Japanese designer Yoshiki Matsuyama is fascinated by science—particularly the biological and physical explanations for the shapes, colors, and textures of nature. So when he entered a recent design challenge on the theme of curiosity, he decided to create a product that answers a classic question: Why is the sky blue?
"The sight of sky is always emotional for me—the blue sky on a sunny day, the orange sky you can see from the seaside, the color gradient of sky that you see from an airplane," Matsuyama says. "I wanted to express the beauty of the sky through product design."
By using the same physics principles that make the sky appear a certain color, Matsuyama was able to create a disc-shaped lamp that glows blue or orange depending on the time of day. It's essentially a stylish version of a science experiment you might have tried in seventh grade. Small amounts of acrylic resin, dissolved in water, scatter different wavelengths of light. If the light is off, the lamp appears entirely clear; turn it on, and it's filled with color.
In one setting, the lamp works like a clock, with the direction of light rotating around the disc as the time changes. As the path of the light lengthens and shortens, the color gradient changes like a constantly evolving sunset. In another mode, the light responds to ambient sounds in the room, glowing brighter when there's noise.
For now, the lamp is just a prototype, though Matsuyama hopes to produce it. It was recently on display during Milan Design Week, along with other winners of the 2014 Lexus Design Award.