Sunday, July 28, 2013

INDN 212: Illumination Re-Construction

One of the most annoying things about my light, as I discovered, was that there was very little of it that I could actually dissemble. This is very frustrating, as there's basically no parts of the original lamp that I want to reuse in the new and improved light.

The redesigning that I'm doing is one of heavy form alteration, but at the same time, I'm also changing the way the light works. What I really want to do is manipulate the way that the light is used. I want it to take up no space on the desk, and I also want it to illuminate a specific space really well. The workspace that it will illuminate won't change, so I don't want to make a lamp that has the ability to move.

In stead of making a simple work light, I want to create something that serves a dual purpose. The light will provide adequate lighting for a specific space, but will also provide a physical and metaphorical division of the space between the work space and the "play" space. The physical division of the space will come from the light, and how it is split between the two sections, while the metaphorical division of the space will stem from a manipulation of the form of the light across the spaces.

This was one of the first ideas for the light that I came up with. One of the constraints that I've set myself is that I want the light to take on a futuristic, considered form. Mostly I'm already set on the simple design of the workspace half of the light. The one part that is still up for debate is the ambient part of the form, as this, being the more aesthetic part, is far more difficult to get right. I decided I really want it to feel like a feature, but not feel too far gone from the other half of the form.

This first one draws from the orange light I showed previously, and keeps a similar form set to the rest of the light, ensuring that the aesthetic doesn't get lost.

After that form, I experimented with three slightly different forms. The top-most design explores a very simple, but clean aesthetic, using a variety of frosted materials to create a soft glow in the lighter portions of the design. This form would not cast much light in the ambient half, but would rather be an accent light to make the space much more interesting.

The second form flips this around and does a lot of illumination, with the direction of the illumination a lot more precise, providing a lot of light in directions away from the workspace, in keeping with the way I want the spaces to feel separate yet connected. The angular sections could provide a variety of interesting light plays, and depending on how I did the light sources on the inside, I could get a variety of different effects.

The final one was a merging of the two, and worked with both illumination as well as soft glow. The outer sections would have frosted material on the front but then be open at the ends to allow for light to escape and illuminate along the wall in an interesting fanned out pattern. The central glow point then leads the eyes back down and along the light to the workspace, as if to say to the user, "go on, back to work now."

After coming up with independent ideas, I then decided to draw my inspiration back a notch, to the natural forms I liked and how I could bring those into my design. One of the elements I liked is the armoured exterior of the armadillo, and how the tough skin has all these overlaps, creating a very interesting pattern on the creature.

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The armadillo's formed skin provided excellent inspiration for the next idea I had. This idea really made a heavy feature of the ambient section of the light, and provides a large interest factor. Talking to my tutor, one of the things that stood out as being important for a large light is that if it were going to be such a feature, it would need to be interesting enough that people would look at it and consider talking about.

This light design to me feels slightly insect-like as well, almost akin to the carapace of a wasp or bee. The light provided from the ambient side could be a major feature in the way that it fell on the surroundings. The colour would be very important. Potentially using warm colours could make the space feel warmer, or possibly it could make the space feel hive-like. One of the problems I saw in this form was that it was getting distracted from my original plan of a futuristic form. So, I needed to think of a way of keeping the idea, but changing the form to suit my ideals a little better.

After deciding that I really wanted to keep the idea of the carapace form for the ambient end of the light, I changed the form to a less organic, more mathematical and tessellated form, which was more in keeping with the futuristic form I wanted to achieve. One of my main concerns with this form however, is that I'm making things way too complicated for myself, which would definitely be my downfall.

I think, potentially a better way to compromise between the cool and the doable would be to take a step forward, incorporate elements of this design, but then manipulate it so that I can still have an interesting light play and actually be able to make it.

So, I identified one of the issued that meant the light shape wasn't completely gelling with me, so I decided to fall back on a bit of old knowledge. Drawing from a few architectural forms (which seems logical now in retrospect), I created this form, which I really like. The swing down of the form will allow the light from the lamp to project upwards and out, creating a slightly more cohesive light wash, as well as providing a small spot illumination down, as well as a glow section. The variance in angles used to achieve the form is what I think makes it nice to look at. It has a shape that I find quite encouraging in terms of how to put it to best use. If I make it deep enough, it could also serve as shelving for small things, similar to the light shelves I showed earlier.

The grey bits shown might even be better in black as well, to make the whole fit together better. I think the thing I like about this one is that the two halves meld together really well. The swing from the first to the second half seems logical, and makes for a nice progression. Both follow the same rules for the form, and both balance the other nicely.

Here's a little render showing what it might look like.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

INDN 212: Refined Inspiration

So, since I've now got a much better idea of what I want to actually do for this lighting project, I decided it was high time for a bit of re-inspiring. The way I want to make my light feel is critical to its success. I want my light to be a space divider, in essence. I want it to both physically and metaphorically divide the space between a work space and a social/play space. Physically, I want the effect of the lighting to be different in the two different spaces, and metaphorically, I want the form of the wall light to imply a different purpose of the two areas.

One area should be a work space, simple. The feel I want to achieve with the form is of something that suggests simplicity and cleanliness, as well as structure and logic. The forms that I'me drawing on for inspiration here are futuristic ones, which to me suggest a certain foresight as well as a consideration towards use of the space.

The other half of the light should juxtapose, but not in a completely contrasting way. Rather, it should be cut from the same stone, stemming from a similar set of ideals, but manipulating them to create a much better sense of freedom and fun. The ways in which this could be achieved are nigh endless, and as such, I need to be sure to keep the design considered. Without a unifying aesthetic, the light could just look like it was stuck together from two different halves.

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This light has significant suggestions of ambience, as well as providing an evening mood to it. The vibrant oranges hark back to seventies architectural illustrations, while the muted, soft lighting feels much more modern. The feature of this light that I find particularly compelling is the way the light from the foremost lights reflects off the shield of the back lights, illuminating them strongly and bringing out more vibrant colours. This aesthetic I think has a lot of potential, but tying this in with a more serious work light might be a bit of a stretch.

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These illuminated bookshelf-type lights from Houzz feel akin to dendrites in the body. Apparently you can put many together to make an interconnected web of lit bookshelves. This idea is actually really cool, and the aesthetic is really nice. The lights feel almost slightly organic, while also maintaining a grip onto what lights it and how it works. The idea I want to take from this is the usefulness of the light as itself. Perhaps shelving would be something I could work into my light. I think though that maybe I'm getting carried away a bit.

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This light has a wonderful aesthetic, with a simple, very polished aesthetic. So far I really haven't seen anything like what I'm trying to do, which is interesting. I thought space dividing lights would be an interesting field that many people would actually make use of, but maybe I guess not. One thing that's striking me as being a potentially very good aesthetic for the "play" side of the light is the reflecting the light off the wall aesthetic. This really allows the light to illuminate a large space with a very ambient light, but really is no good for a task light.

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This light, designed by a member of the "IKEA Hackers" community, is created from an MDF box with some LED strip lighting, as well as an aluminium profile, and the actual effect of it is astoundingly good. Simple, effective, and easy to make. Looking at this form gave me the idea that I could potentially use laser cutting to achieve the look I want. Laser cutting allows for a high degree of specificity, as well as making complex shapes very easy to do.

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This light provides good task lighting, but sadly isn't quite directed in the right direction to make it so. The simplicity of this lighting design makes it effective, but it feels like it's lacking a lot of character. I think the light that I want to design will make for a very interesting feature in a home, as well as being a very useful tool. 

Now, I really need to refine that design.

INDN 212: Lighting The Dark

So, as a way to figure out what I want to do for this project, I've enhanced the sketches that I did last time so that I can figure out exactly what I want to do for this project.

The desk lamp that I have is great, but like I said before, it has a variety of shortcomings. I want to mitigate these shortcomings by implementing various solutions into the re-vamped version. Since the lamp is close to my computer monitor, and I'm wanting to design the light around the workspace that my computer monitor dominates, one main option that I'm considering so that my light can save space is to actually attach the light to the base of the monitor itself, or alternatively, design it so that it fills up the space between the monitor and it's base.

Another option that I'm looking into for this is to build a light that could illuminate that same space from the side, but using minimal space as well. This design is shown in the main sketch, and could possibly involve a folding element, whereby the light could be folded away when not in use. Another option that could incorporate the folding element that I mentioned would be have the light built into the base of the monitor, but then it could have arms that fold out, illuminating the workspace from multiple angles, providing a wide, shadow-minimal workspace.

Another element I deem important for this is the aesthetic. One issue I have with my desk lamp is that it is reasonably functionally oriented in its aesthetic, and suffers a little bit when I compare it to other designed lamps with respect to beauty. It's got an aesthetic, but I just think it could be better. In some of my previous work, I found I really enjoyed employing a very futuristic aesthetic.

This brought up the idea of possibly employing parts of it to be the functional elements, and other parts of it to be the aesthetic mood-lighting type of parts. This could form a successful aesthetic that might be a bit gimmicky if I don't do it right, but if I do, it could look super cool.

To achieve this, I need to look at some forms and colour palettes that might be conducive to my project. To achieve this, I really need to think of what makes futuristic designs tick. Simple colours, a low amount of different colours, as well as simple, considered textures, all of those make up a well executed futuristic design.

To start off my work with lamps, I acquired a low voltage power supply that should still be legal (Brief wise), as it lowers the voltage to acceptable levels. (3 - 12 volts) I'm looking forward to actually starting the physical part of this project. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

INDN 212: Steampunk Inspiration

I found these fantastic renders on-line, and I really liked the way that the creator made the lights feel special. They feel unique, antique, and there is a slight air of mystique as to what the devices might actually do. This is accomplished largely with a very considered material choice, as well as the actual form of some of the components.

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The lights really feel like something out of another era, and the materiality and the forms capture this concept perfectly. The pieces look like out insulators from old lamps, as well as pieces from old radio and sound systems. They almost don't look like lights, but rather things that have a unique aesthetic that have decided to glow.

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I still think the very nature of light is something quite magical. It's something we as humans have to developed to the point where we take it for granted, but I still feel like it's something special that we should still admire. I love the way fluorescent bulbs are just tubes that glow with minimal heat. It's something that you can hold in your hands and it can completely change the way you view the world around you.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

INDN 212: Re-Designing 101

So, one of my main problems at the moment is that I'm thinking too big. I'm thinking too much about what to make and not enough about actually re-designing the object I'm looking at. While I like the idea of designing something new, it's not what the brief is calling for, so I need to take a step back. I think the first step is to decide on what object to choose.

At present I'm looking at the torch and the desk lamp. The torch is a relatively unique project that takes an uncountably huge number of forms, all attempting to solve a very similar set of problems, some with more success than others. I hate terribly made crappy plastic torches. I like something that is well made, has some weight, and has a good light. Torches are quite unique from a psychological point of view, as they form the tool for cutting through the darkness in a place where electrical outputs don't exist and/or don't work. They have substituted a place originally held by fire, and as a result, have a certain resemblance as a symbol of "hope" and as a "light in the dark". In my eyes, torches should be comforting as well as useful. Fear or the dark is extremely common, and torches serve to cut through that darkness, but they do little to make that trip to the bathroom any easier despite lighting a very specific cone of your vision.

Perhaps the torch could also provide comfort to the user. It could provide warmth perhaps, or maybe it could have a light at the other end so that it illuminates the ground in a lantern fashion as well as providing forward illumination for the user.

As for the desk lamp, it exists as a utility, a light that serves a very specific, useful, function. It doesn't fill a very emotional function, unless the work is emotionally driven or fulfilling, in which case it serves to aid said work and drive the ability to work whenever a person wants. Re-designing the desk lamp is more about upgrading its function and making it better suited for the space than increasing its emotional contribution.

As I mentioned before, the interest in developing the desk lamp is very much to upgrade it's usability, as well as seeking to make it a better work tool.

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I did a bit of research into desk lamps and found this little beauty, and I really like it. I think this desk lamp has so much character! I could almost imagine it rolling around on it's base, looking at things and interacting with other robot-like creatures. I think it's very beautiful.

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Again, this is another very cute desk lamp. I think it almost has a children's toy feel to it, with it's use of colour and wood. It still feels very functional however, and hopefully those red points allow actual motion rather than just being purely static. Either way, it's very pretty. I really want to explore the possibility of mounting a lamp on the wall or ceiling, as that really explores the ideas that I came up with before.

INDN 212: A New Hope

So, with a new trimester beginning, It's time to start knuckling down and doing some damage once more. I'm doing three courses this trimester again, the three being:

INDN 212: Product Based Experiments
CCDN 231: Experimental Design Ideas
MDDN 242: Computer Graphics Production

All of the classes are follow-ons from previous classes, so I'm really looking forward as to what they have in store for me. The first class that I've received a project for is INDN 212, and it revolves around light. We have to take an existing product and modify it.

I've got a few ideas for this. One of the words that was tossed around was portable, and I think I potentially want to focus on both sides of that project. Possibly something that is both portable,  and yet still stable on it's own as well. I think for me to figure out exactly what I want I also need to establish an ideal use for my product. Potentially it could be something has two purposes that come with the portable and non portable aspect, or it could fulfil the same purpose in two different ways.

My first idea revolves around the humble hand torch. The hand torch has a successful place in our homes as an item that we only use when something goes wrong, as normally there's no reason to use it. Perhaps we're too familiar with our homes, that even in the darkest conditions, we still have little difficulty navigating our way? Or maybe it's designated in our minds as something that needs to be used in emergencies?

Another idea that I think could be an option is something along the lines of a desk lamp. The reason for looking at something like this is because I have an issue with my own desk lamp, as it takes up too much space on my own diminutive desk. I really like the idea of having something that hangs from my ceiling, something that I can re-direct and re-place at will. One of the ideas for this came from the extractor fans that we have in the high dust room of our wood workshop, as these are re-positionable and I find them a great hand.

So an idea that I had involving a desk lamp could be to remove the base completely, and re-position the "base" on the ceiling or wall, freeing up space on the desk, while still retaining the manoeuvrability of the desk lamp head, as well as the versatility that it offers. Another idea about it that I really liked was incorporating fibre optic cables, that would allow the light to "pour" down from the ceiling. If I had the time, the knowledges, the money, and the experience, what I'd really like to do would be to have this device hanging from the ceiling with a water-tap-style switch that would be a dimmer control, as that would really complete the lighting experience that I'd be trying to achieve with that. Combining a lighting experience with something that is very distinctly not a lighting element would be awesome. Definitely a potential idea. Might store that one for something later.

Another idea that I had involves 2-dimensional workspace lighting, as in only lighting a small, highly specific space. The problem that I'm trying to address here is as such: when I work at my computer, I often am working with something physical in front of the monitor at the same time. This can sometimes cause an issue, as I like to be able to see my monitor well without getting glare from my desk lamp. As such, I have to have my lights down low, and my desk lamp hovering over my hands to get the lighting that I desire. This obscures my view of what I'm doing sometimes. The idea that I have is a modification to my desk lamp so that it doesn't take up much space and can light up my workspace from low down. Perhaps something along that lines of this?

I really think that this idea has a lot of potential. The key aspect is controlling the flow of the light so that it doesn't head towards to the computer monitor, and directing it evenly across the work. One problem I could foresee would be an issue with shadows off to one side, however this could be mitigated with a large spread and diffuser over the lamp, or alternatively with a second lamp on the opposing side of the work.

MDDN 242: Creating Faces

So, the new project that I have to do for a totally different class this year, (MDDN 242, an actual Media paper!) involves designing a face that responds to a volume input and changes; or sings it, so to speak.

To start off the project, we first had to come up with a small legion of faces, and for that I drew a lot of influence from pop culture, as well as coming up with a lot of fresh material.

At first, I really wanted to make something quite complex, but eventually I decided I'd much rather do something simple with a good deal of abstraction. I started on the idea of a comical face, but this eventually led on to something a little more serious.

The first chap I went with as one of my final three was a very expressive emoticon-type of face, which would not enjoy the actual singing. I wanted it to really suffer when doing the singing, and express this in the way it was portrayed.

This face was definitely headed in the direction I wanted to go. Using minimal lines, and just some very basic forms, I could create an expression-full face. This one is a little bit more evil looking, and seems to be demonically enjoying the singing it's doing.

The final form my face took was in the form of a strange, rectilinear spiral form. I really liked this form that the face took, as it gives it both a minimalist and a busy aesthetic. Using only simple lines, I can actually get a fairly large amount of expression out of the face, and it should be perfect to sing the song that I have in mind.

The song that I have in mind is this, as it is a strong vocal rendition of the song, and being just the vocals, the face will react better and really look like it is singing the song. Plus, everyone knows the song so well that they don't need to hear the instruments to imagine them.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

MDDN 242: Inspirational Faces

To get this project sussed, I really needed to scout around for forms that could serve as faces, as well as faces that could show me how to make different forms and then use those different forms. To start off, I began with an array of comic faces that had been simplified to make best use of a multitude of basic shapes.
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Thereafter, I began to look at real human faces, as the expressions visible in them is nearly endless. People have the most awesome capabilities to morph their faces into strange forms, often resulting in hilarious results. My sister often tells me that I have a very malleable face, and I love making stupid and funny faces, so looking at the faces of others for this project is a good place to start.

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People have some beautifully expressive faces, I just need to figure out how to capture that in my coding.