Design, Build and Installations
Designer and builder
MST Photo Essays

Si-Huis Luki
Light 2015
“As far as we can discern, the soul purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being” - Carl Jung

SI-Huis Luki Light, switched off, illuminated by Si-Huis Crane Lamp with strobe. Unretouched image

For our Vera system, we use high-temperature rated polyester film for the diffuser-heads. We die-cut them (‘cookie-cutter’ them, to the uninitiated) to create the shape, score lines, and to punch the holes in the right places. After a few years of producing the Vera system, I became very familiar with the various light diffusing films and their properties. Like any subject, there is as much depth as we are willing to delve into; as we become increasingly more familiar with a material, we begin to better understand its capabilities, stress points, and tendencies, and in this case, also their light diffusing properties; light transmittance, and refraction.

SI-Huis Luki Light, switched off, illuminated by Si-Huis Crane Lamp with strobe. Unretouched image

It just so happens that one of the rolls of film we use, is only available in 48" width. This by itself is not remarkable, but in this case, it is an unusually markable point from which the production of this lampshade can be traced. The Vera lamp only requires a 36"x36" sheet of polyester film, and the extra 12" would have to be paid for, whether I used it or not. “There’s no way I’m throwing that away.” I said to Vera, my wife. “I could use it to print the instructions maybe. Or maybe, I could even make a small lamp. It would look like a family-member of our Vera system, since it’ll be made of the same material.”

SI-Huis Luki Light, switched on, illuminated by Si-Huis Crane Lamp with strobe. Unretouched image

In fact, this lamp requires exactly the amount of film leftover from one Vera lamp: 12"x36", or three sq ft of film. While designing the lamp, I found it challenging to achieve the result that I believed was possible; I knew that if I produced a simple tube with a locking system, that the film would naturally want to assume the shape of a perfect cylinder; the concept was simple. The more difficult part was designing a configuration which would allow forces to be placed on the film without altering its perfectly cylindrical shape, just as the lightest of forces will distort an otherwise perfectly speherical soap bubble.

SI-Huis Luki Light, switched off, illuminated by Si-Huis Crane Lamp with strobe. Unretouched image

In the process of designing the lamp so that it maintained its perfectly cylindrical shape all of the time, I produced various hard parts, including plastic discs using a 3D printer, intended to be replaced by laser-cut and anodized aluminum. Aluminum would both reflect light and dissipate heat, as well as maintain its shape. Aluminum is an efficient heat sink; hard disk drives that are made of aluminum often do not require fans. It is temperature rated to 302°F which is ample for contact with any domestic lightbulb. However, this particular polyester film has an even more impressive temperature rating of up to 466°F.

SI-Huis Luki Light, switched on (dimmed), illuminated by itself. Unretouched image

The cost of laser-cutting and anodizing the aluminum almost tripled the projected retail value of the lamp. On top of that, it seemed a little like ‘brute-force’ engineering. It was clear that if I eliminated the hard parts of the lamp, then I could offer a lamp that was far more efficient as well as at a far lower cost. It would be made of a single material, in common with paper-clips, staples, and ubiquitous Monobloc chairs. I designed a system of micro-connectors, as part of a configuration which exerts no lateral force on the film, allowing it to ‘relax,’ shifting into its most energy efficient configuration. It does not require any metal, plastic, or wooden parts to maintain its position or shape; it is perhaps the world’s first 100% ‘paper’ lantern.

Michael Simon Toon