The Kowtowing Lamp

An exploration into products that have personality.


As an object, the Kowtowing Lamp functions as both light source and a data visualization device. We decided not to specify the information displayed, imagining instead that people could map data sets of their choosing to the lamp’s behavior via an API. As for personality, we think The Kowtowing Lamp nicely highlights the fact that how things communicate is often just as important as what they communicate.


At first the lamp appeared to ‘breathe’ as the bottom portion contracted, forcing the wooden strips to expand. But further into our exploration, we decided instead of breathing, it rather bowed towards us, the creators.




The lamp is made almost entirely of plywood. The top-most part is a single sheet made flexible and mat-like by laser cutting a special pattern. This pattern allowed us to wrap the sheet of wood into a cylinder, creating a shade. The lower portion is made of flat strips of plywood. As with the upper part, these are flexible and can bend outward, allowing light to escape. LED panels and chains were installed in both the top and bottom portions, and diffused with translucent paper and fabric. These lights, along with the servo motor that compresses the lower part by tightening a spool of wire, are wired to an external Arduino micro controller.




Read more about our process at our CIID page.

Collaborators:  Sara Krugman, Rohit Sharma, Andrew Stock

Special Thanks: Massimo Banzi and David Cuartielles


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