Who are we?

We are students of the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University.
This is our final year "Capstone" project.

Team members:
Henry Lin
Maxine Kim
Sarah Fung
Billy Cheng
Zac Bush


The design of this project is to explore an interactive origami light that transforms its shape in the user’s hand and creates light patterns depending on the form.  It aims to create a playful, poetic interface that evokes user creativity through interaction. Recently, a growing number of designers and researchers have been delving into new flexible, organic interfaces that invite users into the ubiquitous computing world with an intuitive and sensory-rich experience. Our Capstone project, Tessella, an interactive origami light, explores key themes of current organic user interface research. First, input and output are integrated in one. Second, the form implies its function. Thirdly, it allows the user to discover its affordances and uses. Tessella is arranged as a matrix of light and sensors on a flexible tessellated structure.

Origami is defined for us as the “transformation of a single sheet of fabric from a one dimensional material into a three dimensional material with additional physical characteristics”. The folds are important to consider for how we’ll create internal pressure and tension and then further incorporate electricity. Origami and tessellation patterns are investigated to see how the knowledge of paper craft can be transferred into another dimension of materials such as fabric and silicon.

To define an interface within the scope of our project: It is the exploration of the pathway between people to object interaction and object to object interaction. The flexible organic light, in our case, is the interface connecting the users to whatever application they can think of.

The latter part of this project is to take the knowledge learned from our exploratory process and apply it to a prototype for users to explore forms of their own and apply the knowledge of their work field and expertise. Essentially, we are developing a research tool that can be applied to many fields of use.

The Beginning

Our initial theme is lighting design. We made a lot of observations and had extensive brainstorming on how we might work within this realm. After few weeks of discussion, we wanted to design a light with human characteristics. However, we found that the interaction and the opportunity to redesign a lamp as a capstone project may be limiting. We needed something more that would provide an extensive and unique experience for our users on a larger scale, so up until the midterm we were leaning towards making a lighting installation.

We first started with form sketches for our project but discovered that it was not enough because our focus was on the interactive experience that our installation affords. Drawing was a limited medium so we had to actually build our sketches in 3D space via means of paper prototyping. The limitations of paper as form-making material offer a challenge but through playful investigation will result in different and interesting tangible models that might offer possibilities and opportunities in both interaction and function.

From our sketches, we discovered that certain forms afford various qualities of motion that users can interact with to display unique lighting effects. Therefore, we decided to do experience prototyping with paper folding (3D sketching). We're still sketching from our initial concept of an interactive lighting experience but our models can quickly tangent towards other directions to explore different limitations and possibilities. A paper model will also help us think about other material possibilities if we reach a roadblock in our form.

A hands-on manipulation approach is probably a good way to discover properties of a material – allowing behaviours to be discovered and exploited from the generated forms. These forms have led us to the conclusion that our project could be not just an installation, but actually a product or a family of products.


Paper prototyping also offers us a visualization of the form. Although the production time may take longer, the form offers different types of behaviour and motion. Prototyping the entire project is impossible; instead we decided to focus on prototyping sections or small-scale versions. Specific elements in our project are motion, light, and sound. We want to explore the novelty and the quality of the experience that we could perhaps bring to our audiences. What might be intriguing and improve the quality of interaction? This will be our on-going process with our users and help us develop a concrete area to construct in.