Design devotee blogs about cities, innovation and architecture.
Off Duty No More: Clever LED lamps worth flagging down
Want to own an authentic piece of NYC history that reminds you of the abject terror experienced while huddled in the back of a cab during rush hour in Midtown? Now, thanks to Off Duty No More taxi lamps, you can.
Is your $650 wooden subway bench uprooted from the bowels of New York City’s public transportation system just not cutting it when it comes to upycled, Big Apple-themed home décor? Well then, now you can also grace your home with authentic mementos taken from NYC's preferred aboveground mode of transportation, taxicabs, in the form of Off Duty No More taxi lamps.
The creation of artist/designer/urban archeologist Guilhem de Castelbajac, these clever lamps are indeed real retired New York City taxi lights that have been carefully restored, retrofitted, and repurposed as functional interior light fixtures/conversation pieces. Each former cab-topper has been cleaned up, custom fitted with energy-efficient LEDs, and mounted on a powder-coated metal base that mimics the roof of an actual cab and houses all of the lighting hardware. A simple press of a button — as demoed in the videos below — allows for five different illumination options. What I want to know is, how in the world did Castelbajac, the son of famed French aristocrat/fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and former model Catherine de Castelbajac, source these things?
Have fond memories of careening, white-knuckled, through the streets of Paris in a back of a taxi? In addition to New York City taxi lamps, Castelbajac offers authentic salvaged Paris taxi lamps as well.
A rubbernecking highlight of this year’s Wanted Design exhibition that showed as part of NY Design Week, the Off Duty No More website explains that “the re-purposing of these iconic lights as interior lamps lends a second life to a utilitarian design that is slowly being rendered obsolete. These increasingly discarded artifacts, which are a part of the design archaeology of our cities, can invoke feelings of familiarity, comfort, and safe passage in our homes."
Fantastic. Each upcycled taxi light table lamp is signed and numbered by Castelbajac and sold directly through the Off Duty No More Website for $1,200 a pop. This may seem steep for a decorative LED table lamp, but consider their history and the work that went into sourcing and restoring this iconic urban artifacts that would have otherwise sat around collecting dust in a warehouse. Current offerings include both 1960s- and 1990s-era NYC taxi lamps along with the Paris taxi lamps.
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