The Reactive Light Project
Weißensee Art Academy Berlin

Lighting is a classic and fascinating topic for designers, especially now where LED and OLEDs with their completely different form factors are challenging lamp archetypes. Emerging hybrid technologies and the multitude of nostalgic products are clear indicators of this transitional phase we are in. In the Reactive Light project we focussed on light as an ever changing natural phenomenon that inspired us to develop new forms of artificial lighting. We explored the possibilities of the latest lighting technologies and at the same time created rich and enjoyable interactions demonstrated through functional prototypes.
This project took a fresh approach to designing a lamp for a smart and connected world, whilst taking account of the many rich cultural traditions and design contributions which exist in the field of lighting. Aside from a basic understanding of the phenomenon of light, its physiological effect, and also an introduction to lighting technology, we wanted to investigate the possibilities for improving the inter-relationship between lighting and environment. What untapped creative potential lies within the concept that lighting could develop an understanding of its environment? What means would an inanimate object use to express itself, and how can one tangibly design communication to interact with such an object?

Meet us:
at Salone del Mobile, Milan
April 4-9, 2017
Salone Satellite
Pavillion 22-24.S 08

Press Kit
Xinyue Yang
Breeze is a lamp which draws on the experience of naturally generated light, the concept for which has its origins in the taming of fire. Three procedures for handling fire inspired the user’s interaction with the lamp. In order to light a fire, air must flow, so sometimes we slightly blow towards the fire to make it brighter and stronger. In the case of a candle, however, blowing air is used to extinguish the flame. The third procedure is based on the way a flame can be passed from one torch to another, with just a slight touch. Breeze uses 'blowing' as an input, using a microphone to detect if there is a change in air flow. With a gentle blow, the lamp will get slightly brighter. A strong blow will switch off the light. Just like a torch, the lamp is portable and can light up another lamp when they get close to each other, reminiscent of the ritual of the Olympic Torch. The input for this action comes from a hall sensor, which can detect the inbuilt magnet of the other lamp. Taking it in your hand, you can use and move the lamp wherever you want. As the handle is like a thin stick, it cannot stand by itself, but just like a flower needs to be planted in the soil or in a vase. I envision how users may mount it, according to varying situations, in a personal and inventive way. When it is used outside, for example in a garden, the natural wind takes over, and a new interaction starts.

Christoph Volbers
When sunlight shines through the trees, a play of light and shadow occurs on the ground below. The leaves and branches swaying gently in the breeze create a moving pattern: a static image, simultaneously defined by countless, little, constant variations - a kind of visual rustling.
We recognise similar phenomena from other areas of the natural landscape, be it the babbling mountain stream, waves breaking on the shore, or clouds drifting by. They are all to a certain extent repetitive and static, and therefore demand little attention, however they can stimulate our imaginations with their calm, yet constantly changing movements. If we surrender ourselves to the observation of these phenomena, we easily slip into a state of absent-mindedness, in which our thoughts can drift freely, and new ideas and perspectives seem to appear out of “nowhere”.
Komorebi translates these phenomena into a lamp. Three moving glass globes are adorned with a texture that creates shadows, and so when Komorebi is lit, an abstract play of light is projected into the space. Similar to quiet background noise, this subtle play of light can stimulate our thought processes, and therefore the lamp may promote creativity, increase our capacity for perception and encourage a state of focused tranquility.

Dario Jérôme Dammé | Prak Piakot
Take the light where you need it
Just like the urban nomads, whose minimal lifestyle it was developed to suit, NOMAD is also mobile and prepared for every eventuality. As a lamp that can be used as a main light, desk lamp or nightlight, it is versatile enough to replace any indoor lamp. It is easy to switch between its lighting functions by simply moving the lamp head and the handle, with which it can easily be transported and placed elsewhere.
The design is aimed to suit those living in a single-person household. Urban nomads consciously make the most of a small space and expect a high (multi-) functionality from their minimal possessions. Owning fewer things doesn't automatically mean that one lacks anything, but can enable greater mobility and personal freedom.
With regards to appearance and function, NOMAD draws inspiration from the petroleum lantern or its modern interpretation as a camping lamp. Like these examples, NOMAD works independently from mains electricity, getting its energy from a rechargeable battery, and therefore is able to be positioned freely within a space. Nevertheless it offers a high quality and brightness of light due to its tuneable white LEDs. Four different lamp positions trigger four pre-defined light modes, which generate varying lighting conditions.
The handle is the most visible reference to the classic lantern it is modelled on. The actual form of the lamp took shape as a result of a mix of experiments with material and technical-conceptual planning. In order to fulfil such different functions, the light has to have a certain height, be easy to transport and also stable. It became clear that these requirements could best be fulfilled with a conical, tapering shade of folded sheet stainless steel. An uncomplicated process, that would be suited to potential industrial production.
The characteristics of this lamp define it as a useful appliance for the flexible lifestyle of the modern nomad. Last but not least, it is a lamp which alludes to the contemporary trend in technology, which allows various appliances to disappear from the market, replacing them with more innovative versions, that unite multiple functions in one.


Jing-Wen Tang | Ying Li
Overcoming the downsides of traveling

Jet lag, also called desynchronosis, is a temporary disorder that causes fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems and other symptoms as a result of adapting to a different light-dark schedule following a flight to a new time zone. To minimize the symptoms of jet lag, there are several suggested strategies. For instance, one should maintain physical fitness and health, prevent dehydration by drinking water, and adjust one's schedule to the new time zone before you leave, also called a “jet lag plan”. For people suffering from jet lag, Jeggo offers a new preventative and treatment strategies. By automatically providing lighting to manage jet lag, as well as playing natural images and sounds, it is designed to solve the problem both mentally and physically.
Jeggo automatically synchronizes with the jet lag plan, which helps to adjust your body clock to the destination time, and reminds you when to avoid or absorb light through light effects mimicking sunrise and sunset. It contains a projector and a speaker to emit relaxing, abstract, natural patterns and sounds, such as rain, waves, leaves, flowers, trees, birds, and so on. By grabbing the connected controller, you can freely play with the natural lights and sounds to ease the stress and feel more relaxed.
Jeggo dissociates itself from traditional lamp styles: the linear structure and sleek reflective panel of this device result in a minimal design which blends cultural references from both East and West. By tilting the panel, you can adjust the direction of light according to your preference, triggering a personal interaction between light and viewer. The felted wool controller, designed in an oloid form, gracefully combines an elegant look with a soothing touch. Jeggo can be used either in the home or as a special service in a hotel room. The portable personal controller is easy to carry around. You can fiddle with it anytime, anywhere.
Jeggo is an attempt to alter the experience of a medical device and transform the serious treatment process into an aesthetic pleasure. It also demonstrates how people could interact with lights in different physical and experimental ways.

Peter Soerries
Architectural space is defined by horizontal and vertical walls. In public spaces in particular, interior spaces can appear impersonal, stark and monotonous, and offer their visitors a poor quality of experience thanks to their utilitarian design and sterile lighting.
The modular system monoLITh is conceived to enhance such spaces, subverting their rigid atmosphere through a series of animated, "communicating" elements. It takes effect through a row of light boxes, which display an enigmatic, constantly changing interior life, conveyed by light. In a sober, rational everyday world, they appear to be independent reacting organisms, a vibrant parallel world, which can not be exactly defined, but nevertheless transmits information.
Its lighting effect is based on a surprisingly simple principle: a reflective foil is set in a pre-programmed motion by a special mechanism, and projects reflections from a fixed light source onto a translucent surface. The ever-changing form of the moving foil is transferred into the resulting image, and gives the impression of 3-dimensional movement. The light appears to pulse and breath, retract and pause for a moment, before expanding once again.
Thus the result is a non-stop analog animation which engages with the viewer within a public space. Individual modules can be connected and synchronized to create a larger, homogenous surface. As they draw the viewer into a sensual and obscure experiential space, they challenge both his cognitive perception and his imagination. Something is conveyed, but exactly what that is can only be discovered by the individual himself.
The information is transmitted through colour, intensity and movement. Therefore a neutral white tone behaves in a vague and disorientated manner, whilst a reddish, concentrated signal could intuitively announce an event, for instance, an approaching underground train.

info AT
Maria Braun
Previously the time was marked only by natural cycles, such as the passing seasons of the movements of the Sun, but when the clock was invented, it became possible to measure time and divide it up. Since industrialisation, for which it was essential to synchronise the working hours of many people, our culture is ever more strictly governed by time precision, which has developed in parallel to our growing global network, creating a central time scheme, in which all procedures are defined. Time has become a scarce resource, one which has to always be used efficiently. The Smartphone today serves as a meter, a means by which we are continually connected to the universal organisation of time, and in which our time, which we infinitely adjust and distribute, dispersed across the globe, simultaneously implodes. Thanks to this device, now everything can be immediately achieved, anywhere, anytime.
This saves time and exhausts us. As the natural rhythm of time is not something we humans can simply ignore. Bound into a structured daily routine, we no longer experience time as something available or to be taken for granted, but as something which relentlessly progresses, which through our perfect time-planning we futilely try to resist. The only antidote can be to change our perception of time, and to liberate time from the constraints of clocks (and Smartphones).
Timeout is an apparatus that encourages users to take a break and switch off from external time pressure, generating instead a more natural, flowing perception of time. The timer in this case is a small projected spotlight, which alters over a certain period of time, becoming smaller, sharper and brighter. The Smartphone serves as the light source. Incorporated into the system, the phone thus loses its influence on the user. It is placed in a special holder, and is slowly moved forward thanks to a small motor. The light is refracted through a lens and the projection changes, and becomes animated.
The round form of the lens and the projection serve as a metaphor for recurring events and an alternative, cyclical and primordial experience of time. When time is up, the small spotlight comes to a standstill. One can restart the timer manually if desired, by pushing the Smartphone holder back into its starting position. Its golden, shiny, brass surfaces lend Timeout the appearance of a precious, mechanical timepiece, which stands out as a stylish home accessory.

Light Piece
Nitzan Ron
In a time when people are addicted to buttons, when all of our daily electronic tools can be shaped and adapted to whatever function we need, Light Piece is an object that refers to a pre-electronic time, before the advent of touch screens and their countless buttons. It is a tool with one function, one logic, one plan. Like the original hourglass, Light Piece measures the passage of time, but it does so using light instead of sand. Taking inspiration from sand, this timer presents light as a tangible and measurable material, and simulates the passage of time by using very simple mechanics to reproduce the effects of gravity and weight. The hand-sized Light Piece, like the original device, is a tool meant to be usersed by one person. Once it goes off, it can be reused and relit indefinitely by turning it upside down.


Alissa Wolter
JOSH is a puristic light which allows the lighting conditions of an entire room to be transformed through a simple and intuitive movement. Simply by adjusting the height of the open-ended body of the lamp, one regulates the temperature, brightness and direction of the light. In varying positions, JOSH creates not only different atmospheres, but also bestows the space with an accordingly different function.
And so for instance, if the lamp is elevated and switched to a cold, white, upwards-shining floodlight, a dining room can suddenly be transformed into a bright workspace. If one pulls the lamp in the opposite direction, the floodlight disappears again, while the downwards-shining light continually gets warmer and more subdued, creating a dimmed, relaxed atmosphere.
The particular feature of this light is its combination of simplicity and complexity, of trusted methods and surprising ones. The open, visible mechanism is based on the interplay between pulley and counterweight, familiar from old-fashion ceiling lamps. In this case, the pulley itself serves as the counterweight. This functional mechanism allows the light to be positioned at any chosen height. The analog mechanics are combined with an invisible digital control system, which seamlessly translates the movements to regulate the light. In this way, the natural and intuitive way the user interacts with the simple motion principle of the lamp is equally applicable to its much more technically complex reactive light, allowing a new kind of communication to develop between user and object.

Simon von Schmude
Koïr is a lighting system that behaves like a swarm, consisting of many ceiling-mounted lighting elements, which respond to the movement and light in a space or room. Just like in a swarm, at first glance, each single element acts independently. If one element detects movement, it will light up. Simultaneously it will pick up on the ambient light in the space. When one element lights up, nearby elements will light up accordingly, passing on the signal. The resulting swarm is able to intelligently react to people in transit spaces, reflecting, interpreting, and even anticipating their dynamics. Within the swarm, the light is free to jump between elements, making the space altogether reactive. Thus Koïr is capable of adapting to constantly changing situations, creating spaces which seem truly alive.


Mattis Obermann
Different lighting atmospheres have a direct effect on one’s state of mind. The blinding glare of the bedside lamp on a dark morning makes you want to turn away. If you are still busy working at your desk when the sun sets early on a Winter’s day, a bright, cold light can have an activating effect to counter tiredness and increase concentration. When work is over and the day is drawing to an end, a warm, cosy light sets the tone, winding down with our natural rhythm. Many different lights are switched on or off according to the situation and atmosphere. A special light effect is created when the lamp is directed towards a wall or ceiling, using the surface as a reflector to produce a pleasant, indirect, soft glow.
For this effect, long, thin lighting strips are highly suitable. This kind of lighting situation could be easily improvised for example with the kind of hanging strip lighting found in an office. If one places the light on the ground, tilted at an angle towards the wall, then the entire wall becomes a source of light. A diffused light is created, and simultaneously the space takes on a different structure. It appears as if the wall were glowing from within. This makes the room seem taller and the light becomes part of the architecture.
From these observations, the idea for DASH arose, a wallwasher controlled by hand gestures, allowing the lighting mood of a room to be controlled intuitively. The system consists of an LED strip, a ‘hub’, which controls the light temperature and brightness, and a portable controller, which communicates with the hub via Bluetooth, and detects the gestures of the user via sensors. One places the controller in a certain place, for example, on the couch or bedside table, and holds a hand above it. If one now moves the hand up and down, the light’s brightness changes, whereas sideways movements regulate the colour temperature. A smooth interaction is triggered, through which infinitely variable light situations can be created within a space, controlled simply by the movement of one’s body.
Augmented Light
Henning R. Horstmann
A radical synthesisation of light based on the example of the classic Anglepoise lamp.
One of the most important human senses for perceiving one's environment is sight, however it is only possible to see in the presence of light. An internalised understanding of the behaviour of light shapes the way we perceive space and materiality. Man-made, artificial light can conversely make us aware of the relativity of visual perception.
Augmented Light is an attempt to look beyond the growing detachment from natural light. With an interactive spacial exhibit, the radical digitalisation of physical light is explored. The use of a trusted pattern of interaction - the operation of an archetypal Anglepoise desk lamp - creates the foundation for a game with immersion and plausibility, and makes the gradual detachment from the real directly tangible. The designer takes a somewhat analytical, somewhat cynical, look at the future possibilities promised by technical progress in the fields of Augmented and Virtual Reality, and makes use of this repertoire to reveal the potential possibilities and limits of immersive technologies.


Department of Product Design in collaboration with eLAB,
the Laboratory for Interactive Technologies@Weißensee Art Academy Berlin
Prof. Carola Zwick | Dipl. Des. Felix Groll | 2.2017

Lighting technologies: Ole Jeschonnek
Text coaching: Andreas Kallfelz
Translation: Yolanda Leask
Photo coaching: Sebastian Pfuetze

We also would like to thank the Weißensee workshops for their support.
Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin
Weißensee Art Academy Berlin

Buehringstraße 20
13086 Berlin