Farewell Daft Punk

28 years since they formed the now legendary partnership Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, aka Daft Punk, have called it a day.

I’m a huge fan of theirs, and seeing them live in 2006 remains one of the stand out performances I’ve ever seen.

I’ve posted about Daft Punk before, but with the recent news announcement material relating to their original helmet designs has resurfaced that I’ve never seen before!

As a product designer turned lighting designer this discovery was very exciting.

From concept sketches by Alex and Martin, to the prototype builds by Alterian Inc.

Before the likes of Arduinos were commonplace, the original helmets genuinely needed this much electronics to function as they did!

From 2000 to 2003 the design evolved and drastically reduced the amount of cabling (and the need for backpacks!).

2005 onwards saw further evolution to the current(-ish) iteration we are now familiar with.

Huge thanks to @Daft_Wub for sharing – check out the thread for more images and even original LED schematics.

Curious that this announcement came only days after Perseverance touched down on Mars, coincidence… ?

LEGO First Dates

I haven’t been on a first date in some time now so I can’t verify, but LEGO seem certain that the often awkward or anxious situation could be improved with some brick building! (is there a scenario that LEGO wouldn’t improve?)

With increasing amounts of Creator Expert sets it’s clear that LEGO is for more than just kids. Let’s be honest – it always has been, but even in our very LEGO-friendly house there are certainly some sets that I’m more reluctant to let the kids play with (the MINI Cooper if they are good, the 4,295 pieces of Tower Bridge not just yet).

Obviously there are bigger fans of Lego than others, but I’ve never come across someone who dislikes LEGO so perhaps they are onto something here… happy building!

Arki Light

Almost 20 days since my last post and I’m on the brink of falling back into old habits! In my defence the first few weeks of this year have been a little hectic with starting a new job that certainly has its challenges when the whole team is working from home!

Nonetheless I made a conscious decision to kickstart my writing efforts on here, and I shall continue.

Today I’m sharing what looks like a beautiful lighting concept, arki light.

Designed by Sohyun An & Hyunji Shi and exhibited as part of Hongik University’s degree show, the arki light is an IoT device that allows you to capture the glorious gradient of a sunset, or any other moment for that matter, and apply the same visual aesthetic to your own interior space.

Able to record the colours, hue, saturation, and intensity of the scene you choose to capture, the app can then recall and apply that moment to the light fixture which is comprised of four rails of moving and rotating RGBW LED heads to recreate the same effect on your walls and ceiling.

The clean lines and simple shapes add a certain elegance to the physical form (something the product designer in me certainly appreciates), meaning it is likely to sit well in any number of interior spaces or styles.

The app is also intended to learn your mood and offer up lighting scenarios to suit. Whether that’s providing a take on circadian style lighting, offering your favourite colour as a pick-me-up, or applying a calming moment to match your yoga set.

And if the visual aesthetic wasn’t enough, the integrated speaker in the bottom of the chandelier can also replicate ambient noise taken from the capture of your real-world moment.

As I type here in the midst of another lockdown, this could be an extremely popular way for people to engage with previous memories or transform their own interior spaces by bringing elements of the much-yearned-for outside in.

Working in the lighting industry I’m keen to keep a close eye on any announcements or developments related to what I understand is sadly only a concept at the moment, but on a personal level I’d definitely love something like this in my living room!

Clean Slate

I’ve long been a fan of Andreas Wannerstedt’s endless looping animations that combine super smooth graphics to an often playful effect.

The simple shapes that he uses have a whimsical charm to them, and are perfectly described by his volume titles as “oddly satisfying”.

The most recent work on the artist’s Instagram is Clean Slate, which resonated with me as being particularly apt for the current time of year.

As well as the more obvious rotating hands that smooth over the sand and provide a literal clean slate as many of us are hoping for 2021, the spiked rods immediately struck me as an interpretation of an injection. Maybe a subtle nod to the COVID-19 vaccinations being rolled out, or maybe I’m reading far too much into another one of his hypnotic animations. Either way, it’s a superb piece of work!

Some of my earlier favourites of his mesmerising work include:

Although his animations are vaguely based on real world behaviours, they often break the boundaries of tolerances, friction and gravity, enabling endless motions of the cleanest order.

https://andreaswannerstedt.se/about

And it is perhaps this brief escapism from the constrained rules of physics in the real world that makes them so oddly satisfying indeed.

Clean Slate is available on the digital crypto-artwork site Super Rare, although the reserve price of 8 ETH is sadly a little beyond my budget and I will have to be content with enjoying his work on my social media feeds.

Here’s to leaving 2020 behind and a new start in 2021, happy new year!

In Light Of It All

2020. Frankly, what a year.

Unprecedented, unpredictable, remarkable, challenging, uncertain, tough, strange, turbulent, stressful, complicated, difficult… The list goes on and 2020 may well be granted its own chapter in the thesaurus!

There is very little I can say about this year that hasn’t been said in any number of end of year review articles already, but what I would like to do is to take part in supporting the #inlightofitall campaign from The Light Tribe and Designers Mind to round off my comeback to writing.

Thank you to Light360 for the nomination.

The trials and stresses of the year have been intense at times to say the least, and sadly the toll on mental heath for many of us has been overwhelming. Working from home during lockdown, worrying if your partner’s business will survive, balancing home schooling, childcare, project deadlines, and of course what has felt like endless Zoom and Teams calls.

The stigma around mental health is lessening, but there is still a long way to go both in our understanding and social acceptance to acknowledge it’s ok not to be ok. Initiatives like this help raise much needed awareness.

Personally I found solace and huge benefits in the form of running. It hasn’t always been easy, enjoyable or indeed possible, but I will always be grateful for the support of my wonderful family, my friends that checked in with me, and my colleagues at work (UK and overseas).

Admittedly I am a few days after the intended dates of the week long initiative (project deadlines did not seem to let up!), but I still wanted to highlight and share the cause that The Light Tribe, Phos and Designers Mind are celebrating – the power of coming together as a collective for suicide prevention charity CALM to support the huge increase in the number of people struggling with mental health this year.

As I’m a few days late I won’t be nominating anyone specifically, but simply asking anyone that sees this post to make any donation that you can here. A remarkable amount over £2750 as it stands!

Thank you @light.tribe.revolution and @DesignersMindForum for #inlightofitall and here’s to 2021!

Gingerbread Architecture

To continue the efforts of posting some of my own work on here I wanted to share a recent festive drawing.

One evening last week I joined a virtual drawing class organised by Delta Light and run by Philip Buckingham of @drawlikeanarchitect.

The class focused on developing techniques for freehand architectural drawing, something which, much like writing, many designers should continue to develop with regular practice (admittedly I am guilty of not doing this as much as I should!).

As much as there is heavy focus on the digital approach and polished CGIs, the skill of freehand drawing and sketching is a very important. A high-resolution or photo-realistic CGI looks fantastic but it can look too fixed or set to a client, whereas a sketch or a hand render that is left looking perhaps a little loose and unfinished around the edges allows clients to use their own imagination to embellish any gaps.

The class spent an hour or so focusing on sketching techniques, some theory on different drawing styles, and then a final effort to produce a freehand isometric sketch of a gingerbread house.

Here’s mine:

Materials used: A4 sketch pad, HB pencil, Uni Pin 0.4 / 0.2 fineliners, Paper Mate felt outliner, Staedtler colouring pencils (borrowed from my kids’ stationery box).

The teaching took you through the process of building up the drawing from a freehand isometric sketch to “crate” the house, frame the individual shapes in a little more detail, then add line depth, colour, shadow, and notes.

My final image was shared on Instagram and LinkedIn as part of the #deltadraw competition and was fortunate enough to receive a special mention!

Now, just to raid my kitchen cupboard and attempt to make it for real! Pass the Battenberg…

Generative Particles

The pressure is on for my first proper blog post back writing to be one of epic content. However that’s a big load to bear, especially when I’m supposed to be easing back in to writing.

So for now, and hot on the heels of my comeback post, I’m going to procrastinate a little more and make this another warm up post simply to recognise that as well as plenty of my previous usual content, I’ll be posting some of my own stuff on here too.

The hope is that by announcing it in the public domain it will serve as enough of an incentive to continue to work on it. And because I’ve now said it to all of you, it will serve as a statement of intent that will keep me tinkering away.

For a little while now I’ve been very interested in generative graphics and elements of interactive content, particularly for digital particle systems. Whether that’s something driven by a person waving in front of a sensor, a data stream pulled from somewhere, ambient noise, or any other external factor that can affect the movement and colour of a display.

Colour x time (WIP)

To that end I’ve been exploring different effects with and without interaction, and even some with very basic amounts of Python that I can just about follow (absTime.seconds, anyone?).

Acid Moon (WIP)

It’s all fairly small scale at the moment, but the idea is that one day I’ll plug these through a projector and run them in real-time at scale and at an exciting location.

No Name (WIP)

Some are affected by audio or user input on parameters for the live program, but these snippets are just short extracted moments as part of the tests.

Murmur (WIP)
Audio-Reactive Cloud (WIP)
Data Swarm (WIP)
Sound-Reactive Particle Bar (WIP)

You may have seen a few of these on my Instagram before, but others have never seen the light of day. Either way, I look forward to sharing the developments of these (and more) as my experiments continue!

Guess Who’s Back?

Why hello there, readers!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Almost three years according to my dashboard, and far longer than I ever intended to take a break from publishing my ramblings on here. But now I’m back, or at least I will be very soon.

That’s not to say I haven’t written anything in the last few years. I’ve a number of drafts on here that, for one reason or another, never quite got published, I toyed with Medium as another outlet, I’ve written and contributed to articles for different publications in the lighting design industry where I work (such as this or this), done a fair bit more public speaking at places like this and this (in person and remotely), written articles for here, posted on here, and of course I tweet a lot (does that count as writing?).

But more often than not, work and family life has been very busy (in a good way), which left very little in the way of time to write. Perhaps a fair excuse, but perhaps not entirely the truth as I found space for other pastimes like building these.

Anyway. I think the tipping point came last weekend when I caught myself feeling a little hypocritical at one of my own tweets.

Here I am promoting something that I myself have let fall by the wayside, which simply cannot continue.

The fact is that designers (yes, *all* designers) should be able to write. Even in the often aesthetically-driven world of design, not all communication is visual. Being able to coherently and concisely put your vision into words is something that can help immeasurably in any industry.

Your writing should be worked on and honed as with any other skillset in your discipline.

Lockdown has been the perfect time for people to rediscover old habits, or reconnect with hobbies that they previously didn’t have time for, and blogging fits well within that.

A few of my friends have picked up their keyboards again, including Feudball who is definitely not short of content at the moment, posting as he does on the analysis of footballing current affairs.

Whilst it’s nice to see that some viewing figures to my blog still remain for all the links and historic posts (some entirely worthy of being archived as it happens), I hope to bring new content, thoughts, reviews, and maybe even some useful insight back to the blogosphere (do people still say that?), all under the guise of my claimed inspirational and creative ramblings.

Much like exercise it’s important not to overdo it right away, especially if you haven’t engaged in the activity in a while. And as anyone will tell you, warming up beforehand is paramount.

So consider this my warm up before easing back into the world of WordPress. I’m not diving right back into daily or even weekly posts, but hope to get a couple up before Christmas and then start again more regularly in 2021.

Here’s to more writing!

Merry Christmas!

You’ll notice that I’ve been rather quiet on here of late.  Both work and personal life have been all consuming over recent months, and despite a few attempts at writing or drafting articles none made it up to be actually posted.

I’m going to close out the year with a very amusing, if slightly NSFW, animation from Anomaly which is narrated by the notable voice of Patrick Stewart.

Full video credits here.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all, see you in 2018 for (hopefully) more regular posts!

Small World In Motion

Nikon have recently announced the winners of their Small World in Motion video competition this year (separate to their Small World Photomicrography competition) and the results are genuinely stunning.

If I didn’t know otherwise I would have said that any number of them could be human-made CGI or generative algorithms, but these are all genuine real life moments captured on film using varying techniques and degrees of magnification.

All of the top five chosen are worthy of their place, but my favourite is actually the entry that was awarded 2nd place – Perspiration on a human fingertip by Tsutomu Tomita and Shun Miyazaki.

It was recorded using stereomicroscopy and shows between 5x and 40x magnification of a fingertip, to the point where you can actually see individual droplets of sweat appearing on the surface of the skin.  Incredible!

See the top five and all honorable mentions from 2017 here.


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