Yoshi Torralva

Now, you can see me fulfill my dream of being a lighting designer for the next couple of weeks!

November 7, 2018—Experimenting with different types of paper

We weren’t asked to make lights from the start but, experiment with our very broad medium…paper. Steve and Stacie gave our class a lightbulb that rotated on a saucer. With this fixture they gave us, they wanted me to manipulate the paper in different ways.

Here are the photos I took while experimenting with the paper. This exercise was rather helpful as it showed me the diversity within the medium of paper. As you can see, some paper makes the light really blue or even pink in some cases. Additionally, with light passing through the paper, it creates a visual sense of texture depending on the thickness and tooth.

I particularly liked this one because the folding of the triangles created a nice texture within the paper:

November 8, 2018—My context

Design a lighting engine that supports navigating a path

November 12, 2018 — First/Second attempt at making a lighting engine

I went to the art store to get different types of paper. Here’s what I got:

  • Yupo Paper — Feels like really thin plastic and diffuses the light amazingly.
  • Bristol Paper—The same type of paper I used for the intersections project. I don’t particularly like this paper because it has an unpleasant appearance once light passes through it.
  • Tracing Paper—Light passes through it really easily so this might be great for diffusing the light.
  • Foam core—This was the most rigid type of medium I had. I also wanted to experiment with partially cutting through it to mold the foam.

Mockup 1 — More for a conference room not a path

I only used foam core for this light because I wanted to explore a possible way in molding a rather rigid piece of paper. As you can see in the photos, I made cuts that went through the first layer of paper and the foam only. Using a ruler, I made geometric shaped that let light out.

What people said:

  • Like the geometric shapes on the sides but the ends are too harsh in light.
  • Some thought my context was to light up a conference room.
  • No entry point into the light. Visually lost in where to view the lighting engine first.

The light diffused really well with this lighting engine. However, I felt that it didn’t give any sense of direction. I learned that just having an elongated lighting fixture didn’t necessarily mean that it implied navigation. After reviewing the light and other’s comments, I realized that the cutouts served as a crutch for not being a navigational light. With the next iteration, I want to explore more organic forms that still entice a sense of direction.

Mockup 2 — The Organic S Curve

Since the first mockup really had no sense of direction, I wanted to created a form that moved your eye from the front to the end of the light. Even though I knew making technical sketches may not be the most viable, I wished to explore different forms before using the really expensive Yupo paper (10 dollars!) I decided to do expressive drawings from what I learned in visualizing to find the right curve.

November 14, 2018—Experimenting with new forms and paper

November 19, 2018—Feeling farther from my 2nd prototype

I had a conversation with Stacie that helped me reassess my iterations. She asked me how I was feeling about my current light and I said that I felt that I strayed farther away from my previous model.

November 21, 2018—Thanksgiving break and reflecting on my light

It’s only the first day back and I’m already looking at the lights in my home and public areas in Florida. I found that many lights in Florida were less prominent as much of the architecture had an emphasis on letting in natural light. In my room, I have a large lamp shade hanging over my room. Even though it diffuses the light from the sides, the bulb is bare from the bottom…So I guess this calls for some room improvement over this winter break!

November 25, 2018—Making scale models to assess forms

As I said before, the paper I’m using isn’t cheap. Since I’m making a light at such a huge scale, I constantly have to use one large sheet of 32 by 40 Stonehenge Creme Paper.

A pattern I used for the lighting engine

November 26, 2018—Large scale models and assessing craft

So today, I moved from cream to white stonehendge paper! It has made such a difference in the overall aura of the lighting engine. Before, the cream paper had green hues that made it less pleasant to look at.

November 27, 2018—Understanding and applying advice while talking to Stacie

Today we were supposed to come in with close to final lighting engines. To be honest, I felt pretty content with my navigation light. The form was organic and it was made out of only one piece of paper. These themes were something I was trying to achieve with my cardboard carrier and I think I was able to apply it to this light. Even though I felt confident about my light I wanted to ask Marissa and Stacie what they saw and how the light moved them.


The most important topic we discussed was how the ends of the light felt bland compared to the sides. Marisa said that she would want to view the sides but the light is set up for you to look at it from end to end. So, my goal was to flow the same energy within the curve to the ends of the light. I went back to the art store and picked up vellum. With this, I cut out a curve at both ends and recovered it with Vellum. Even though this did carry a unifying line throughout the entire light, I think that it made the form less organic and rather forced.

Talking to Stacie:

I showed the somewhat edited model with the cutouts on the ends. She did agree that it didn’t add to the idea of navigating a path. What we did though was circle around my light a lot; looking at it from side to side and looking straight upwards. Stacie pointed out that my light confused her in a way due to the curves. She said that sections of the light moved you in one direction or the other. I didn’t really notice this until talking to Stacie. So…this meant I need to develop a way to form the same shape to lead you in only one direction.

Working with the bone-folding spine:

Through this iterative process, folding a curve into the paper has stayed relatively consistent. Due to the newly found problem with the navigation light, I needed to experiment with proportions of the curve. I used tabloid paper as it was around the same scale as the Stonehenge paper to make mock prototypes. I was mainly focused on the ending curves and how the affected the entire form of the light.

What I realized:

  • Instead of making a large “s”, I needed to make the middle a straight line to give direction
  • I need to cut corners of the paper to match the singular liner form

The talk with Marisa and Stacie was very helpful but challenging to come to terms with. After working for a couple of hours with the small-scaled paper, trying to unify the navigation line, I felt that I should just stick with what I had. This constant debate that I had in my head pushed me back many hours. I was worried that if I changed the design too much, I could lose my iterative process. However, I called it a day today and I’ll revisit this situation tomorrow.

I tried to lengthen out the design but it looked flat compared to the previous prototype…

November 28, 2018—Refining from yesterday

With this project especially, looking a something for too long can often be more hurtful. I saw this becoming a larger problem as I constantly kept refining small details that were often hard to distinguish. This is why I tried to take breaks in between each small or large model I made. Aside from my realization, I finally got to a place where I was able to be confident with my lighting engine.

Like I said yesterday, I really just wanted to keep with I already had. But after looking at it with fresh eyes today, the issue of it navigating you in two directions at once became more apparent. I knew I had to fix it but figuring the how was a problem. Like yesterday, I decided to make smaller models before getting into larger paper. This helped me to find the right proportions of the curve.

When I went to the art store today, I discovered that they restocked their translucent Yupo paper. I decided that I wanted to try to make it out of Yupo one time.

To be honest, Yupo paper is amazing but it has a lot of problems when molding the light.

  • Too plastic looking
  • Not respectful of paper
  • The soft diffusion and zero tooth was a crutch for me to not deal with paper

What I did do with this Yupo experimentation was to apply my new pattern from the small scale models.

Here’s what I changed:

  • Closing the two openings so the outside sections stay parallel to the main base
  • New folded ends go give a greater sense of direction
  • More apparent curves
Yupo paper

I found myself making a lot of last-minute decisions even though I’ve thought about certain elements for the past couple of weeks already. The two main things I had last minute thoughts on was the temperature of the light and the paper. Claire let me use her cool light that made the whole fixture a lot brighter but at the same time, harsher. With the paper, I was considering to switch to Yupo paper as well. I was really having a tough time to decide but I realized that I’ve chosen the warm light and Stone Henge paper with deliberate thought due to their organic qualities.

More directional, same organic design:

I was really worried that making slight changes to the form will hurt the fundamental form of my light. In reality, it did not! I believe this was only achievable through many scale models to test out proportions.

So, I guess my time as a lighting engine designer is over…

I greatly enjoyed the iterative process I had within this project. From my previous projects, I did go through refinement stages but not as much as this time. The light went through many changes from the sloping of the ends to the direction of the light but still maintaining the basic foundations from the third prototype. Here are some takeaways:

  • Respect the medium for what it is. Don’t try to make it into something that it isn’t.
  • Form and context need to go hand in hand. Towards the end of this project, the form became more prominent than the context. Fortunately, I was able to correct myself into reestablishing greater values of my context into the light on my final model.
  • Knowing that iterations may look similar. I had difficulty with asking people what they saw of my new prototype when people didn’t realize it was a different model. I learned that I had to review the light myself to see if the small adjustments helped or not.

    Yoshi Torralva

    Written by

    Student @ Carnegie Mellon University School of Design

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