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Parsons School of Design MFA Lighting Design program theses1992 (PC020404.02) ➔ Designing with Existing Objects: Environmentally Sensitive Decorative Luminaires


Related people/organizations

Virva Kokkonen (designer)
Sy Mayerson (thesis advisor)
Peter Stathis (thesis advisor)
Mark Rudiger (thesis advisor)




The overall aim of this study is to introduce environmentally sensitive lighting fixture design; a design which utilizes existing objects that can result in effective and aesthetic decorative luminaires.

Through my research I have learned that when designing with existing objects there are two basic variables which greatly affect the appearance and function of the final product. The most significant of the two is the wat designer chooses to approach her work, how she sees herself and her work in relation to design and art. The second variable is the meaning of the material to the designer.

When creating decorative luminaires from existing objects a designer can choose from three design approaches. If she chooses to think of herself as an artist, the products she creates are called art (or sculpture) that have primarily an aesthetic function. She can also choose to call herself a Functional Artist, and her products can be called sculpture with a specific function she assigns to them.

Often the appearance of Functional Art is nontraditional from the design point of view. It is upon the observer to decide into which category a piece belongs to: is it sculpture or a piece of furniture. If she sees herself as a designer, her working methods can differ from the two previous categories significantly and the end product is effective in its practical as well as aesthetic functions. My approach to this study is from a designer’s point of view although the other two approaches are discussed to clarify their differences.

The designer may have several reasons for using existing objects in her design. I have discovered that the environmental reasons are typically not the most important ones. Although other alternative motives are introduced, the environmental aspects of using existing objects in design are the main motivation in this study.



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