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Side Down Furniture. Photo courtesy of Smart and Green,

Who needs candles and string lights? Luminous furniture and accessories are where it’s at.

When Tucson’s designers and architects gathered for 3 Story’s launch party recently, there was something other than our new magazine piquing their interest.

On the back patio of the home of 3 Story’s Patty Warren sat a knee-high acrylic cube that glowed different colors in the dark, lending a space-age feel to her yard and giving the guests much to chatter about.

It was Patty’s son Evan who first spotted the luminous cubes, at an outdoor restaurant while on  vacation in Sint Maarten.

Photo courtesy of Smart & Green.

Measuring 17″ by 17″ and fitted with 52 LED lamps, they change colors across the full spectrum. The lamps are activated by a charging station. Once fully charged, the Cube can be set to illuminate white light in three brightness levels, or a flickering yellow candle effect, or a steady color of your choice, or a dynamic setting. The last is Patty’s favorite.

“It’s a delight to watch and a definite eye-catcher,” she says.  “One evening I even had some neighbors come over to my house asking what the ‘cool glowing thing’ was on my patio.”

The French manufacturer of the cubes, Smart and Green, is an eco-friendly company whose products strive to reduce electrical consumption and carbon footprints while offering new and innovative lighting products. They offer a variety of  shapes for the lamps – including Flatball, Tower, Vessel and Zen – with prices ranging from $209 for Flatball to $299 for the Cube.

Flatball. Photo courtesy of

Dewdrop. Photo courtesy of

Tower. Photo courtesy of Smart and Green,

UP Furniture. Photo courtesy of Smart and Green,

And the fun doesn’t stop there. Smart and Green also has illuminated furniture, while Illuminated Planters has pieces – from planters to wine chillers – that stand alone as sculptures, with or without the inclusion of a live plant.

Sculptural Vessel.

Wine Chiller.

Seat Planter.

            Above photos courtesy of  Illuminated Planters

The lamps are waterproof, they can be used inside or outside and they can even be floated in your pool, if so desired.  The down-side? None of these luminous objects are cheap. And since they’re sealed, with the wiring inside of them, if the LED lamp breaks, there’s no way to repair it. Also, they probably don’t want to be left outside under our blaring Arizona sun for days on end.

Cubes. Photo courtesy of Smart and Green.

For the total “green package”, ‘Patio Living Concepts‘ Garden Glo Planters with solar-powered LED lights get our vote for a perfect glowing solution.

Garden Glo Planter. Photo courtesy of Patio Living Concepts.








Here in Tucson, architect and artist Joe O’ Connell is working with LED lamps on public art pieces, like the Desert O outdoor sculpture he donated to the City of Tucson for downtown’s West Alameda.

Detail of ‘Desert O’. Photo courtesy of Creative Machines.

During the day, the sculpture gathers energy from the sun and stores it in a battery. At night, the energy stored from the sun is used to activate intensely colored LEDs inside the sculpture. Every night of the week has a distinct pattern of colored lights that move slowly inside the sculpture. Frosted acrylic panels make the entire sculpture glow brightly, and one of the bolt heads is a secret button that allows passers-by to change the colors by touching it.

But in the short few years since he completed the sculpture, LED lamps have become more powerful. O’Connell plans to upgrade the Desert O soon.  Meantime, Joe and business partner Blessing Hancock are working on three new public art pieces that will be installed over the new few years in Tucson. But that’s for another, future, 3 Story story.

The Desert O. Photo courtesy of Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock Public Art.

What is an LED lamp? It’s a solid-state lamp that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as the source of light. LEDs have many advantages over incandescent light sources including significantly lower energy consumption, much longer lifetime, smaller size and faster switching. LEDs do not contain mercury, unlike fluorescent bulbs.Thanks to the prices dropping, LED lights are now being used across the board, replacing incandescent and compact fluorescent lights in homes and offices, and even holiday lights.


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