Illumination Aesthetics: Light as a Creative Material within Computational Design

CHI, pp. 6111-6122, 2017.

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custom luminaireluminairehybrid practiceTotal Internal Reflectionphysical materialMore(19+)
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We fabricated 11 custom luminaires designed by our participants found that our tool altered existing perceptions of the role and function of the Light Emitting Diodes in interactive objects and displays

Abstract:

Recent digital fabrication tools have enabled new form-giving using a wide range of physical materials. However, light as a first class creative material has been largely ignored within the design of our electronic objects. Our work expands the illumination design space by treating light as a physical material. We introduce a digital desi...More

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Introduction
  • Expressive medium that has enabled a tremendous amount of creativity and innovation in engineering, art, and design
  • This design space is quickly evolving with the introduction of smart Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) (e.g. NeoPixels, dotStars) and electroluminescent materials (e.g. EL wire, OLED).
  • These components are becoming easier to program, attach, and control, supporting a new ecology of devices appearing in increasingly diverse contexts and uses.
  • The physical properties of the LED and light get omitted from the design conversation which almost completely ignores the rich, expressive value that light can play when treated as a material
Highlights
  • Light is a rich, expressive medium that has enabled a tremendous amount of creativity and innovation in engineering, art, and design
  • The physical properties of the Light Emitting Diodes and light get omitted from the design conversation which almost completely ignores the rich, expressive value that light can play when treated as a material
  • DESIGN TOOL + FINAL LUMINAIRE All participants successfully completed their designs; some designs are represented in Figure 9
  • Prior to being introduced to our tool, users described their projects involving Light Emitting Diodes in simple, binary terms. Their Light Emitting Diodes were used for behaviors like flashing and fading
  • We demonstrated that our computational design pipeline can support a wide range of geometric configurations
  • We fabricated 11 custom luminaires designed by our participants found that our tool altered existing perceptions of the role and function of the Light Emitting Diodes in interactive objects and displays
Methods
  • The authors conducted the study with eleven participants who had previously used LEDs and had experience with vector graphic design.
  • Participants were recruited from university mailing lists in Art, Architecture, and Design.
  • The average age of participants was 22 ± 3 (7 female).
  • Participants were selected based on self-reported expertise with vector graphic design and previous exposure working with LEDs and electronic device design.
  • Most users reported limited experience with 3D printing or digital fabrication tools
Results
  • The authors first report survey responses, present qualitative results from participant interactions with the luminaire design tool during the workshop, and discuss interview responses once participants received their fabricated luminaires.
  • The authors synthesize these findings into common themes and insights for future physical design tools.
Conclusion
  • Explores, and expands the role of light in design, the authors see these insights and principles guiding the design of future tools for physical making.

    LED as Hybrid Practice Viewing and working with light as material presents a possible hybrid practice, or the conversation that arises from working with both digital and physical processes.
  • The sun-moon artifact in Figure 1b demonstrates one such break in the digital aesthetic – the hard edge characteristic of graphic display; by allowing an analog mixture of light sources in the sun flames, a richer more organic aesthetic can arise
  • The authors envision this physical approach used in concert with digital exploration of smart materials.In Illumination Aesthetics, the authors expanded a user’s ability to physically manipulate and shape light through computational design and fabrication of secondary optics.
  • The authors contribute design principles for supporting the expanding ecology of illumination design in order to fully leverage light as an expressive medium
Summary
  • Introduction:

    Expressive medium that has enabled a tremendous amount of creativity and innovation in engineering, art, and design
  • This design space is quickly evolving with the introduction of smart Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) (e.g. NeoPixels, dotStars) and electroluminescent materials (e.g. EL wire, OLED).
  • These components are becoming easier to program, attach, and control, supporting a new ecology of devices appearing in increasingly diverse contexts and uses.
  • The physical properties of the LED and light get omitted from the design conversation which almost completely ignores the rich, expressive value that light can play when treated as a material
  • Objectives:

    This work aims to provide an accessible, generalizable fabrication technique for creating secondary optics to empower users to control and manipulate light and expand the electronic aesthetic.
  • Methods:

    The authors conducted the study with eleven participants who had previously used LEDs and had experience with vector graphic design.
  • Participants were recruited from university mailing lists in Art, Architecture, and Design.
  • The average age of participants was 22 ± 3 (7 female).
  • Participants were selected based on self-reported expertise with vector graphic design and previous exposure working with LEDs and electronic device design.
  • Most users reported limited experience with 3D printing or digital fabrication tools
  • Results:

    The authors first report survey responses, present qualitative results from participant interactions with the luminaire design tool during the workshop, and discuss interview responses once participants received their fabricated luminaires.
  • The authors synthesize these findings into common themes and insights for future physical design tools.
  • Conclusion:

    Explores, and expands the role of light in design, the authors see these insights and principles guiding the design of future tools for physical making.

    LED as Hybrid Practice Viewing and working with light as material presents a possible hybrid practice, or the conversation that arises from working with both digital and physical processes.
  • The sun-moon artifact in Figure 1b demonstrates one such break in the digital aesthetic – the hard edge characteristic of graphic display; by allowing an analog mixture of light sources in the sun flames, a richer more organic aesthetic can arise
  • The authors envision this physical approach used in concert with digital exploration of smart materials.In Illumination Aesthetics, the authors expanded a user’s ability to physically manipulate and shape light through computational design and fabrication of secondary optics.
  • The authors contribute design principles for supporting the expanding ecology of illumination design in order to fully leverage light as an expressive medium
Tables
  • Table1: Qualitative Ranking of Diffusement by Participants
  • Table2: Qualitative Assessment Luminaire Design Tool and Fabricated Luminaire Objects. Responses are semantically anchored on a 5-point Likert scale, positive responses = 5
Download tables as Excel
Related work
  • Diverse communities have explored the potential of light and optics for creating interactive, aesthetically pleasing, and sensing artifacts. Below, we describe work that explores light as a physical material and medium.

    Light as Medium There exists a large body of work within the arts and design community that utilized light as an artistic medium, exploring material-specific optic properties to create engaging, critical work. Utilizing projected light, James Turrell influences a viewer’s depth perception by simulating 3D forms on 2D spaces (Shallow Space Constructions) [27]. In Exploded Views, Jim Campbell creates three-dimensional animated shadows by controlling the intensity of several light sources suspended in a dense irregular grid [3]. Utilizing the subtle reflective properties of wood, Daniel Rozin’s Wooden Mirror actuated a grid of small wooden “pixels” to different orientations to create changes in value and form images [25]. Eliasson’s The Weather Project made use of light’s refractive qualities, adding a fine mist to materialize moving weather formations indoors [6]. Notably, these works demonstrate a material and space-driven exploration of light.
Funding
  • This research was supported by funding from Adobe and Nokia
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