. Like the new AlessiLux line of LEDs, this isn’t the kind of light bulb you'd want to obscure or hide. It’s a bulb that looks best naked. As the Plumen website reads: "The dynamic, sculptured form contrasts to the dull regular shapes of existing low energy bulbs, in an attempt to make the Plumen a centrepiece, not afterthought." After all, the name of the bulb comes from “Plume,” a bird's flaunt-worthy weather that's “designed to attract attention to a bird’s prowess and beauty.”

The less-sexy but still appealing technical specs of the Plumen 001: The 110 volt CFL (220v in the UK and the rest of Europe) uses 11 watts and lasts 8 years. The output is 680 lumen with a color temperature is 2700k. I screwed my Plumen into a highly visible entryway fixture (it works with any standard bulb fitting) in my apartment and right away noticed that the warm white light itself is top-notch for a CFL; a drastic improvement over the humdrum budget CFL that was in there previously (that CLF has been relegated to a far less used fixture in another part of my apartment). The Plumen 001 is not dimmable and does contain trace amounts of mercury so it must be disposed of properly and handled with care if broken.

So there you have it. This weekend, I was seduced by a $25 "designer" CFL bulb. And I'm not ashamed. Do you feel a bit of light bulb seduction coming on? Pre-order Plumen 001 for yourself for $29.95 (I got a deal, apparently) and it will ship on June 1.  Or do you think $30 is too much to spend on a light bulb even if it's on an award-winning, decorative CFL with an 8-year life? And, no, Plumen 001 does not come in the patriotic design pictured up top, although I'd like to think CFL-hater/Congresswoman Michele Bachmann would approve of it.

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