EXCEL LONDON

4 - 12 MAY 2024

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NEC BIRMINGHAM

2 - 6 OCTOBER 2024

NEC BIRMINGHAM

2 - 6 OCTOBER 2024

EXCEL LONDON

4 - 12 MAY 2024

Phyto Light by Sam Bird Smith

Phyto Light by Sam Bird Smith

Phyto is a hanging pendant light, made from 3D printed algae-based bioplastic. 

I chose the name Phyto, as it is a shortening of the word ‘Phytoplankton’, which is a general term for microalgae - the algae which has been used in this material. The shapes of the light are inspired by the appearance of algae under a microscope to pay homage to the origin of the material. The uneven forms lend themselves perfectly to 3D printing and would be difficult to achieve through other manufacturing methods, justifying the use of 3D printing. The natural colouring of the shades also helps to demonstrate where the material has come from. The shades have been angled so that they shine light directly onto the curved surfaces, completely illuminating one half of the shade and leaving the other in shadow, creating the eclipse effect. 

Each sphere also has a curved slit cut out from the opposite side to the side that is illuminated, which conforms to the curved surface of the sphere and breaks up the part that is in shadow. It adds a warm glow and allows small amount of light to escape. It also allows the shades to be taken on and off by sliding the hanging wire through the slit. 

Algae grows in bodies of water and is a photosynthetic organism, meaning that it absorbs C02 from the atmosphere and produces oxygen in return, which purifies the surrounding air and water. It is actually far more efficient at doing so than trees and just one acre of algae can absorb CO2 at least 50 times faster than the equivalent in trees. It is also much faster growing and has the ability to cover a vastly greater area. It’s commonly assumed that planting trees is one of the most effective methods in absorbing CO2, producing oxygen and fighting climate change, however trees are only responsible for 28% of the Earth’s oxygen and it is phytoplankton (microalgae) which produces 70% of our oxygen. 

However, algae isn’t perfect, some can even be toxic and if not monitored correctly it can become a problem. Farmers are using fertilisers and pesticides on their crops, which leads to surface run off, seeping into nearby bodies of water. The nutrients in these chemicals can cause algae to multiply at an alarming rate, creating toxic algal blooms, which result in the surface of the water becoming completely covered in algae, blocking the sunlight, draining the nutrients and subsequently killing off all marine life. Phyto is made from this nuisance algae, which is separated from the water, before being dried and processed into bioplastic. The clean water is then pumped back into the source, restoring life to the area. This process not only creates a new, sustainable material, but also protects marine life and provides local areas with clean water. 

Website: https://www.ntudesignindustries.com/2023-student-profiles/a5e3fd1d-b8d4-4712-a1ff-0514c87f1d54 

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