The blowfishLamp is an exploration of biomimetic design that embeds aspects of biology, engineering, and computer science, challenging the concept of a typical luminaire while creating a fixture that simultaneously responds to, and augments its environment.
Inspired by Diodontidae, a family of fish commonly referred to as 'blowfish', the design attempts to engage the morphology and behavior of a biological organism through an orchestration of parametric modeling, pliable materials, and response to environmental feedback. The imbricated membrane pattern was mathematically rationalized using parametric modeling software and was selected, in conjunction with the membrane material, for its characteristic flexibility. The integration of technology, coordinated with the material quality and method of assembly, allows for a kinetic organism that responds to external stimuli.
Throughout the design process I explored various techniques in manufacturing, production and movement. Through this process the lamp became a testing ground for various inputs of data. Parametric design tools allowed me to test designs quickly and easily which could then be output and produced using the laser cutter. This created flexibility in my design, allowing me to tailor the lamp to any input factor, environmental, aesthetic or structural.
After the overall design and construction was established and prototyped, I went back to implement the kinetic aspects of the lamp, as it was not only to be a functional object luminaire but it needed to respond to its surroundings. This led me into the investigation and study of mechanics and how these can be transferred and used in prototype and design. This involved the Arduino microcontroller and various pieces of electronics and software, some custom, some open source.
The general concept behind the movement of the lamp was based on the idea that the user could choose what inputs they wanted. If they wanted it connected to live online feeds it would require a specific type of software and hardware, if they wanted it to respond to people in a space then it would require different hardware and software. For my prototype I wanted it to respond to occupancy. As it inhabits a space devoid of occupants the lamp is static, only when someone passes under the lamp does it begin to move.
You can follow the design process on my blog.