Studio Project 4: Lighting Engines

November 15, 2016

As part of brainstorming and playing with the materials, I started off building a simple box with a single LED, the batteries, and the mercury inside. The wall closest to the LED was made out of printer paper and the rest of the box was made out of printer paper so that there was a clear up side. When the user turned the box upside down, the part with the thinner paper lit up.

In making this quick prototype, I realized that having a light on the inside of the structure shows all of the structure on the inside. Therefore anything I make that has a light behind it has to look good on the inside and out.

November 17, 2016

For class today we had to make three models of different light fixtures out of paper. One of the ideas I had was to make the object function like a popup book so that there is an interesting motion paired with the flipping of the switch so that whenever the light was turned on, it was a kind of spectacle. I started with a simple popup book that was just different size triangles.

Though the paper I used was not thin enough to have the light diffuse through all of the triangles, the motion of the popup book worked really well with turning of the switch. This is a very rich interaction and I will keep it in mind moving forward in the process.

The next idea I researched was a paper sphere lamp shade. The structure is made out of twenty five pieces of paper that all hook together and form a ball. I found a template for the individual pieces online and cut them out and assembled them.

The light that this produces is really nice because the bends in the paper allow for the light to cast gradients along the curves. After making this ball, I was inspired by the idea of making a large structure out of repeated pieces that were all the same and fit together. I started to look into origami methods of linking small structures together. I found some instructions for an origami star that is made out of twelve identical pieces.

all of the pieces slip over one another covering up all of the seems on the outside which was really nice. Ideally, all of the pieces are linked together in a circle and the object is capable of being turned inside out. I think that the motion of being turned inside out would be an interesting interaction for a user and it would work perfectly if, I could attach the mercury switch inside and during the motion of turning the object inside out, the switch would be flipped, illuminating the object. I was having trouble getting the entire object come together because it was really fragile. In my next round of prototyping, I will replicate the structure of the origami pattern but construct it using tape and stronger paper.

November 21, 2016

Today I worked on modifying the idea of the origami star to make it stronger and hold a light. When the user turns the edges of the device in on themselves the star changes shape and lights up.

While I like the idea of the shape of the object transforming when the user does the action to turn the light on, the way the shape is now, it would be very unlikely that the user could figure out how to operate the device on their own.

November 27, 2016

Over the break I started thinking about ways that I could open and close the light. It is easiest to turn the device inside out from the points, so I tried attaching strings to each of the points that would pull the star closed. This worked fairly well, but I still struggled with finding a way for the user to operate the strings. I first tried attaching the string that needed to be pulled to a telescoping piece of paper. When the tube was pulled apart, the string was pulled into the tube, closing the star. I tried to mount this so that the tube held up the star. This was still very confusing to use because no other lamp is operated through extending the pole that the lamp shade sits on.

Next, I tried a similar approach, but flipped the whole thing upside down so it was like a hanging lamp. I made the string that the user needs to pull longer and fed it down through the star shape, which made something that resembled a conventional pull chord on a lamp.

By using the lamp this way, I could get rid of the telescoping tube and replace it with a pulley at the top. Also, hanging the lamp helped me solve the issue of housing the battery pack. I built a pyramid at the top of the tube that is attached to the ceiling to hold the battery. I chose the pyramid as the shape because it was similar in form to the star, making the whole piece more coherent. I threaded the wires down through the tube, which hid them from view for the most part. However the are still visible in the area between the end of the tube and the star, so I will need to find a way to conceal them.

November 30, 2016

Today I rebuilt the star with less points and connected the pieces with glue rather than tape. I also built the part that the star hangs from with better craft so that when the strings are pulled, the device closes completely. I also had to make the pyramid that held the battery at the top larger because the first one was not big enough to have the battery and a pulley inside it.

December 3, 2016

Today I assembled the pieces that I built on Wednesday and started to solve some of the issues with the electronics.

In the pyramid at the top, I used a loop of paper to attach the batter pack to the square base. Under this, I build a tube of paper that would act as a pulley. When I tried this design out, I learned that the string was sliding around too much on the pulley and tangling with the wires that were in the top. I added some rolls of paper that acted a guards that kept the string in the same place.

I decided that the best way to hide the exposed wires that come out of the tube, would be to wrap them in something white so that they would blend in with the strings that the lamp hangs from. I can either wrap them in string or white tape. After trying both, the string seemed like it blended in better because it was the same material as what the lamp is already hanging from, just a little thicker.

At the intersection of the tube and the pyramid, there is an ugly joint because the cylinder does not fit into the square hole that was left from cutting the tip tip off the pyramid. To fix this I tried replacing the cylindrical tube with a rectangular hollow, but even though it fit better, it looked strange because things are normally hung from wires or cables which are all have a circular cross section. Tomorrow, I will try using the cylinder again, and I will cover up the messy joint with a smaller shape that slips over the intersection.

Like what you read? Give Max Stropkay a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.