A fan of lumescence

This year’s Melbourne DesignEx (April 2011) introduced the Mystery Box Challenge featuring four young industrial designers including Cobalt participant, Andrew Beard. Each of the designers worked live within a glass booth designing and prototyping their ideas live in front of DesignEx visitors.

Our Brief

The open brief for the Challenge was to develop any bathroom product in just three days with only ten materials.

Andrew chose to develop a ceiling exhaust fan. Current ceiling fans are defined by function rather than form, resulting in a visual ‘non-identity’. Keeping the functional side, Andrew decided to create a more sensual, soft, organic surface form that turns a generic product into a desired sculptural art piece for the bathroom. We call it the LumescenceFan. Andrew cites inspiration from Zaha Hadid’s architectural forms, as well as free form and organic furniture including Mark Newson.

The Result

The product wasn’t meant to step too far away from conventional ceiling exhaust fans, the internal fan blades, motor and housing are essentially existing technology. The innovation comes through application of this known technology, meeting unmet user desires, and a focus on emotion and experience rather than function-driven expediency. Two examples of this design-led approach:

  • User experience: As exhaust fans are always located within bathrooms with existing functional lighting, the LumescenceFan uses lighting more sensually, enhancing the ambience of the room especially when low light is wanted (for example for middle of the night bathroom visits). A low-power LED source uses light pipes to either throw a halo effect on the bathroom ceiling or shine through the layered covers to reveal patterns not normally seen.
  • Construction: The LumescenceFan features layered construction to function both as an air-grille and as an integral sculptural element. The materials also allow for a more individual colour pallet, so the product can be customised in colour to fit a specific bathroom’s decor. The design incorporates a bamboo layer to add a soft, organic component, and reducing polymer based material usage.