Paper and stitches at midterm

Two weeks after my last post it was time to show (some of) the world what I’ve been up to the last couple of months. Days of cutting, glueing and ripping books apart (some of them of aesthetic and/or literary value, I must admit), the day was finally there to pack everything up and move it all to uni. It was one of those days where there is a little too much to do for the amount of hours available, but I managed to arrange things so that everything would just fit. The dogwalker had picked up the dog and I was ready to go set up.

Just as I was about to leave the house, the dogwalker called. Was I going to be home in he next half hour? While I tried to answer negatively, she was already telling me about some accident the dog had had, that required vet assistance. I arranged for her to meet me at the vet’s. Unfortunately, they just had another dog in surgery. My dog was reasonably calm and I decided to leave her there for half an hour so I could set up my exhibition stuff, and then be right back to pick the dog up.

At the university, the exhibition came along nicely with the help of some black cloth from my teammates. I had planned to do more on presentation, like a sign with my name and a little explanation about the project, but all in all it looked okay.

On the right you can see two fabulous pop-up books that I bought for inspiration, and my own version on the left. The pop-up bit is made out of actual OLED shapes. In the front is an OLED attached to a bread board with a simple dimmer circuit.

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Cubist Art and Nonsense Footnotes

How do you like my new masterpiece? These are actually all the standard shapes the lumiblades come in.

How am I making a pop-up out of this lot? I better start the big bricolage!* I can see now why Jason Bruges only used the squares…


* Have you heard of the French word ‘bricolage’? It’s a fantastic word that describes everything from messing around with scrap material to DIY to producing art. It’s fiddling around, tinkering, plotting, trying out. Fabulous, no?Oh and it gets better: a person doing bricolage, is a ‘bricoleur’. Love it.

** On a complete off-note: another French word I love, or it’s actually more an expression, is ‘faire du leche-vitrine’. Somehow it sounds less exiting and much less delicious if you refer to the licking of shop-windows as ‘window shopping’…

*** Further off topic: Obviously, I have been thinking of Alice in wonderland waaay too much. And the book hasn’t even arrived yet!

Pop Up

Last week when I was discussing the project with my coach, I had a flash of inspiration. Where one of my first ideas to make an OLED book was perhaps too plain, my ideas involving jewellery and origami were very frilly and were not grounded in reality. The ideal situation would be something that is inspiring and beautiful, but also low-key and practical at the same time.

Enter the concept of Pop-Up Books. How could I have forgotten? Such an obvious solution to my qualms and hesitations. I remember having an Alice in Wonderland pop-up book when I was little, that was just magical. Sadly, I can not find it anywhere, or perhaps I have forgotten what it looked like. There is a popular version by Robert Sabuda, but however pretty, it is a little too pink for my taste. The Alice I remember was a bit dark, sometimes scary, with huge pop-ups that flew up when you turned the page. I especially liked the one where all the cards would fly across the space above the page, high up in different angles, some suspended from strings and all.

There is a vintage one just like this on its way to me from the UK, and I feel like Santa is coming!

Another fabulous pop-up book that I would like to get for inspiration is Trail: Paper Poetry by David Pelham; and I probably need Paper Mechanics to teach me how it’s done.

Interview with a user

This is an interview I did with a user from one of my proposed user groups a couple of weeks ago. This person is someone who regularly travels for work, and therefore uses all kinds of environments as his workspace, for instance airport lounges, cafés, restaurants, hotel rooms and shared workspaces in factories that he visits. I chose to conduct the interview in the restaurant space of Eindhoven Airport. Although this particular person does not look very enthusiastic, he gave some valuable feedback for my project.

One thing that stuck was that he was not impressed with my origami-flower paper model, saying that he would never take this out to work in a business environment. A more low-key design may be more attractive for this user group. Also he would like to have different colours of light available to adapt to the different locations he uses.

For the next interview, it would be better to ask for colours or elements of the surroundings we are in, instead of choosing from the colour book. For non-designers, the book can be intimidating and limiting. I also would like to have a better quality prototype available. The ones in this video are really low-res and distract more than inspire.

Picking minds

Over the next few days, I plan to engage a few people into doing an interview about personal space in multi-user environments. Do they experience these situations often, and do they think there is a problem with it? How do they behave in these situations? Do they create a personal ‘zone’ mentally, with posture, or stuff? Or do they keep their connection with their environment as open as possible, are they interacting with others?

After the initial questions, which should put the participants in the mindset of thinking about personal space, I will ask them to describe their ideal atmosphere around themselves in a multi-user space, using a simple moodboard of pictures and colours. This will give me an idea as to what people are looking for, and give me inspiration on what might or might not be desirable.

The last stage will be the participant interacting with a few simple paper prototypes, and telling me how they think the models work, if and how they would be helpful or not. I will be asking for their input and ideas.

I would like to interview people from different age groups, with different interests, backgrounds and occupations. Hopefully after the interviews I can decide on one or more aspects or user groups to focus on.

Pretty Frilly Things

Talking about jewellery in the last post made me do a little research on a side step: OLED jewellery. This could be really cool. The OLEDs are very energy efficient, and possibly a small battery can be worked into the jewellery without much hassle. How about some inspirational pictures:

And how would you like an OLED jewellery box, that lights up inside whenever you open the lid? Magical, no?

The thing with all this is, that it is terribly frilly and has no more right to exist than the next pretty object, mass produced for its fashion value and discarded when the next fad comes by. I need a good reason to want to design another thing, to put more stuff out there. While the jewellery idea is cute and has my beady eyes sparkling, it just doesn’t cut it for me, at least not for a Bachelor graduation project.

The search goes on.


When I look at my planning, it seems I’m doing fine. However, it feels like too little is happening! Next week it is officially a holiday, so I want to have some decisions made this week. How am I going to justify choosing the direction of personal light/ personal space? Is this the way to go? For now, I will treat this project as two halves: the one half of lighting as personal space, and the other half being about OLED and it’s possibilities. Hopefully at least one half will turn out right, and if the two halves meet somewhere again it would be a bonus.

Starting with half #1: what to do with OLED? It’s nice, crisp, glass surface is so appealing, it really is like jewellery. I am thinking a modern-day version of Tiffany’s, all sparkly and nature inspired, but at the same time cut-throat sharp and hard-edged. There is of course the fabulous Mimosa by Jason Bruges, with its square OLEDs that whip up into flower-like shapes. There really is something about nature and movement that suits the OLEDs really well.

Or take a look at  Steven Haulenbeek’s Cumulus Light Canopy.

So, without having the real thing to experiment with right now, I sought inspiration in these origami flowers. Perhaps they could open and close to provide the amount of light needed by the user?

If you are looking for a guide to folding Origami Flowers, go to this page please. Glad to help 😉

Next Nature Theme presentation

The presentation shown at the Next Nature Theme meeting today:

It was really good to hear the opinions of the coaches and students that work on other projects within the Next Nature Theme, as this project has no real research question or starting point for a direction other than the requirement to work with the Lumiblade OLED technology. Some of the feedback that I got:

  • What is the link between OLED and personal space/intimacy? Is OLED the only technology that can solve this? Would it not be easier or more logical to use other lighting technology? And continuing on this:
  • What are the advantages of OLED components? Is it possible to find an interesting direction from that?
  • Perhaps it would be good to start experimenting with the technology to find new and unexpected uses for it, and take it from there.
  • The associations and inspirational images in the video give a very upscale, expensive, nouveau-riche impression. Is this intended? Is this direction desirable and does it fit the concept? Be careful about what image you project to users.
  • What is the interaction between the technology and the user? In the video we see mostly ‘reactive’ installations. How can we influence the behaviour of the user? Keep this in mind while working on the concept.

It was very helpful to get this input, especially now that the project is still fresh and flexible. I can really work with these points and try to incorporate them into the design. I was very inspired by the whole meeting and am looking forward to starting experimenting with the OLED components. Hooking them up to an Arduino, experimenting with light intensity, generally getting a feel for the material. Until the components are in though, I want to do some paper modelling to experiment with folding structures, possibly making a cool stop-motion animation of some folding structures.

Parallel to that I am trying to contact and setup meetings with people who can give me insight in or point to papers about behaviour and needs of people working/interacting in public spaces; and about the influence of light intensity and light colour on the behaviour of people. One lead could be Philips Lighting where they did an interesting pilot with different colours of light in a primary school classroom. Hopefully I can gain some insight into the different needs that exist, and if there are any that would be ideal to solve by using OLEDs.

Some other cool stuff that I made a note of during the presentations:

Your ideas, comments, associations and reactions are more than welcome!

OLED technology, inspiration and ideas

This project is about what the possibilities are for Philips Lumiblades, which are standardized OLED components. Philips has been working with OLED for a few years now, showing some interesting art projects and prototypes at the Milan Salone del Mobile.

The advantage of the OLED technology is that it is super thin, generates almost no heat  and provides a beautiful, intimate halo of soft light. An exiting new aspect in lighting is that this time the surface itself produces light, instead of  a luminary reflecting the light from a single  source. Although it might be possible to produce several different colours, the components that are available now only have basic primary colours.

One of the main objectives of Philips Lighting is “simply enhancing everyday life with light”. This a theme that appeals to me, because the everyday, the ordinary, the habits and daily behaviour of people is what interests me most in design. It has overlap with other disciplines like behavioural science, psychology, ecology.

So how do we enhance everyday life? What needs enhancing? In today’s world, we are confronted with an ever-increasing amount of technology and interaction. Set places and times to perform standard actions are fast becoming a thing of the past, being mixed up, set free, let loose. We are studying in the living room, having teleconferences in restaurants, we try to read when next to us a group has a brainstorm session. There is so much going on around us, how can we focus on the task at hand? Are we committed to a day full of multitasking, doing everything partially, and nothing properly? Is this what we want, or is it something we fight against?

To find out more about these kinds of situations, I asked a few people to tell me if they ever experience a situation where there were different people in a space that were involved in different activities from each other. It turned out that everyone can relate to this question, and a lot of examples were given. At the TU/e, this is a daily occurence. At the cafe, people are constantly discussing in groups, being over lunch or on a project, and there are also many people working on their own there. In the workspaces, people are chatting for pleasure, brainstorming together, meeting with their coaches, making phone calls. Another example is at home, when there are other people present they are eating, watching tv, conversing, making homework, etcetera. The days are long gone when the family all sat at the dinner table and related their days to each other in the evening. Before my time, anyway. The participants said that they tried to shut out the world around them, mostly by posture, focus or sound.

A third example is from my own experience. I give homework classes to high school children that have diagnosed learning problems, many of them in the autistic spectrum, ADD, dyslexia. They are all in the same classroom for a few hours, working on different subjects, some making exercises, some learning for tests. A couple of years ago, Philips did an interesting pilot where a primary school class room was lit with different coloured light during the day, to help children focus, relax, energize, and so on. The result was said to be very positive. Now, in the homework class, for instance when you would set the light to energetic, it might help the dyslexic student, but totally mess up the one with ADD. Set it to focus, and the ADD student has a benefit, while his autistic neighbour loses himself in tunnel vision.

What if we can make a personal space with light? It should be something we can carry with us, to use whenever needed. The OLED technology could work well with this, since it is so light and thin, and consumes little energy. Also its soft, friendly glow lends itself well for up close use. The challenges lie in designing the shape, colour and use of the product. A short movie starting with some examples of OLED component use, shows a number of inspirational shapes, materials and associations.