The Mechanism

In this project I used a tilt switch and a LED light bulb to create a lighting engine that featured an on/off state. Using the nature of the tilt switch mechanism, I iterated on different movements that would create a both effective and intriguing an on/off motion. Push/pull, pull/release, twist, turn, squeeze; these were all motions I used to guide me through an iterative process. Using sketching and quick prototyping I was most Inspired by reflected light and a push/pull motion; I started iterating more intentionally on a lighting engine that would reflect light off a surface and was turned on and off by sliding a piece of the light in and out. By the tilt switch’s nature, I was only able to accomplish this push/pull motion by creating an internal piece that moved around an axis. Affixing the tilt switch to the piece, then using friction between that piece and the sliding part, the light turned on when pulled out and turned off when slid back in.

The Form

Once I was satisfied with the main shape and movement of the light, I had to iterate further on the smaller, but still  important aspects of the light. While the mechanism helped define the general shape and needs for the light to function, the form still needed to be designed in a logical way.  For example the steepness of my defining shape, the width and height of the form, and the space needed for the moving mechanism within. I used a slanted, sliding piece as a guiding form for my entire lighting engine. This sliding piece was designed to be comfortable to grasp and easy to move. Throughout my iterative process, I was also drawn to square-like objects, thus, moving off of that and using the sliding piece as recurring inspiration, the main form of the light is slightly slanted as well.


This lighting engines project was all about iterations and learning how to thoughtfully journey through the design process. Coming into my first year at Carnegie Mellon University, I struggled to iterate on my different ideas because of bad craft, fear of a “bad idea”, or my immediate want to just choose an idea and run with it. Through this project, I learned to be mindful of how to iterate. Using good craft always, even on  your first or second prototype, or being open to ideas, even if they seem like they may not work in a mechanical sense were important lessons I learned through this project. This particular project also encouraged me to explore a wide breadth of ideas, but at the end of the day to hone in on one idea. Though the “ideating” process is an important one, it is also just as important to stop, choose a design, and refine upon that design.


more process here


Design Approach