glo is a project that addresses climate change through the exploration of light pollution and home lighting systems.
The project is embedded in the notion of using superficial “solutions.” We designed a website to promote the glo home lighting system, a system with the goal to combat problems created by artificial lighting by using more of it.
With research on biometric lighting, the design team proposed a home lighting system that imitates natural light to help users maintain their circadian rhythms. The product is aimed to enhance users’ health and overall well-being. Although the product is presented beneficially, there is an underlying possibility for users to manipulate their natural patterns. Ultimately, we are creating the illusion that we are granted the ability to control light, while in reality, it is light that is controlling us.
critical design, speculative design
climate change, light pollution, branding, web design, app design
Melody Men, Danni Peng, Sisi Zhou
There is space to open discussions about the consequences of light pollution and excessive light usage. Individuals should be prompted to discover and evaluate how their daily behaviours and health are affected by these phenomena.
Light pollution is the result of excessive use of artificial light seen in many large cities today. The abundance of lighting in urban areas is wasteful and produces large amounts of carbon dioxide. Moreover, it interferes with animal behaviour patterns and human health. Most notably, light pollution disrupts the human circadian rhythm, negatively impacting our immune system, melatonin production, and hormonal balance. However, individuals remain largely uninformed or ignorant of these consequences.
As technology has disseminated into our lives, we spend hours in over-lit environments and are required to use blue light emitting electronics. Such environments cause individuals to suffer from insomnia, fatigue, and other health issues. Temporary solutions such as melatonin pills, coffee, and even “darkness therapy” mask the issue rather than confront its roots, which is the overuse of artificial lights.
Website design & language
The website’s design aesthetic and use of language satirically critique existing technology companies which frequently launch “innovative and life-changing” solutions that produce more issues in the long-term.
The app system allows users to customize their home lighting system with their smartphone calendars for “maximum convenience and productivity.” There are multiple light modes to choose from to enhance one’s mood and experience based on the occasion.
Varying opinions and insights were formed and shared after presenting the product to the class. Some designers expressed the absurdity of mainstream culture where people are expected to always be in a positive mood, while some jokingly commented that they would use a product like the glo system. Collectively, we understood light pollution is inevitable as long as we live within an urbanized environment. However, this is not a reason for us to become nihilistic and ignore its existence and dangers.
A few months after our class ended, a team member discovered a major lighting corporation was releasing a new product line nearly identical to the glo system concept—a smart home lighting system that users can change lighting colour for more sophisticated and productive living experience. I came to the realization that a comment made by my instructor was horrifyingly true: our product, the glo system, can easily exist in the current market as another “innovative” lifestyle device.
The discussions and realizations generated by this project sparked my interest in this question: In designing an objector outcome, how can we balance the critical ideology while also appeal to the broader market? How can the general public obtain more agency in critically choosing the products and lifestyle that they consume?