The Lighting Machine Project – “Happy Umbrella” at KTH


Our class just finished the first module of study and our first major lighting project here at Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan in Sweden.  Our first module of classes has just finished – an introduction of sorts to the world of light and lighting and a good way to bring everyone in the program to a level playing ground, so to speak.  There is a huge range of backgrounds in our class, and the instructors have done  a great job providing information to level the field.

The first project, called the Lighting Machine project, was the culmination of a week-long seminar on working with Dutch designer Willem Van Der Sluis.  Willem was in residence with us for a week, mentoring us through this project along with faculty professor Diana Joels.  Willem gave us a great lecture on working with light and an in-depth look into a few of his projects.  I’ll be chronicling some of Willem’s work in a post later this week.

The basic principles of Lighting Machine was that each group was to create a full-scale lighting machine that focused on the distribution of light rather than on the beauty and form of the machine itself.  We were to analyze our campus building for places we felt had illumination problems, and create this lighting machine to aid in the solution of this problem.  I created a video to describe our project and problem, but we took a positive outlook on the “problem.”  On the lowest level of our building there is a hallway full of patio umbrellas that are lit with low temperature (around 2700 degrees Kelvin) fluorescent lighting.  It’s a place where people hang out all day at different times during the day, and we sought to make it more happy.  Hence, our group and lighting machine was called “Happy Umbrella.”  Check out a few pictures of the space and of the building:



Lighting Machine was an interesting project on many levels.  First, we were assigned into groups of four people, each with a different background – architecture, interior design, lighting design, electrical engineering, you name it.  The program is being administered in English, but there is a wide variety of comprehension of the English language.  The language barrier makes communication interesting.  Drawings and sketches – visual communication – sometimes take the place of verbal communication in these situations.  We chose a handful of locations with what we perceived as problems, and came to a consensus as to which project we all liked – which ended up being the umbrella location project.  In the creation of the lighting machine, we were also given the choice of two light sources – a 50W T5 circular fluorescent, or a 40W halogen PAR20.  We chose to use both.

A long story short, we decided to provide the location with a feel of nature – the umbrella representative of a tree with a pattern, and the table with better illumination and contrast, as the overhead fluorescents provided next to none.  We invented an optical projector with a homemade template out of miscellaneous pieces and parts of reflectors and lenses, and a wash-type unit from the fluorescent.  Happy Umbrella also incorporated both the umbrella and the table as part of the product.

I’ve embedded two videos below – the first is an overview of the project (about seven minutes long), and the second is a quick explanation of the projector for the class.  These videos were something I made for the heck of it, just for the blog.  I did use the projector explanation video in the presentation of the Lighting Machine as a way to help explain how a projector works.

Project Overview:

Projector Explanation Video:

Happy Umbrella from below:


I Live in A Dorm.

Yeah, I live in a dorm right now.  Is this a huge deal?  Is this really worth a post?  Perhaps not, depending on who you are.  But – since this is my blog, and I am trying to document my entire trip, I figured that some pictures of my living arrangements might be in order.  You see, it’s been a decade since I lived in a dormitory, and I live in a dormitory in Sweden – two things I’ve not done at least in this decade.

Swedish dorm living (at least where I am) is like living in a communal apartment – rooms, two bathrooms, two showers, and a freaking sauna!

Check out some images of Dalarovagen 33 – my home away from home for the next ten months: