Arttu-Matti Immonen / Kyoto Institute of Technology
It is a joyful product. It would nicely defuse the light. I can see it being produced by a company. – Defne Koz
The Lumiru project is my graduation work for the Master studies conducted in Kyoto Institute of Technology. The project in itself is a study of my own background and how it reflects in me as a designer. I am a Finnish designer living in Japan, so in this project I wished to find some way to use my heritage as a catalyst when looking for new solutions in the field of product design.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Unlike most of the projects I did during my time as a student, in the Lumiru project I didn’t really have any concrete problems I had observed in daily life. The project was more about self expression and trying to create something that would depict me as a designer. As I set out to find for hints and inspiration from my own roots, I quickly noticed snow to be the element I wanted to somehow mimic or portray. Of course starting a design process from this kind of a vague image without any concrete output in mind the flow of work is bound to be a bit unorganized. I wanted to create something where the design factor would speak for itself, where something familiar has changed to something unexpected. I wanted to find a product category in which the design factor included is always based on functionality rather than the emotional side. By choosing inexpensive products such as floor fans as the base, I believe I was able to see the advantages of emotional design as the work progressed.
The challenge I posed to myself was to find a way to design an electric fan that would work as a mood changer rather than a cooling unit per say.
I set out to create a more humane version of household electronics. The current markets of such products are crowded with designs that are based on the concept of expressing power. For example in the selected product category of inexpensive electric fans, the feel of the products is plastic and the aesthetics of them support this. I set out to find design hints from an element close to me, snow, and search for softer ways of representing the cooling effect of air circulators. What I wanted to achieve was not to make as strong wind as possible to cool people down, I rather opted for a more subtle way of changing the atmosphere of a space. Of course the actual function of cooling is a necessity and thus I searched around internet and tested in my own apartment during the hottest months of Japanese summer. Although I wasn’t able to bring any hard scientific evidence to the table, I felt and understood that indirect airflow can be in the long run as cooling as a direct one.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
As my objective was to remold the image of cheaper household electronics away from the plastic image to a more humane one based on my own experiences a lot of the design work was very subjective. The core of the whole product to be was the aesthetics of it and the environment around it. I chose to drift away from the all-plastic feel of the existing products of the same range and decided to test possible additional functions with simple prototypes. As I wanted to create something that would change the atmosphere of a space, I soon opted to opt for some sort of mobile-type of design with some added lighting functions.
The reason the product in question became a lighting+electric fan is quite obvious and simple. Because the concept was based on snow, I wanted to somehow depict the key elements of it. The way snow changes our surroundings by providing additional light creating shelter and insulating is interesting to say the least. However how can that be translated to an interior element?
I felt that even if I wanted to bring to life a product concept that would not look exactly conventional, it would have to keep the main characteristics of the existing products – the price. I didn’t want the Lumiru to become too expensive material-wise, but rather opted to reach for the high end feel with clever design solutions.
Lumiru wasn’t exactly designed with any sort of truly big picture in mind. In essence the product is meant to help consumers change way we see lower end consumer electronics. They don’t always have to look strictly as functional as possible sacrificing aesthetics in order to compete with their higher end peers. As designers we should be able to challenge the existing norms especially in the field of cheaper home electronics and try to offer something that has the potential to touch people while keeping the functionality. If I was able to awake these kind of thoughts in anyone seeing the Lumiru, I believe my work as a designer has had a purpose in this project.