LUNE

PROJECT

Paper Atelier: Lune was a group project of four people: three product designers, and one interior designer. We were fascinated by the relationship between paper and light and how a simple interaction can be used to elevate paper as a material, giving it an ephemeral and magical presence when illuminated. Lune is a paper luminaire that interacts with the the environment’s light levels.

PROCESS

The prototyping stages for this project were split into three categories: form development, technology development, and assembly. Form development included the experimentation of different types of paper – it was important that the paper’s properties worked in harmony with the digital interaction. I was in charge of the development and integration of technology. My responsibilities entailed the coding, electrical component soldering, and prototyping the luminaire’s functionality. The integration of the electrical components into the delicate paper form was the most challenging but rewarding phase.

FORM

TECHNOLOGY & INTEGRATION

My role in this group project was ‘the engineer’ – the development and integration of technology. I began by learning how to use data from a photoresistor to control a motor’s speed and a neopixel’s color hues. If the photoresistor detects an increase in light levels, the neopixels will change color and the motor’s speed will increase and inflate the paper structure accordingly (and vice versa). Although the coding bit was challenging, the physical wiring and component integration was more time-consuming.

Florence (left) sealing the paper structure, and myself (right) finalizing the code.

The working motor and neopixels were used to test how different types of paper and scales react to different color hues and inflation/deflation values. For example, Thai Silk paper failed to lift as it was too collapsible and thin (more air was escaping than entering the structure). The team was also unsatisfied with the Thai Silk paper’s translucency. The neopixel light wouldn’t diffuse, causing each individual neopixel to be noticable. Nevertheless, newsprint (besides being cheap and widely available) was unintentionally the core prototyping material of the project, and surprisingly provided the best visual and functional results.

On the left is my first motor prototype. The motor’s speed is controlled by a photoresistor which collects data from light levels in the room. When the photoresistor detects changes in light levels, the motor’s speed and paper’s inflation will fluctuate accordingly. Unfortunately, the Thai Silk paper’s properties expelled air too quickly, and failed to inflate fully. Nevertheless, the code worked as intended!

On the left is a developed prototype of the motor and neopixels interacting with a newsprint paper structure. Unlike Thai Silk paper, newsprint is denser which keeps air in, and malleable enough to allow movement without ripping. In addition, newsprint reduces power consumption (as opposed to Thai Silk) since the motor doesn’t need as much speed/air flow to inflate the structure. In addition, the light emitted by the neopixels interacts wonderfully with the newsprint as seen in the video.

Testing newsprint
Testing Thai Silk paper
Trying combinations of different types of paper & neopixel colors

Once the team had prototypes of the form (paper & wooden base) and technology (motor & neopixels), the next step was to begin integration and assembly. The main challenge was the integration and balance of the technology in the wooden base and the paper structure. The biggest concern was the balance of the paper structure in its maximum inflated stage, since the paper would tilt and fail to recover in a straight position. The rate of inflation and uneven weight distribution of the neopixels in the paper structure were the cause of the instability as seen in the images below.

Over-inflation caused imbalance
Neopixels caused imbalance and tilting
Complex integration of technology in base

Firstly, I faded the motor’s values to became more gradual as the structure fluctuates. Resultingly, the structure’s stability improved and unexpectedly made the interaction look smoother and more organic.

Secondly, I reduced the motor’s maximum speed value in the code to prevent over-inflation. The new speed value was determined through trial and error, since the level of inflation depends on the scale and shape of the paper structure.

Lastly but more importantly, symmetrical wire-retaining sheets as seen below keep each neopixel strip in position throughout the paper structure, from top to bottom. The sheets equally distribute the neopixels’ light and weight throughout the structure.

Four strips of neopixels to be placed inside the paper structure.
Wire-retaining sheets stabilize neopixels for equal lighting.
Wire-retaining sheets

PROPOSAL

Overall, implementing and hiding technological features into translucent and delicate paper pushed both the technical and aesthetic limits of design, and created a unique, dynamic and poetic luminaire. 

Florence Allen:

Form Development & Branding
Marianna Lordou:

Technology Development & Inegration
Josh Sneddon:

Base Design & Branding
Zil Shah:

Form Development, Photography & Film Editing

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