Solar Lace

Earlier I criticized Vana design’s lighting installations (partly because the called them “topiary”, which is misleading).

Writing in Solar Today, Maureen McIntyre talks about a similar project that looks the same but I like it a lot more.

From London-based (“Space Crafting: We cross design, architecture and the sciences to craft space, technology and living matter into speculative futures”. ), “Sonumbra” is built from  “fibre-based technologies from photovoltaics to low power lighting”.

Strands of light are laced into huge parasols with the potential to offer shelter from the sun by day and shed light for a local community at night using energy collected from solar cells embedded in its canopy.

This group have done other projects focusing on electro-luminescent fibers which, in principle, can be linked to photovoltaics.

A particularly striking work is the Kensington Archilace The sonic interaction isn’t that exciting or new, but the design was “hand woven by a skilled team of London lacemakers”! Which is why it looks so cool!

“A large animated textile”. Cool!

But this looks an awful lot like the works by Vana that I didn’t like.  So what’s the difference?

Vana (-)   vs.

Archilace (+)


First of all, the materials are interesting, not just the design. The lighting effects are from the electro-luminescent wires, not from theatrical back lighting. And connecting the low power lighting to photovoltaics is really cool. (I wish the Kensington piece was Sun powered, and I’d like to see a lot more low power solar lighting deployed.)

So–full marks for technical coolness.

The interactive animation itself does little for me in either case. It’s not especially pretty or interesting, and generally commands attention to things I don’t want to attend to (such has people moving in the space). I generally avoid spaces with this kind of annoying stuff going on. (Though it is better than ubiquitous TVs.)

No points awarded for the ambient interaction.

As far as the design, I think my own tastes prefer the hand made lacework (hundreds of hours of human effort!) rather than computer generated geometries (hundreds of hours of computer time?). Not only do I like to have humans employed making beautiful things, I just like the hand made patterns better than the computer generated grids.

In short, I like their style. So sue me.

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