Project 4

Notes about previous lighting engines made for relaxation

  • The light is never harsh: It creates no harsh contrast/shadows (it gradually fades out), and always it’s always slightly dim
  • The light fixture itself is usually smooth and minimal, like the light the form of the fixture is soft and organic, it has rounded surfaces, not many harsh angles

When I was searching for light for relaxation a lot of stuff around “light therapy” came up. This refers to the way artificial light is used to treat seasonal depression. The light engine will mimic outdoor light and affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep

I mostly experimented with they way light shines through different textures/thicknesses of paper. I found that exposing the light directly is really harsh. I can still create variations of brightness without exposing the light bulb. I also tried to experiment with ways the paper could fit around the light bulb.


  • building off previous experimentation with different layers of paper → soft/subtle diffusion of dim light (no harsh light)= relaxing
  • organic/fluid forms remind me of relaxation
  • this is kind of messed up but I was inspired by the stitching of the lamp in American Horror story where this serial killer stitched together his victim’s skin to make a lamp. I personally like the texture of the stitching on my lamp when it’s off (but it might be too busy for most people). I mostly did it because I thought it might be a good way to connect different pieces. Although it looks ok when it’s off, when the light is on exposes the imperfection of my hand stitching (paper not lining up → creating harsh contrasts of light/dark, light shines too brightly through holes)
  • stitching paper is tricky. I found that the best way is to use a firm card stock paper and pre-poke holes in it.
  • I was also inspired by baseballs (the stitching & organic/round form) and used the flat pattern of a baseball as a guide for cutting out my paper.


  • from my last sketch model I enjoyed the different brightnesses of light my I created when I added different layers of paper, with the light on. You could really see the different layers → I decided to play with negative space in my layering (it was kind of light cutting a snowflake → random, you don’t know exactly what the end product will look like, but the more experimental you are the cooler it will look in the end)
  • this time I wanted to experiment with the layers of paper not touching. I used tabs to hold the layers in place. Though the tabs held them in place well once they were in. There were very hard to put in and I ripped some paper.
  • ^Overall I think I prefer when the layers are touching. This method created harsh shadows and bright light and it was a bit busy. I think the end product was fine, but it reminded me more of a dining table centerpiece light than a atmospheric relaxation light


I decided to refine this model.

Things I added:

  • light bulb attachment (cut out at the top) so that the light fixture hangs. I made kind of like a straw hole and it worked ok, but it was still kind of droopy. Also, I’m not sure a hanging light fits with relaxation for me.
  • experimented with different paper. I used printer paper with purple Elmer's glue instead of old sketchbook paper with my clear glue stick. I was skeptical of using cool tones since it’s generally been established that relaxation = warm tones, but I actually liked the purple and think it still conveyed relaxation.
  • I added more layers to add more of a gradation. I was also hoping it would add more interest/complexity to my lamp. However it made me wonder whether complexity was necessary for a relaxation light, since according to the criteria we established, the light should be somewhat minimal.


In the feedback I got on Tuesday my peers said the layers I used caused too much of a harsh contrast, and were a bit too busy. They were also confused why the brightness increased outwards instead of inwards. I decided to address these two main concerns this time:

  • I put the layers on the inside of the lamp instead of the outside → the thick card stock paper shell diluted them a bit
  • Instead of cutting the different layers with scissors I tore them with my hands. This gradually thinned out the layers and helped me avoid such a harsh contrast.
  • I used a thinner paper to create the layers in order to reduce contrast. Though this smoothed the transition between layers I felt like there wasn’t enough difference in brightness between layers and the end product looked kind of muddy. Also, the thin paper was sort of hard to work with (I had trouble gluing it and it creased often (although the creases didn’t really show up).
  • I placed the layers so that the light was brighter towards the center

Other things I thought about

  • I created a stand this time instead of letting the fixture hang. I decided to make the fixture itself larger as well because I didn’t want the stand to over power the fixture (since it’s exposed). I think the cut out & form of the stand worked out, but I definitely need to use a thicker paper or maybe even a hard board.
  • ^I’m thinking that maybe next time I should try covering up the stand since it’s kind of distracting but I’m worried that the light won’t shine evenly throughout the fixture
  • since I placed the layers in the opposite direction, so the light shined brighter in the center and it was darker on the edges → the edges that I sewed and cut looked especially messy. I still need to figure out a way to clean up these edges. I could maybe use a different attachment method (instead of sewing) or change the form of the lighting engine altogether.


After getting my group’s feedback on the new layers in this recent sketch model, I decided to test out different papers/types of layering with these swatches:

thicker (printer) paper on the inside
thicker (printer) paper on the outside
thin paper on the outside
thin paper on the inside

Overall I think that having the layers on the inside is the better option. One group member said it added a nice surprise when the light was turned on and made the fixture look cleaner when it was off. I also think I will use printer paper/a thicker paper for the layers to make them more defined on the inside. Though this will ad a harsher contrast I think it is fine since the layers are on the inside and will be diluted with the outer layer of card stock. I think some contrast is needed in this case in order to make the light look cleaner/neater.


The things I was working on for the final model

  • creating a base light bulb holder that’s sturdier & more hidden
  • creating cleaner edges → using a different method of attachment between different pieces of paper
I figured out that I could simplify this form a little more, so that it could simply be a tube that the main part of the fixture could fit over & be stabilized by
I tried this new method of folding in & creating more clean edges. With this method I struggled with creating the correct curve so that the pieces would fit together perfectly (when I was previously stitching the edges I did not have to think about this). I also struggled with attaching the two panels when both their edges were folded over. However, I was worried that with the alternative (if one of the panels was flat (vs with a folded over edge)) the light would shine through & expose the folded over edge. of the other panel
in order to create the correct curve I used my previous sewn model as a guide. However, It was still very difficult to attach these pieces, so I realized I had to compromise and have one flat panel
I ended up using one flat panel and one with a curved edge. Though this allowed me to attach the two panels a bit easier, it created the new problem of the extra tabs shining through when the light was on. In order to approach this problem I ripped the edges tabs so it would maybe appear as another layer.



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