Exploring new materials for design

The Flipshade is my graduation project at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering of the Delft University of Technology, with which I concluded my master Integrated Product Design.

The project focussed on exploring flexible electroluminescent material, a layered material that can be applied by screen printing. Electroluminescence is the generation of light from a phosphor material when an electric field is applied. In this project I focussed on applying this material on a flexible surface, determining opportunities and limitations and exploring possible applications.

The project was roughly divided in three phases, starting with an analysis on electroluminescence, resulting in eight design handles that can serve as a starting point for ideation as well as an evaluation tool. A conceptual phase lead to the concept of the Flipshade, a lighting concept embodying electroluminescence on the surface of a lamp shade. The material is flexible, thus enabling the flipping of the shade inside out and providing the user to have either light on the outside or the inside. This concept was designed to communicate the values of flexible electroluminescence to (product) designers, based on the notion that when a technology’s potential is novel to its users, they may not be able to imagine how it would appear on a product.

Screen printing with electroluminescence

The powdered electroluminescence I was working with consists of a layered structure. Each layer has a different function, and each function can be integrated in an ink. Therefore it was possible to apply the different layers by screen printing, and allowed for an extensive testing phase. This explorative design phase provided me with information on processability, different substrates and the possibilities of having a flexible light surface.

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