Designed for Delight

Exploring surprising applications of 3D printing in lighting design

Date: Master of Design Innovation 2015/2016
Student Name Sebastian Voerman

Surprise can be a very useful aspect that designers can incorporate into the design of their products, as it has the potential to elevate a product beyond the mundane and into the memorable. Researchers have identified the employment of surprise in various products as an expression of visual-tactile incongruities (VTIs); where the viewer’s initial visual appraisal and subsequent tactile verification fail to line up, and developed strategies around how to use them. 3D printing has qualities and capabilities that traditional manufacturing cannot achieve. There is an opportunity for select 3D printing technologies to augment the potential of these strategies as well as suggest new approaches to generating surprise in product design.

This project investigates, critiques and questions existing strategies to elicit surprise through designing and producing 3D printed experiments. These physical experiments  initially use Ludden’s strategies as starting points for prototyping, and follow an iterative research through design process in order to challenge and develop Ludden’s strategies. The experiments reveal tactile interactions that could be applied to the design of lighting controls. The resultant interactions form the design foundations of several lights that were built and tested with participants through observation, questionnaires based around the Geneva Emotion Wheel and semi-structured interviews.


The utilisation and application of 3D printing in this manner seeks to generate new knowledge and possibilities in the area of surprise and tactile interactions  with electronic objects. The results of this research suggest new strategies of how to apply 3D printing to elicit surprise that current literature has not put forward. The strategies are evidenced through iterative physical experiments and the final designs of interactive lamps. Check out the video for a description of how these lights incorporate visual-tactile incongruities thanks to the qualities of multi-material 3D printing, which allows us to print soft and hard materials within the same object.

Designer: Sebastien Voerman

Creative Director and supervisor: Edgar Rodriguez