We began with a vision for a lamp comprised of a contorting membrane that was visually weightless, with hints of structure only becoming apparent when illuminated. We decided to look at parametric design and how this could benefit the design process through establishing mathematical relationships between all elements of the lamp's structure.
The lamp's ribbed structure is designed through the use of geometric parameters put together in Grasshopper. This will allow us to modify any aspect of the design at any stage in the process.
We generated our desired preliminary form by adjusting specific parameters in Grasshopper. These parameters include the base geometry shape, the amount of ribs, the rib distribution distance, the twist angle, the scaling factor, the rib depth and even the material thickness to be reflected within our knotched attachment scheme.
After laser cutting the pieces in acrylic, we began to test their material properties during assembly. The 3.0mm acrylic seemed to be very brittle and therefore was not easily assembled using a simple friction-fit technique. For the next iteration we will be exploring a clip strategy to ensure each piece fits perfectly to keep the vertical members aligned.
The assembled skeletal structure was then placed on a light table to analyze its light reflection and refraction properties. As we had intended, when illuminated, the material becomes almost ghostly. The light is permitted to flow through the material, yet visually one can see the presence of the geometry through the refractive and reflective properties of the material's edges.
The structure's ability to withstand the force of an outer membrane was then tested with a tight-fitting tensile membrane ensuring us that the prototype's rigidity would suffice for the final product.
We then purchased spandex membranes of varying thicknesses and colours to test their illumination qualities while pulled in tension against the acrylic structure.
Material #1: Grey Spandex (Thick) - The grey spandex produced limited illumination and did not have the aesthetic qualities we wanted while not illuminated.
Material #2: White Spandex (Thin) - Upon closer inspection, the thin spandex allowed the bulb to be seen from the exterior while illuminated. Our design intent requires the disguising of the interior elements, so this option was not viable.
Material #3: White Spandex (Thick) - To quote goldilocks, the third one was just right. The thicker spandex provided a nice gradient of light and did not reveal the inner workings of the lamp. Great success!