Hi guys, I’m starting a new personal project and I’d like to share my development on it and hopefully get some feedback as I go along. I’ve been working on this for the past 2 months at a very slow pace but thinking a lot of the details through during that time. In this first post I’ll be dumping my thoughts and work so far and flesh it out properly later.
First note of caution, I’m a recent mechanical engineering graduate and I’m currently trying to learn as much as possible about industrial design (sketching being the focus right now).
This project started from a problem I encountered. Over the summer, I was doing consultancy work and I was working in a windowless basement. After a few weeks, my colleagues and I came to the realization that we would start feeling groggy in the afternoon and felt a bit disoriented when finishing our work day and going outside on a hot bright shinny day. I also found that a lot of the lighting was coming from point source which would cast harsh shadows making tasks like drawing and soldering harder.
There have been a few studies that would seem to indicate that light might play a significant role in various systems. Some suggesting that blue light in the evening might hamper melatonine production as well.
This prompted me to start thinking of ways to ameliorate interior lighting.
This lead me to some of the reasons why windows are great:
- Light intensity and colour change through the day.
These changes are affected by which way the windows is pointing. (Sun rises East)
The direction in which the light comes out of the window is affected by the time of day.
Windows are large and typically diffuse the light over a large surface.
From this, my initial thought is that I would need to create a lamp that changes colour and intensity with respect to the time of day. Then this lamp would need to be large in order to provide a nice soft diffuse light. For this reason, LEDs seem like the ideal light source.
As for the form, I had three main ideas:
Something resembling a paper lantern. It’s a known form and would probably have less resistance when coming to market. They are also quite cheap to manufacture. The main problem with these is they need to be suspended and they also have a very specific aesthetic which doesn’t work in all rooms. I also though of a foot lamp with a large shade might work. However, I want my project to look into primary sources of lighting more than accent lights.
A projector like device which would point on a wall to bounce light off of it. The main advantage of this is that it’s a small unit. Other than that, it would be hard to have it work in every room. It would be unsightly if fixed to a ceiling and would be hard to hide there. It might be kind of playful if sitting on a table or shelf but it would be hard to have the light be unobstructed by the time it hits the wall. Another problem with this is that it would be a very bright spot if you happened to look directly towards it.
The solution I settled on is a panel. It would be roughly the size of a windows. Not only would it provide light similar to a window, it would have the vague form of one. I think this familiar form would suit more spaces than the other solutions (it could also be mounted on ceilings). Also since the light would come from walls, it would help with a problem I frequently encounter when sitting at a desk, I cast a big shadow right over my work.
So far, I’ve started building my light panel. I’ve soldered and attached LED strips to board. Half my lights are daylight balanced (as blue as I need to go) and the other half is tungsten balanced for a more orangy colour. I’ve hooked up a simple circuit to drive my LEDs from an Arduino. Right now, I can fade between the two LED colours as shown in the link below. The next big step is to figure out what colour and intensity the Sun is throughout a cloudless day and interface that with code I found to determine the position of the Sun based on time and date.
I know I’ve been light on process in this post but I really just wanted to get the ball rolling. Hopefully, my next update will be on background and process hopefully covering intent, possible solutions, inspiration and ideation for the panel - all done in a visual manner.