After traveling to more than 100 coworking spaces in 2016, we realized one thing: coworking spaces act as a catalyst helping people in build great ideas and products. The story of today is a great illustration of how a coworking space can inspire and let you build everything.
We met Atilim, Community Lead at ATÖLYE (an Istanbul based interaction, and creativity platform) while attending a conference about collaboration in Belgrade. While there, he brought with him a sample of LIMINAL that people could try out and take selfie with. It obviously triggered us enough to start chatting in details about the project. We loved the idea so much that we decided to do an interview with Engin, the co-creator of LIMINAL and share it here with you all <3
👋 Engin and thanks for agreeing on doing an interview. Can you please tell us a bit more about your personal background?
“My name is Engin Ayaz, I am the co-founder and Design Director of ATÖLYE.”
“I am an architect, interaction designer, and engineer by training. For the last three years, I am leading design efforts at ATÖLYE, ranging from interfaces to products, from spaces to services. My trans-disciplinary background always pulls me into projects that require systems thinking and deep collaboration.”
How did the idea of LIMINAL came to life?
“Prior to LIMINAL, in 2013, we worked extensively on a dream recording lighting-sound device entitled Dreamcatcher. The idea was to create a physical-digital device that made it easier for one to voice record their dreams while monitoring their sleep quality, using light as the key feedback mechanism. This project came to a halt after eight months, as the hotel we were designing for stopped developing their building project. However, this project gave us the professional foundation and confidence regarding lighting devices.”
“Afterward, our architectural design process for ATÖLYE made us realize that there was a dire need for well-designed desk lamps in our space. Lighting simulations showed that we could consume less energy by lighting the desk surface more, and the ceiling less. However, when researching the market, we were stuck either with off-the-shelf Ikea lamps, kitsch, and shiny local designs or expensive import options. So, we decided to embark on our own journey. It started with Buşra and myself sitting down and determining our own brief for the project, which was simple: Let us make a flexible, minimalist lamp that was both ecologically sensitive in its consumption and socially sensitive in terms of its production methods. Everything unfolded afterward, where Buşra led the design and prototyping process, and where the community contributed to all strategic and technical points in the journey.”
What were the main challenges you encountered and how did you solve them?
“The process was long and painstaking, to say the least. Starting initially with a simple idea of a desk lamp made out of a single block of aluminum, we realized via need.finding that a more flexible structure was needed. Spending few months testing existing joints, we decided to create our own version, as existing joints were either inflexible in two directions, or were damaging the cabling within.
Working closely with craftsmen, we adopted existing materials, such as off-the-shelf steel balls and bolts, into a new combination. Ensuring that the tightness remained over time necessitated another month of research. Throughout, we worked closely with ATOLYE’s community, receiving input from various engineers as well as getting feedback on the design. Finally, we created a joint version that was robust, flexible and reliable.”
“In parallel track, we also investigated LED light diffusion properties. Seeking minimal depth, we tested more than a dozen filters to create a uniform light source. Other issues included testing wood as the structural option (overheating was an issue), exploring magnet systems for desk attachment (too limiting), and researching battery and touchpad systems. Following through this process over 12 months, we ensured that the lamp is both technically feasible and experientially pleasing. We are certain that when scaling up the production, we will face new challenges, but we have assembled a strong team to tackle them over time.”
How is LIMINAL different from other lamps?
“LIMINAL can be folded in different directions and provides many scenarios via its rotatable joints.”
It can fit in different kinds of spaces like home, office or restaurant, and to different surfaces, including desks and walls. As well as allowing different usage scenarios, LIMINAL blends in with its environment to take on an appearance of invisibility. The products’ aesthetic qualities make strong references to a pattern language of simplicity and minimalism. The project was also manufactured in partnership with local artisans in close vicinity of our design studio, which enabled the coupling of deep expertise with user-centered innovation.
This enabled the product’s rapid iteration towards a solution that has technical innovations, such as its patent-pending joint system.”
I know you started the project out of ATOLYE, how did the coworking space help you build all project?
“At ATÖLYE, we’ve been curating a community of designers, technologists, social scientists and innovative startups to collaborate on interdisciplinary projects that can create long-term value.”
“Located in bomontiada, Istanbul’s new cultural hub, we designed ATÖLYE to foster interactions and projects among the members of our interdisciplinary community.
LIMINAL is one of the products that was born through this culture of inspiration and collaboration. The product was realized through a transdisciplinary team, which combined skill sets in fields that range from graphics to electronics, from user experience to materials.”
Why did you decide to be on Kickstarter?
“We believe that Kickstarter was the right platform for our product, because we wanted to showcase our product not just locally, but on an international scale.
Kickstarter is not just about receiving funds, but also great for receiving valuable feedback on projects. Kickstarter brings together a community that values technology, design, and innovation. We saw that our product was a great fit as it is placed at the interception of what this community seeks.”
How can people help you making LIMINAL happen?
“We are currently in the final two weeks of our Kickstarter campaign, so we would appreciate all kinds of support. Contributions of all scales, including sharing on social media, supporting us, or simply mentioning it to people in your network, would help us get one step closer to bringing LIMINAL to life.”
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