New Making

Translating data into light

Solas is a paper lampshade made using recycled flyers from Edinburgh festivals. It portrays personal memorable experiences as abstract shapes and creates data driven light emissions.

Each festival in Edinburgh is very unique in its theme and spirit, however there is one issue that every festival has in common – waste. Fringe festival is constantly growing, attracting more tourists and performers each year, which leads to an increase in demand for one of the most efficient ways to promote shows – flyering. Flyering is creating an enormous amount of street litter and that is why I decided to design a product, which would encourage visitors to collect flyers in order to develop a personalised souvenir.

‘Dear Data’ by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, a collection of data driven postcards, contains series of very inspirational creative shapes and patterns, which represent simple sets of data. The methods of data collection and data processing portrayed in the book sparked the idea – how can I recreate a memory of a particular day with abstract shapes?

The first step would be to capture a variety of personal and public quantitative data. I would then assign the data to a specific abstract shape and use the numerical values to adjust its size and position. After generating multiple sets of shapes representing each day spent at the festival, I would use it as a unique personalised pattern on the souvenir.

Prior to making the data driven shapes I would need to collect personal data. After purchasing the toolkit the customer will be prompted to download a specialised application, which, given the importance of confidentiality when using personal data, will have a clear description of what the data will be used for as well as ask what kind of personal information the user wants to share. In addition, the UI would suggest that the more types of data the user chooses to share, the more detailed and sophisticated the final design would be.

I used Fusion 360 to process quantitative data and used the numerical values to adjust shapes and sizes of data driven patterns. The shapes are arranged in sets and positioned vertically on each side of the lampshade. Each set represents a weekday starting from Monday at the bottom and going up to Sunday at the top. For instance, the moon shape represents the amount of steps the user took each day, while the round shapes represent the amount of shows they have seen. The semi-star shapes represent the ratings. The more semi-stars appear around the show, the more enjoyable it was for the user.

In summary, this project encouraged me to combine handcrafting and digital fabrication as well as plan a complex user journey, involving many data collection and data processing steps. The ultimate goal of this souvenir is not only the aesthetic emission of light, but also the artistic expression of a memorable personal experience. This souvenir design can be compared to a tattoo, the meaning of which is visible only to its owner.

The Solas paper lampshade provides the user with a unique representation of a visual memento describing their journey. It reminds them of their trip to Edinburgh and also gives a pleasant feeling of an important contribution to a greener festival experience.