Firefly stool

By Ingrid Fetell Lee

Well, I’m back! And I must say, I have really missed my daily posts. On Friday, I presented the masters thesis portion of Aesthetics of Joy — the theory as well as ten furniture concepts and a designer’s toolkit for creating joy. Over the coming weeks I want to share some of these ideas, as well as revel in some of the holiday joy I’ve missed while I’ve been in thesis isolation.

This video shows one of my furniture concepts. It’s a stool based on the idea of a firefly lantern. I could imagine a bunch of these scattered around a garden restaurant or bar, gently lighting up the night. The lights are LEDs driven by an Arduino board, programmed to pulse randomly using a sine wave function. Getting the lights to look like fireflies was no mean feat, and required a lot of fine tuning of the code. Fortunately, my electronics professor Liubo Borissov was extremely generous with his time in helping me get this going.

The inspiration for the stool is the magic aesthetic, which has to do with joy from things that seem uncanny, implausible, or impossible. Magic is about the apparent defiance of ordinary laws of nature, and for me bioluminescence has always been a conduit to that strange and wonderful magic.

December 14th, 2009

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