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Thermory wood in the hands of designers: Urmas Sarapuu and SU Lighting

The thing with design is that until someone comes up with a brilliant idea, it does not exist. Just look at basic elements such as air, water, light and plants… They are undeniably important, but it takes a keen designer to put together plants and light and come up with SU Lighting for plants.

According to Urmas Sarapuu, he was inspired while sitting at home on his couch one day. It was growing dark outside and when his floor to ceiling plant disappeared into the dusk, he knew something was missing. He suddenly recalled how he had once put lighting under the Christmas tree and how its rays had made the tree come alive. He instantly knew that what was missing was light.

A cut above

Lighting intended for indoor plants wasn’t anything new, but Sarapuu wanted to illuminate the plant not the planter, and there was nothing like that available on the market back then.

SU Lighting for plants follows a clear principle – it is intended to light up plants and brighten the interior.  “We designed it in a way that the strip of light sits above the planter and is not concealed by it. The bottom part of the planter can be made from different materials and serves as a design element during the day when the lights are not on,” says Urmas Sarapuu, describing the ingeniously simple design.

But this design is a cut above. The designer said he had previously noticed small children being captivated by the planters at fairs. But it wasn’t until he was showcasing his products at Estonian Design House when a young lady said, “What’s there to be surprised about. It’s scientifically known that illuminating the underside of a leaf results in photosynthesis, which has a soothing effect on people”, that he knew the allure of his plant lighters was the bright green color of chlorophyll. It is the same charm that brings people to woods and parks to admire sunlight shining through the leaves.

Handcrafted from select materials

All SU Lighting for plants are crafted by hand. “We don’t want to mass produce and make things like everyone else; we want to be different and offer an exclusive product,” says Sarapuu explaining his choice of technology and materials.

The planters can be made from numerous materials, as long as clients know what to ask for, because the company’s aim is to create a handmade product to fit its environment perfectly. According to Sarapuu, they especially enjoy using Thermory Ash due to its beautiful pattern and properties suitable for both interior and exterior use.

Thermory Ash has a luxurious exotic chocolate color and a high durability class equal to the finest tropical woods such as teak and ipe. Its dimensional stability and more uniform color and appearance give it a clear advantage over tropical wood. (Read more: Sustainable use of wood: thermally modified vs. tropical wood)

“Thermally modified wood is much stronger and more stable than regular wood,” admits Sarapuu and adds with a smile that people sometimes don’t believe it is real because it feels so clean and smooth to the touch. “We use milling to cut out the parts for the lights and glue the edges together at a 45-degree angle so tightly that we need to use a syringe. It requires as much precision as clock making!” It would be easy to make the whole thing out of plastic, but it’s precisely the angle of the cut that causes the light to bend, resulting in three-dimensional shadows and shapes.

The lights are dimmable and allow you to set the appropriate mood yourself, which further adds to the product’s personal touch.

Urmas Sarapuu enjoys making the lighters with his own two hands. “I tinker around with it and it often serves as meditation.”

We all know Estonia is small. But when an idea is big, it can go far and wide. With the help of EAS, Urmas Sarapuu has introduced his product at numerous fairs and SU Lighting is now also available in Switzerland, Australia and the US.

Find out more at SU Valgus

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