Lighting design with Brunel University

Lighting design with Brunel University

Working with the next generation of design talent has always been a priority at Tala. Supporting these bright minds helps them bridge the gap between their studies and the professional world, whilst the Tala team benefit from working with the fresh ideas and unique perspectives that come from students at forward-thinking institutions.

This year, we had the pleasure of working with four students studying Integrated Product Design Msc at Brunel University. Whilst a broad range of research methods, approaches and topics were explored, the final projects all shared a common theme:

How do we use lighting design and its intersection with technology and materials to gain a better understanding of its relationship with our health, wellbeing and social interactions with one another?

To learn more, read the summaries of the projects below.

Zoe Stark – The Role of Lighting in Wellbeing

Our lighting environment has an extensive impact on our wellbeing, affecting our mood, alertness and physical health. The most significant influence is through our Circadian Rhythms, which control our sleep-wake cycles throughout the day. These are regulated by the changes in light intensity and colour found in natural daylight across a 24-hour period. We are most sensitive to the light in the blue spectrum, which suppresses our sleep hormone, Melatonin. However, these rhythms are now being disrupted through the increased use of artificial light and device screens that keep us up at night and do not fully wake us in the mornings. Through my collaboration with Tala, I have developed a luminaire that better replicates the natural fluctuations in daylight, providing bright light in the morning, incorporating blue wavelengths to encourage alertness throughout the day. The light can then be dimmed by turning the lamp to reduce the brightness and eliminate the blue light to support restfulness and sleep in the evenings through a dim, warm toned glow.

Xiaoxuan Li – Designing natural-like light with multi-material 3D printing

This project explores the various ways that additive manufacturing technologies can be incorporated into lighting design. Inspired by warm, amber-like colour temperatures that are more appropriate for ambient settings, the focus of the final design concept is its complex filament design that can be encased in lampshades made from a variety of different printable materials. Simplicity and functionality are fundamental to this design, however key features are its ability to change colour temperature and adjust the brightness to suit a variety of different settings. The result is a lamp with a smooth exterior, hollow interior and undulating tactile surface that can be printed by integrated additive manufacturing technologies.

Xiaojun Chen – The role of lighting in facilitating social interaction to improve wellbeing

The aim of this project was to design a luminaire that can enhance social interaction and improve wellbeing by the light emitted. Through my extensive literature review and primary research (in the form of interviews and a social experiment) I found that low light levels of warm, diffused light were able to promote relaxation, confidence, creativity, concentration, self-disclosure and even attractiveness.

The final design concept is an elegant campfire shaped lamp called “Wild Story”, designed for customers in high-end hospitalities. The concept was inspired the fact that people prefer socialising after dark due to our human evolutionary background from hunter-gather society, where a large portion of our ancestor’s social activity was spent gathered around campfires. To activate the lamp, uses are encouraged to place their mobile phones beneath the ‘fire’. This triggers the integrated weight sensor, which adjusts the light levels to a more suitable illumination level when more weight is placed on it, resulting in an improved ambience that can help to promote social interaction.

Tea Taneski – The role of biophillia and biomimicry in lighting design

The overall design is a multi-modal haptic lamp that produces a warm light that can relax the user whilst promoting social interaction with others. The design is simple and playful and invites the user to interact with the object in a familiar way, similar to rotating a globe. The materials used are all true to their origins and enhance user’s connection to nature. An added benefit is the warm light that is enhanced by the reflection from the wooden surface of the shade.

During the day, the lamp is designed to be used as task light, for activities such as reading, writing and cooking, and promotes the interaction with the environment while all of the “petals” are open. By rotating the ‘petals’, the user partially covers the light source, illuminating the room with a low level, ambient light. The light emitted in this configuration is designed to mimic the warm evening light at the time of the day when people interact the most, which follows our circadian rhythms and enhances our ability to socialise and bond with each other.

Tala’s co-founder Josh Ward comments: ‘In many ways our collaboration with Brunel is an extension of our own university experience in Edinburgh. Through this, we were able to gain crucial, first-hand experience in industry and it’s something we never want to lose touch with. By supporting the student’s ambitions after their studies, we hope to impart valuable knowledge in the realities of bringing product to market.

We have found it incredibly refreshing to work with such talented students. They don’t shy away from big ideas and creatively ambitious designs. This reminds us to keep challenging ourselves.’