Switch Candle

This lamp generates light in a sense that “it keeps the fire alive” and tries to connect to the way we interact with lamps in this era. Elegant movements physically keep the life of the flame burning. It tries to create awareness about how we perceive artificial light, how we interact with it and how we should not forget the amount of energy light needs to shine.

For ages we have put much effort in keeping on the fire at night to extend the day and keeping us warm and safe. Since the invention of electric light sources, I believe we lost track of how much effort and energy it really takes to keep us awake.

I made the lamp during an exchange semester at Carnegie Mellon University. The assignment was to design and make a lamp in 5 weeks. Yet another lamp? Maybe… The essence of the assignment was “form” where I challenged myself to realize a geography of elegant movements that light candles.

The lamp attempts to display an abstract, solid, yet elegant form. These characteristics are integrated trough the use of poplar wood, seamlessly aligned with the more modern look of stainless steel and brushed aluminum.

 

Switch Candle
Switch Candle
Switch Candle
Switch Candle
Switch Candle
Switch Candle
Switch Candle
Switch Candle
Switch Candle

 

How it works

When the user turns the knob to the right, it will light candles. The further the user turns the knob, the more candles are lit. The same principle counts backwards. The further the user turns the knob left, the more light will be dimmed by extinguishing more candles.

Candles are lit and extinguished in random. The lamp will automatically ignite new candles if the candles run out of wax and if they are available. The lamp checks if it needs to ignite a new candles by measuring the weight of each candle. In case the lamp runs out of full candles it will sense when the user puts a new candle in one of its sockets, and will immediately ignite the new candles to the amount set by the knob.

How it is made

During the making of this lamp, the geography of the movements determined the way the mechanics where designed, where the size of these mechanics set the limits of the visual design.

Making the mechanics, I mainly used CAD and the laser cutter. For the outside, I almost used every tool in the wood workshop and the metal lath for the knob. The intelligence is implemented using the Arduino platform.

Special thanks to

Thomas Merriman – Carnegie Mellon University. Thom is an incredibly inspiring teacher that helped me actively trough quite some challenges in making this lamp.

Bram Drenthe – Software and advice on electronics. Bram practically translated all the logics into Arduino code. He also helped me stabilize the electronics.

Trieuvy (Joey) Luu – Camera and studio setup. Joey guided me trough the process of making the movie and filmed the actual shots himself.