Anthony Dickens morphs Japanese Chōchin paper lanterns into modular lighting


UK designer Anthony Dickens designed Tekio—a new modular lighting system that lit up Clerkenwell Design Week in London last week—to serve as what he calls “a simple tool for people to express themselves”.

Dickens has been developing the concept for Tekio in his London design studio since returning from a visit to Japan in 2010. During his travels he was inspired by the beauty of the traditional Chōchin paper lanterns and resolved to adapt the craft of lantern-making into a contemporary modular product.

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The result is an endlessly customizable lighting system—any number of lightweight elements can be connected to create a minimal but sculptural illuminated installation, and each paper section can be extended in a straight line or a curve. The more elements that are introduced, the more ambitious the form of the light can be. Straight, rectangular, triangular, circular, interlocking, spiral—the configurations, as Dickens says, are “limited only by your imagination”.


The variety of forms is made possible by an internal aluminum frame with hinges that can be locked at any angle, from 90-180 degrees. On this frame sit either LED or CFL bulbs, with elements held neatly together by magnets to make them easy to adapt and reconfigure.


Dickens has said that the lighting project began as a way of showcasing the creativity of his design studio, and in pursuing this goal he’s developed an ancient Japanese craft into a remarkable contemporary lighting system—appropriately enough, Tekio means “adaptation” in Japanese. Up until this point all the Tekio prototypes have been developed and made in Dicken’s studio but now, Dickens is looking for a manufacturer who can take on the challenge of producing Tekio at scale.