Light Engines

Product Design - CMU Design Fall 2018

Collaborators: Individual
Duration: 2 Weeks
Skills: User research, sketching, rapid prototyping

01  Overview

As visually-oriented beings, we use light to understand the built world around us. Artificial light is the norm for much our world, easing our use of the night, illuminating spaces where natural light can never reach. Our lighting mediates our experiences in time and space, thus it places a major role in our lives. Through the use of paper, we studied the nature of light and how different environments call for different modes of utilization.

02  Context

I had to design a lamp that comforted an individual while sleeping. To begin, I asked families and friends what they associated with the idea of sleep. Some words they came up with were: warm, hearth, soft, cozy, and habitual. From these responses, I realized that sleep is a universally enjoyed experience shared among humans and animals alike. It was an intentionally designed part of all life on Earth.

From these (wild) thoughts and my own personal observation of conventional sleep habits, I decided that my final solution should therefore emit a sense of warmth and, form-wise, be either organic + flowing OR minimalistic + simple.

03  Existing Forms @ Carnegie Mellon

I walked around Carnegie’s campus, observing the campus architecture and how the buildings utilized illumination. Below are forms that I found particularly interesting/unique.

04 Existing forms @ Ikea

A few days later, I brought our curiosities to Ikea. With the intent to design for sleep, I figured that a dimmer bulb would serve my purpose well. While we were there, we explored the store’s lamp models and observed their unique forms. I organized all the forms I saw into categories.

05 Prototyping Revision

Throughout the next week, I began playing with paper and testing its limitations + how interacts with light. Below is an exploration of my process.​​​​​​​

06  Conclusion and Takeaways

Throughout the 5 iterations, there were occasions where the affordances of the paper limited my ability to masterfully build envisioned ideas. These roadblocks forced me to further experiment paper's capabilities when creased, twisted, cut, etc.

My final form derived from several sources of inspiration. The first would be the Himalayan Salt Lamp and its claims of aiding the resting process. From a visual take, the lamp emits an extremely warm glow, an effect that I strived to achieve. Second, I realized that light emits beautifully through repetitive patterns. This realization pushed me to design very organically and take advantage of how paper overlaps and curves. I wanted something elegant in shape, but strong in form. Below are closer looks at the final model: