Project 4: Light Engine

Light projection using white paper

For this project, we were assigned to use white paper to create a light engine, a lamp. Some qualities of light we had to consider were:

  • Nature of the paper, which will dictate the transparency of light and also the shape of the lamp because some paper are more bendable than the other.
  • Creating a circuit with a given set of equipment.
  • Form conveying meaning — can the audience figure out how to use the lamp without any explanation?
  • Interactiveness

With these qualites in mind, I was able to come up with first three lamp designs.

Creating a working circuit

For the lamps to work, it needs a working circuit. For the purpose of the project, we worked with one mercury switch, battery, and a small LED bulb. I had to experiment with the circuits so I could create the most efficient circuit for each of the designs. I changed the circuit design for each designs and that resulted in about four different ways of connecting the lightbulb.

Design 1. Twist Light

This design uses the twisting motion to turn on and off the light. This lamp is designed to be held with one hand (size range in between 14cm — 18cm, height wise) so that it’s portable as well. The actual size of the maquette isn’t as big. When I get to make this lamp as a final, I think I would cut of the corners of the square and make the light one out through the cross section triangle as well. I used bristol paper for this design. I think the sturdiness of the paper helped to define the structure of the lamp albeit folding the paper resulted in uneven and crooked surface. Therefore, I think it would be best to make this design out of illustration board. In order to make this lamp, I connect these two trapezoid prism with two T pins. I slightly glue the pins to the paper so that they don’t fall out.

Sketches of the design.

Design 2. Mobile Light

My second design uses a lot of wire structures instead of paper. I was inspired by Alexander Calder’s mobiles when making this piece. First of all, I folded a origami ball out of tracing paper. The largest ball was made from 15cm by 15cm tracing paper and the smaller ball was made from 11cm x 11cm. This as well was just a maquette for a final design. If this were to be my final, it would be about 50cm tall desk lamp. Things I would have to consider explicitly for this design is how big can the ball become until it becomes to heavy for the mobile or even too big that lose the form?

Sketch of the design and possible circuit setup.

Design 3. Box Light

This design, I directly took it from the internet. It is originally a ring box but I thought I could turn this into a light design by changing the ring holder section into a transparent sheet using a rice paper. This will be a bed lamp people could put next to their bed and use at night. The lamp will be made with either illustration board or foam board. Using the t pins as the axis, the smaller box rotates to turn-on and turn-off the lights.

Sketch along with couple other design ideas.

Design 3. (modified) Package Light

From the box light, I was able to derive another similar design. I used a packaging box and turned it into a desk lamp. The mercury switch was placed on the top cover and were placed in a way.

The light turns on when the cover is lifted and turns off when the cover is down.

Design 4. See-saw Lamp

While I was exploring the forms for previous designs, I realized I was using a lot of cubic shape. I think I do like geometric shapes over organic shapes. So I continued to explore what other geometric shapes I could use. While exploring, I decided to create a triangular lamp. Because I wanted this to be a desk lamp, I thought the lamp should occupy least space as possible. That is why I made the “off” state vertical. Whenever the user wants to use the lamp, he or she will pull down the upper cover and lay it flat so the light radiates from the short cylinder in the middle of the opening. However, I felt like the light was emitted through only a small portion of the lamp, decreasing the efficiency of the lamp. Because this is a desk lamp, it should be bright enough for the user to see, for example, a computer screen or books.

Also, I thought balance and symmetry was an area to think about for especially this design. Because both sides of the opening looks identical, how will the user know which side is the bottom and which side is up? The bottom side contains the battery so it is heavier. So if the user were to hold up the lamp, he or she will intuitively know that the heavier side is the bottom: but is that explained well enough through the form? Honestly, I think user could get confused. Audiences will only be able to distinguish the sides if they were to hold up the piece. I think this is something that should’ve been thought out more carefully.

Left: Intermediate state Right: “Off” state
“On” state of the lamp. The light looks very blue in the photograph but it is more white than blue in real life.
Design 4 interaction video.

Final Design: modification of design 4

From design 4, I changed one of the surface material from foam board to milk jug plastic. This way, I was able to maximze the lighting portion of the lamp.

Final interaction video.

Design 5.

Fifth design was actually made through a mistake I made while creating the fourth design. I glued the foam board to the wrong side and I was going to throw it away and make a new one. However, I wanted to make use of it because the foam board was cut so neatly. So I played around with the two foam board pieces and came up with a lamp that slides up and down to turn on and off. However, I couldn’t quite figure out how to work it out.

I experimented with the sliding mechanism but I didn’t quite figure out. This is how the interiors of the lamp looked like. Also, in order for this design to work, I needed two lightbulbs but I only had one. So I tried to put the lamp right in between the rectangular bridge but that didn’t turn out so well either.
This is the ideal visual of the final piece.

Miscellaneous Designs

These are designs that I sketched in my sketchbook but weren’t able to fully develop the designs.

From left to right: Aperture-inspired lamp, shark fin lamp, and triangular lamp
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