Now you see it.
Now you don't.

HOUDINI — VISUAL SUBTLETY IN LUMINAIRES


Inspired by the photon’s wave-particle duality, the project explores the development of a lamp that conceals its functionality behind the mask of its decorative nature. The adoption of these multiple identities allowed for the creation of a product that could be introduced into an environment under the facade of a static ornament, only to reveal its true nature when required.

INSPIRATION FROM HUMAN HISTORY


Symbolically, vases (and by extension, the pot and jar) have been regarded as functional and decorative objects for centuries; revered as a spiritual and storytelling medium for certain cultures, or acting as aesthetic signifiers of wealth and status. In modern society, it isn't uncommon to find them in a typical household, be it for visual appeal or a practical purpose - the beauty being in their universal commonality.

The project draws inspiration from this already established identity, and how it has persevered from its millennia-old conception to build its familiarity on a global scale, across all cultures. In essence, Houdini bases itself upon this iconic character, and attempts to enhance the functional characteristics by demonstrating the possibility for a fundamentally different practical application.

DEFINING A VISUAL IDENTITY


It was decided that inspiration for the shape would be taken from the Memphis Group and Cubist Movement, with a design that featured hard, jagged geometric forms. While a myriad of designs could have been adapted to create the lamp’s form, the pursued direction was motivated by the combination of a personal design preference, and the desire to create an object with a bold, maverick identity.

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DEVELOPING THE FUNCTIONAL STRUCTURE


The Internal Mechanism focusses on the creation of a system that allows for the bulb to be smoothly extracted and retracted, and by extension, use the motion to behave as a power switch. The mechanism uses magnetic contacts to make (and break) the electrical circuit, causing an extracted bulb to complete the circuit and light-up, with a retracted bulb breaking the connection and turning off.

FREE TALK AND CLOSING REMARKS


There is a certain beauty in seeing objects coming together to present a sense of unity, and when working on this project, the intention was to develop a product that could become seamlessly integrated within its environment: the task being the creation of a lamp that wasn't visibly a lamp.

It may sound counterintuitive, but the logic is that while all luminaries are designed to be visually pleasing, they are still inherently 'lamps' which really assigns a standardised label to their whole identity, limiting them from ever truly becoming 'one with the room'. The diversion from the idea of what a luminaire "should be" allowed for the creation of a more fluid product that sits outside the tag of normality.