Tag Archive: lighting technology and controls

  1. Thursday Salute to Originals: When Crinkles Spur Creation

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    In architecture, crumpled pieces of paper have strong connotations that bring divisive opinions on Frank Gehry’s process of designing sculptural buildings. Critics take offense to the hands-off approach that places greater importance on form rather than function. Proponents of this type of process tout it as quintessentially postmodern and reflective of current technology. Whatever your stance on Gehry’s process, it’s probably a strong one. So whenever we see paper-crumpling used as a design inspiration, it piques our interest. And this time it comes in the form of a topic close to our heart… lighting design.


    The ethereal Proplamp is shaped like a crumpled piece of paper and is made from biodegradable nonwoven material. Users can change its shape, much like pruning a bouquet of flowers or tailoring an outfit.  The interaction is organic and completely dependent on the user’s intervention; creation is made accessible to the masses rather than the lone mastermind behind the design.

    [proplamp by margje teeuwen & erwin zwiers from Product Margje on Vimeo]

    Proplamp was developed in collaboration between Amsterdam-based designers Margje Teeuwen and Erwin Zwiers. Margje studied architecture but broke out of the mold by shifting her focus to emotional paintings of free flowing shapes. Erwin devoted his studies to furniture and product design, bringing a strong interest in materials. Proplamp was born as their paths crossed, described as a joining of “the feminine emotional research about paper shape and the masculine attitude of experimentation with new materials” (as quoted by LeFilRouge).



    Unlike a Gehry building which most experience from photographs alone, the lamp is at a scale accessible for the general public to add to their homes and work environments. Our biggest conundrum is finding a place to hang this lamp in our office that allows us to reach it for frequent editing – which, knowing the vast personalities and design philosophies of this team, will be essential as casual-turned-intense-debates about its shape are sure to ensue!  So for spurring conversation and creative intervention (and for highlighting our newfound need for a custom engineered conference table to hold the weight of our entire team as we debate over the lamp’s shape!), we salute the creators of Proplamp. Happy crumpling everyone!

    Image credits: Sam in Stul via LeFilRouge

  2. Thursday Salute to Originals: Time Slice Photos

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    Creating distinct renditions of our built environment both at specific moments and over periods of time, photography and timelapse video have a special place in the showcasing of architecture. Typically regarded as separate entities, still imagery and motion pictures document the world in completely different formats, each interpreting the subject and its facets in a unique manner.

    What happens when the defining elements of these two media – capturing a single, still moment vs. capturing a series of moments in motion – are combined? A visual hybrid is born, redefining our perception of architecture and the progression of time.


    Photos of building facades at sunset may seem like a dime a dozen, but the work of photographer Richard Silver is different. Silver’s “Time Slice Global” series depicts changing daylight at world famous landmarks, composed of slices taken at different points in the day and stitched together into a single image. Not only do the images show the shifting day to night patterns of the sky, but also how the architecture fluctuates over time; crowds gather or dissipate and internal lighting becomes more or less apparent depending on the position of the sun.





    In essence, Silver’s images present the experience of viewing both a still image and a timelapse video at once, a phenomenon he calls “altered visual context”. We salute Richard Silver for merging those two media into a new expression that can bend time and ultimately create a new lens through which to view our built environment.

    (And speaking of capturing moving moments…if you’re in the mood for time lapse in the traditional sense, try checking out the videos of our latest installs.)

    Image credits: Richard Silver

  3. Thursday Salute to Originals: Water Projections

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    As buildings envelopes are intended to be impermeable objects withstanding natural forces, our environment is typically constructed to tightly defend against weather. We seal against moisture in every means possible – from flashing to pitched roofs to storm drains. When water is embraced as a medium for architecture, rather than a force to be withstood, it can entirely shift the meaning of space.

    In the Minamo installation, the team at Torafu Architects creates an intimate interior space to “let the water in”. Reflected liquid patterns grace the curved walls, shifting subtly like the motion of the sea. Color is introduced at times, opening up the possibility of the water to carry a sense of materiality.

    There is little written about the execution of Minamo project, but that only enhances the mystery. The images convey of a sensation of being wrapped in light or hovering underneath the surface of water, forming compositions reminiscent of surrealist art.

    This Thursday, we salute this team of architects for boldly flipping convention to stretch the limits of how water and space can interact. Next time it’s raining or snowing, think about how you can embrace that force as opposed to quickly running for shelter!

    Video credit: Torafu Architects via YouTube

    Image credits: Torafu Architects

  4. Thursday Salute to Originals: Simulated Lightning (Harnessing Mother Nature’s Fireworks)

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    As we’ve been scouring our favorite design blogs and websites lately, we’ve begun to notice an emerging trend making its way into art and installations. Not a specific material or design motif, but rather a more intangible and seemingly unharnessable energy. A natural phenomenon in itself, it seems to have not only caught the eye of the design world, but is now being replicated and emulated in various forms inspired by its inherent striking beauty – both literally and figuratively. And that phenomenon/trend is (drum roll please)… lightning.

    Simulated Electrical Storm at “Giant Serpentine Pavilion”

    One of our favorite examples of lightning-inspired art is the Giant Serpentine Pavilion produced through a collaboration of architect Sou Fujimoto and United Visual Artists. Assembled from hundreds of interlocking steel poles and latticed metal, the structure covers 3800 sq. ft. in an intricately dense, yet openly geometric structure. But while the form and patterns created by the structure are interesting enough in and of itself, the pavilion really comes alive when the lights go down, allowing the thousands of embedded LEDs to pulsate and scatter like bolts of lightning streaking through the night sky. The intermittent and randomized flashing makes this structure seem as if it encapsulates an electrical storm itself, even though the effect is completely simulated.

    Sou Fujimoto Serpentine Pavilion Intervention from United Visual Artists on Vimeo.

    Simulated Lightning at “Incandescent Cloud” Installation

    Another one of our favorites is the incandescent CLOUD by Canadian artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett. Using thousands of light bulbs – over 6,000 in fact – activated and deactivated by traditional pull strings tugged by visitors within the exhibit, a randomized flashing effect is created. Not only is this installation interactive, allowing patrons to harness the power of the “lightning” by turning off and on various light bulbs at random intervals, but it allows what would normally be a static installation to breathe new life with every passing patron and crowd. There is no pre-programmed timing or sequence of flashes; the installation ebbs and flows with the visitors; the flashes of illumination are organic, much like natural lightning.

    CLOUD: An Interactive Sculpture Made from 6,000 Light Bulbs from Caitlind r.c. Brown on Vimeo.

    For us, in both of these projects, the most intriguing element is just how authentic this simulated lightning appears. Different structures, different light sources, different forms of control and modes of operation in each, yet both applications elicit and provoke a similar appearance and experience, making you feels as if you are actually watching Mother Nature put on her famous fireworks show.

  5. Thursday Salute to Originals: A Touchscreen Museum Visit

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    The Cleveland Museum of Art has a new interactive gallery that combines art and technology to encourage visitors to explore the museum’s permanent collection. This new feature in Cleveland is a source of great excitement here at GPI Design, not only for its use of LED technology, but for its forward-thinking approach to redefining the museum experience.

    This innovative gallery space features the “Collection Wall”, the largest multi-touch micro-tile screen in the United States, which presents images of over 3,500 items from the museum’s collection. This 5×40-foot interactive wall features a 23-million pixel display that changes every 40 seconds, grouping works by theme and type (such as time period, materials and techniques) as well as curated views of the collection.

    The technology facilitates discovery and dialogue with other visitors and can serve as an orientation experience, allowing visitors to download existing tours or create their own. Multiple users can interact with the wall, simultaneously opening as many as twenty separate interfaces, making sure everyone can explore together.

    As visitors depart from the Collection Wall to walk through the museum, a specially designed iPad app called Artlens serves as an interactive map.  Intended destinations can be chosen at the main Collection Wall and the iPad will guide you to that specific work within the museum.  As you approach each work, indoor geo-triangulation software opens new content within the app, empowering each visitor to connect the collection in a unique way, and creating a more powerful, personal experience.

    Every 10 minutes, an application content management system updates the “Collection Wall” with high-resolution artwork images, metadata, and the frequency with which each artwork has been “favorited” on the wall and from within the ArtLens iPad app. These activity metrics enable museum staff to understand what artworks visitors are engaging with, creating a feedback loop within the museum.

    As technology and social media become the main tools for sharing content and expressing individuality, we salute the Cleveland Museum of Art for grasping those trends and transforming not only a feature wall, but the entire museum experience.

  6. Thursday Salute to Originals: Modern Design of Mayan History

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    To present Mayan civilization in a dynamic audio and visual medium, an interactive media installation at the recently constructed Gran Museo del Mundo Maya conveys cultural developments over time. The goal of the exhibit was to represent the Mayan diaspora not as archaeological vestiges, but as a living culture that exists today. Given this focus, video painting and multimedia technology have been blended to evoke Mayan culture in an animated narrative that spans from the birth of our planet, through the history of mankind, to the emergence of contemporary societies today.

    Backlit Facade Illumination at Gran Museo del Mundo Maya

    The Gran Museo del Mundo Maya building itself, designed by Mexican based firm Grupo Arquidecture (formerly 4A Arquitectos), was designed around Mayan beliefs as opposed to contemporary aesthetic principles. The program was based on the ‘Ceiba’ plant, a sacred tree in Mayan culture. The structure prominently features an oval mass hoisted high above the ground wrapped in green-tinted facade elements that represent the foliage spreading out, protecting and shading the functions underneath.

    Multimedia Lighting Design Facade Treatment

    The exterior of the museum showcases a presentation of images the in the form of an animated fresco on the exterior of the museum. This interactive piece, created in collaboration between video painter Xavier de Richemont and multimedia lighting design firm XYZ Technologie Culturelle, is accompanied by an audio track of ancient and modern sounds. “XYZ’s multimedia installation offers visitors a chance to literally immerse themselves in this symbolic narrative. Sixteen high-definition projectors animate the upper part of the museum façade with a virtual strip that unfurls 34 giant tableaus composed of drawings, photographs, and graphic compositions by de Richemont. A long-range sound system, integrated into the building’s architecture, broadcasts the show’s music throughout the site,” according to Contemporist.

    Gran Museo del Mundo Maya Exterior Facade Design

    Video Animated Lighting Design Illuminated Facade Technology

    As designers strive to connect buildings to unique contexts and cultures, this project inspires the use of emerging technologies to express those histories. We salute this intersection between modern lighting design, art, and architecture to achieve a rich narrative expression!

    Image credits: Contemporist

  7. Thursday Salute to Originals: Musical Swings

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    The GPI Design team is always interested in creative uses of LED panels, especially when paired with innovative lighting controls. This installation is no exception. The lighting accents in this art installation show that lighting, however understated, can change the experience of installations and artwork throughout the day, creating a welcoming glow in the evening and invigorating a streetscape.

    Swinging Musical Art Installation

    Musical Swings Streetscape Interventino Art Montreal

    Daily Tous Les Jours, a design collaborative in Montreal, Canada, produced ’21 balancires’ for the 2013 biennale international design fair in Sainte-Etienne. This public installation was available for use in the Quartier Des Spectacles, a high-traffic area in Montreal. Twenty-one swings trigger individual notes while in use and the installation is meant to “explore the notion of collaboration and the positive outcomes which can be a result of working together”, according to the designers.

    Musical Design Experience Swing Lights

    As users begin to swing in tandem, melodies occur according to which swings are in use and the rate at which users swing. As dusk approaches, the swings illuminate to heighten the sensory experience of its users. The ‘EmpathiCITY, making our city together’ exhibition “investigates the biennale’s theme of empathy… articulated through a series of urban interventions which turn the streets into a domain for democratic expression”, remarked an official.

    “The installation offers a fresh look a the idea of cooperation – the notion that we can achieve more together than alone.” — Tous Les Jours and Luc-Alain Giraldeau, a professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal’s Science Faculty.

    Musical Swinging Playful Lighting Art Installation

    The motivation behind this wonderful installation is both emotional and inspiring. We would love to see a permanent installation like this somewhere in our area so that we could take “musical breaks”!

    Image credits: Design Boom

  8. Thursday Salute to Originals: Cosmos

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    Rarely in today’s times do people get a chance to see the stars. Whether it be from city light pollution or simply a lack of time, it’s not often that we gaze into the night sky and peer into the grand play that is the universe. The “Cosmos” lighting simulation by Leo Villareal may not encapsulate the entire universe but it does give us the opportunity to see what’s out there.

    Cosmos Lighting Installation by Leo Villareal

    The interactive lighting installation, located at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, was constructed to pay homage to the university’s late astronomy professor Carl Sagan. Composed of over 12,000 LED’s wired in a grid, Villareal programmed the exhibit to display the heaven’s illumination patterns. The software, created by Villareal himself, generates various shapes and forms to create a very unique light show. “It is especially exciting to view the installation at nighttime, when the patterns of light make the ceiling disappear and turn it into a void—light trumping matter,” said Andrea Inselmann, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Johnson Museum.

    LED Lighting Ceiling Stars

    A zero gravity bench, 25 feet long, was designed by the artist for viewers to fully immerse themselves in the experience and to facilitate a more communal involvement with the installation. “The challenge for me is to find a way to do it that respects what’s here but that adds another layer that can really invigorate the building and make people look at it in a new way.” Said Villareal. The installation measures in at 45’ x 68’ and is mounted on a high ceiling of the Sherry and Joel Mallin Sculpture Court to provide pedestrians clear visibility to observe from below.

    LED Lighting Installation Art

    The initial development of the exhibition began almost three years ago in November of 2010 when Villareal, along with project architect Walter Smith, AIA LEED AP, and donors Lisa and Richard Baker, collaborated with the Johnson Museum to find a suitable location for the installation. “It’s almost like a musical instrument that you have to tune and get just right,” said the artist. “It’s a process of discovery, because I don’t know in advance what it’s going to be.”  In this case, does context create originality?

  9. Thursday Salute to Originals: The Bay Lights

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    The lengthy western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge has been transformed into a massive, two-year-long public art project called The Bay Lights. Every night for the next two years, the northern side of the bridge section will display an array of 25,000 LEDs making this the largest light show on the Earth. It’s an assortment of seemingly animated patterns, strung vertically on the bridge’s twisted steel cables.

    The Bay Lights LED Lighting Control Installation

    The LEDs are controlled via the internet and jointly connected to a network using ethernet, copper wire and fiber optic cables. The designer, Leo Villareal, uses his own custom-built software to control the light show each night without the need for human interference.

    The bridge opened on Tuesday, March 5th to public fanfare, much like an unveiling of a giant art canvas.  San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, when speaking a press conference for the project’s launch event, expressed his satisfaction with The Bay Lights and the potential tourism that it can attract. “I actually feel that when we unveil this tonight, the feeling that I’m going to be having is that we just won another World Series, because it’s going to be that kind of excitement,” he said. “You can imagine anything you want in these lights. Give yourself [over to this] and use your own imagination to work with these 25,000 lights—for me, it’s the mustache you’ll see in these lights.”

    Although the project is only slated for a two year lifespan, the designer Villareal hopes to extend the life of The Bay Lights far beyond that. Villareal has worked on similar projects involving LEDs and computer algorithms in the past. He has created installations at the Bleecker Street Station in New York along with other projects in California and Washington. Here’s a salute to Villareal’s vision which merges technology and art, all while navigating the bureaucratic red tape!

    Image credits: My Modern Met, CNet

  10. Thursday Salute to Originals: Roomba Light Paintings

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    “As Seen on TV” Meets Artistic Lighting Design

    The Roomba, an automatic vacuum cleaner product which typically graces the shelves of big-box stores, has taken on a new meaning by artfully merging with lighting technology.

    A group of students in Germany’s Braunschweig University of Technology found a creative use for the popular robotic cleaning device.  They created an image series of time lapse photos of the Roomba vacuum moving around with a colored LED light attached. While this sounds simple enough and reflects much of the light painting methodology, these students took it one step further by placing obstacles in the room, thereby designating space that the Roomba cannot pass into and which remain dark. They also used accelerometer-driven LEDs so that the color light emitted was dependent upon the vacuum’s movement.

    Roomba Vacuum LED Light ArtLight Paintings Roomba Art

    The result is a series of dynamic, emotive images which capture a calculated celebration of pattern and light.  We salute the Braunschweig students for their unique idea and equally thoughtful execution.  After these images, we can never look at a vacuum cleaner without imagining its potential to pair with lighting and set leash to an unsuspecting living room.

    Image credits: Design Boom