Nº 257

Light into the darkness

Light is essential to our visual perception and has a direct impact on well-being and the body’s own biorhythm. By the same token, lack of light, whether at night or in the winter months when sunlight is in short supply, is detrimental to both physical health and our feeling of security. The following selection of projects shows how the darkness can be dispelled to remedy this.




Inspired by standard reflective vests and an internship in Sweden, where in some places the sun shines for as little as two hours a day in winter, Marlies Schets developed Seen, a series of wearables that turns everyday objects into reflective safety equipment. Her aim was to incorporate textile elements that look like any other fabrics by day but which shine back brightly when illuminated by artificial light at night. Cycling or walking in the dark, she reasoned, would then become both safer and more attractive. Schets herself developed the weave of the scarf, which is available in several different colours and has retro-reflective yarn woven into it. She wove the first test pieces by hand, but had the final product made by the Dutch textile manufacturer Raymakers. The material for the rucksack has two layers: a reflective layer underneath and a waterproof textile with various patterns lasered out of it on top. The third product, a sheath for a bicycle lock, is available in both the aforementioned textiles. Schets would like to supplement the prototypes created for her degree project at the Design Academy Eindhoven with a jacket and other products so as to have a whole series ready for commercial production.




Lack of sunlight in winter is known to influence mood, in extreme cases causing people to sleep more, have more appetite and become apathetic – symptoms now classed as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter depression. Determined to address this problem, the Finnish company Valkee based in Oulu developed a mobile phototherapy unit as an alternative to the more widespread light boxes. Premised on the hypothesis that light-sensitive parts of the brain respond positively to irradiation, Valkee's LED headset shines beams of bright light of 10,000 lux through the ear canal and onto the relevant parts of the brain. Studies conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Oulu show that the method can relieve symptoms of SAD and improve cognitive performance. A revised form of the headset was launched in 2013 and according to the manufacturers need only be worn for as little as twelve minutes a day to have the desired effect. The rechargeable battery thus has capacity for up to twelve applications. To maximise mobility as one of the development’s salient advantages, Valkee is now working on a phototherapy method that works via the user’s own mobile phone.

Smart Highway



Light is “our universal language” says Daan Roosegaarde of the principal medium of his interactive projects. Working at the interface of art and design, vision and pragmatism, Roosegaarde is committed to the creation of smart, socially cohesive and energy-neutral cities. Smart Highway is thus a long-term project dedicated to the intelligent design of (future) highways. Adaptable, luminescent roads, sensor-controlled street lighting, road markings that respond to changes in the weather and temperature, and inductive asphalt for electric cars are among the ideas that he has been exploring. His Glowing Lines concept developed in collaboration with the building contractor Heijmans, for example, was installed on a stretch of road near the town of Oss in the Netherlands in November of this year. The Glowing Lines absorb energy during the day and then discharge it again at night in the form of light, rendering the road independent of any additional light sources. In addition to the highway, and inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, a cycle path near Eindhoven has also been fitted 2 with light-emitting paving stones.


Nº 272

form Design Magazine

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Die Kunst mit dem Zeichen

Museum für Konkrete Kunst, Ingolstadt

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form Edition #2

Photograph by
Gerhardt Kellermann

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Design gegen und für
Gimme Shelter



Ein Produkt französischer Fantasie
Jacques Tati as design critic