Random International: let there be light

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Royal College of Art grads Florian Ortkrass, Stuart Wood and Hannes Koch started U.K. design and creative technology consultancy Random International in 2002, and, though the Random name may sound a touch unscientific, they've since won honors with impressively tech-intensive names like the Creative Futures Award and the Garrard Innovation Award. Then again, Random's projects sound downright Philip K. Dickian. A partial list would include: the Wallpaper Clock; Instant Labeling Tape; LightRoller; PixelRoller; PixelTape; PixelPen; and the Sunlight Table.

The Sunlight Table, just as it implies, "brings natural light into workspaces and creates unspoken, ambient interactions while working, " explain the Randoms. "It encourages a dialogue between work and nature and re-establishes a connection with the outside world." The table is "populated with optical fibers creating a 'sunlight display grid' on its surface. The fibers are connected to a second input grid placed on a window. Light and shade are transmitted from the window through the fibers and into the table. Movement outside the window, like the passing of birds or the rustling of leaves, brings a little of the outside world to the desk and the user, creating ambient unspoken moments of delight."

The PixelRoller, too, is much as it sounds: "a paint roller that paints pixels. It could be described as a handheld 'printer' based around the ergonomics of a paintroller," the Randoms elaborate. "It lets you output digital images by your own hand-a tool to apply any pixel-based graphics, from the internet, your phone, camera, etc., or text-based content in one stroke of real paint onto a vast range of substrates such as walls, floors, ceilings, streets and grass. Imagine a hand-operated printer that prints anywhere, on unlimited paper thickness or even without paper-using light on fluorescent paper, ink on walls or just water on concrete. PixelRoller can be used for everything from commercial/guerrilla marketing to activist graffiti, temporary signage systems for events to just changing your wallpaper."

But the Randoms have gone that one better. "Where the PixelRoller operates with real paint, the LightRoller excites a glow-in-the dark surface. Via an array of small UV lights, it simultaneously scans a digital image and fires light impulses, and the latter build up a usually much larger version of that image on the phosphorescent surface. The beauty of LightRoller lies in the fact that the image will fade out over time-usually two to five minutes, depending on ambient light conditions-so that it can be constantly changed." As for the Wallpaper Clock, it's "a fully functional clock that is printed onto ordinary paper. Using a heat-sensitive coating, the minutes and hours blur from one into the other in a very subtle, warm and organic way. The ornamented wallpaper was used to contrast the digital interactivity with our perception of traditional, static wall space."

The Split 68 project attempts to "change the experience of fluorescent lighting. The design of the Split series evolves around the geometry of the fluorescent tube in all its varieties, making it more flexible, versatile and desirable. The Splits' modular structure of individual clip-on elements encourages interaction with light itself, so that it can be modified to suit changing situations and satisfy individual needs. The combination of clip-on modules defines the 'resolution' of the light, and modules can be used and mixed for every standard length of fluorescent tube available."


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