The Hyphae Lamp is a new series of algorithmically generated lighting designs by Nervous System. Each lamp is individually grown through a process based on leaf vein formation. No two lamps are alike. Each casts a unique pattern of branching shadows on the wall and ceiling, creating an ethereal and organic atmosphere. The lamps are 3D-printed to order in nylon and illuminated with eco-friendly LED lights. The first 10 lamps in the series are now available for purchase.
GROWTH PROCESS VIDEO
video not showing up? watch it on Vimeo.com here: Hyphae Lamps. Special thanks to Graham Woolley / scion eidolon for creating the music.
The veins of leaves are intricate structures that function both to distribute resources and reinforce strength. Though it appears all vein patterns have the same overall organization and hierarchy, no two leaves have the same vein structure. Rather each leaf has its own peculiarities emerging from its unique circumstances. Across species the patterns differ drastically; they can be radial like a lilypad, parallel like a blade of grass or reticulate like a tomatillo husk. How can one mechanism explain such variety?
Our Hyphae collection was inspired by scientific research into this question; how do leaf veins form? Why do they differ from leaf to leaf, plant to plant? A theory called ‘Auxin Flux Canalization’ explains venation as the result of the movement of the growth hormone auxin. A feedback mechanism makes it easier for auxin to flow where it has flowed before and cells with high levels of auxin differentiate into vein cells. Our simulation is based on the work by Adam Runions of the Algorithmic Botany group at the University of Calgary, who devised a process based on the auxin flux canalization theory.
video not showing up? watch it on Vimeo.com here: Hyphae – growth process diagram in 2D
We translated this system to 3D to generate physical objects. A technical explanation of some aspects of the system can be found here.
The lamps are grown in custom design software we created in C++ using CGAL and Cinder. The branching network evokes leaves, coral, and roots without precisely replicating any natural form. Each lamp starts from a base volume and a set of root points; the lamp’s structure emerges through an iterative process as the roots grow into an auxin filled environment. The system is optimized to produce designs for manufacturing by Selective Laser Sintering. They capitalize both on 3d-printing’s ability to create complex organic forms but also to create all unique products as there are no costs for tooling and no need for molds. The pieces are 3d-printed by the NYC-based service Shapeways. The 3D-printing process minimizes waste, using only the material in the final form. Each lamp is fabricated on demand.
The lamps are the latest designs to join our Hyphae collection which also includes 3d-printed jewelry designs launched earlier in the year.
The lamps are lit by a set of 3 Cree LEDs, using a total of only 3.6W of electricity. The estimated lifetime of the light is over 50,000 hours or almost 6 years of continuous use.