The Planet Lighting design tradition heralds back to the early 1900s, when founder WA Iggulden set up Bentley Mfg Co in Melbourne to produce building tools to patented designs, such as the 1920s ‘Speedscrew Floor Clamp’ and the 1930s ‘Bently Fibro Cutter’. Having weathered the great depression, a lighting division called Planet Products was established by the founder’s two sons, W.P. and J.M. Iggulden. In the1930s the late W.P. (Bill) Iggulden designed his first self-balanced table lamp, called the “Orbit”. The Orbit was replaced in 1938 by his brilliant “I” series range, which was still in production almost 60 years later. Following the outbreak of World War 2, Bentley-Planet became engaged in wartime production, including the first bomb-rack cradles for supply dropping on the Kokoda Trail.
A focus on lighting
Post-war, Planet began in earnest to develop lighting concepts, striving to achieving engineering excellence in lighting design. This has become a hallmark of Planet products and won the company many awards, including the inaugural Prince Phillip design prize and the Australian Design Award. Most influential of this period is undoubtedly the iconic Australian classic, the Studio K, designed by Bill Iggulden and released in 1962. The Studio K was widely exhibited internationally and is one of a few truly original examples Australian Industrial Design available during these years, and it is still a sought after light by both domestic and international collectors. Another milestone in Planet history is 1964 when the first examination light was put in production. Planet medical lights remain the most widely used in Australian hospitals and GP clinics.
In 1974 Planet decentralised to a new factory at Bellingen on the North Coast of New South Wales. The factory can still be found at this site in the beautiful Bellinger Valley.
Glass-blowing & Custom Lighting
The late 1980s saw Planet take yet another direction, with the acquisition of a commercial-scale glass blowing facility. This enabled the company to explore new business opportunities abroad – the most significant undoubtedly being supplying thousands of glass-shades to the emerging coffee-house chain Starbucks. The addition of the Ambien glass-works meant that Planet now had a fully equipped factory well placed to enter the custom lighting market. The manufacture of complex site-specific or custom design light fixtures is a highly specialised activity and through investments and accumulated techniques, skills, know-how and equipment under one roof Planet strived to provide a facility which is second to none in this specialised area of manufacturing.
By combining competitive modern manufacturing capabilities in glass, metal and light sources with softer creative capabilities that approach lighting as functional art in architecture Planet quickly become a favoured manufacturer of leading Australian and international designers and architects. A focus of artisan metal trades of spinning, casting, pressing, polishing, fabrication and turning along with all types of glass manufacture were, and still are, undertaken in-house by experienced and committed staff, many of whom are the leading experts in Australia in their field. Planet also specialises in traditional metal finishing using the techniques of sculptors and metal craftsmen – bronze finishes, patina finishes and wrought iron finishes and other metal patination techniques are employed as a standard part of the company’s manufacturing capabilities along with normal powder coating and wet spray painting.
Custom design and manufacture became and has remains one of the company’s main activities, working with international luminaries such as I M Pei, Kevin Roach, Cesar Pell, Renzo Piano on innovative lighting designs all over the world.
The last 10 years – Embracing LED technology
Planet was one of the first manufacturers to embrace the emerging LED technology and have a track record of incorporating LEDs in custom design for over 10 years. The FMC range was one of Australia’s first commercially available LED downlights and the ingenious LED minipuck revolutionised handrail lighting, winning awards nationally and abroad. Planet has since developed a range of high-performance LED downlights including the Cyanois and MRI downlights, which are the only approved LED downlights of their kind to be used in medical applications. Additionally, our medical range has grown to incorporate the ULED and a complete range of minor and major surgical lights
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