Walls that breathe with the weather #design #innovation #thinkdifferently

Design Technology

SOFTlab, New York

SOFTlab is a design studio based in New York City, created by Michael Szivos.

The studio designs across almost every medium, from digitally fabricated large-scale sculpture, to interactive design, to large-scale digital video installations. As the studio adjusted to a wide range of projects, it began to focus less on the medium and style and more on ideas.

IBM Watson HQ, Atlanta

Based on the Weather Channel’s air quality API, SOFTlab designed an interactive wall for the lobby of IBM’s headquarters. The wall is interactive and developed in partnership with IBM and the Weather Channel.

The rotated tiles of the wall are inspired by weather patterns.

Each folded aluminum tile is folded and rotated to represent a field of vectors driven by currents of flow. Through a user interface integrated into the wall visitors can select various cities based on the lowest, highest, and trending air quality across the globe.


Interactive (credit SOFTlab)

The Air Quality Index of various cities is analyzed and used to visualize a global air flow map.

• This air flow vectors are used to control the back lit LED grid. Each folded panel is back lit by a specific colour generated by the average Air Quality Index.

• Each LED in the grid is covered by a diffuser and a white powder coated aluminum panels that both reflects and catches light. The folding of each panel is designed to give the diffused light a three-dimensional quality as it shields and bounces light off its neighbours.

• The changing directionality of the panels reveals the back lit LED visualization in different ways depending on where a viewer is standing. This lenticular like effect of the panels creates variable “hotspots” along with the visualization, creating an analog effect that works in tandem with the digital visualization.

• Through the composite of diffused LEDs and the folded aluminum panels the wall gives light a tactile almost material like quality, meant to go beyond a typical LED grid or screen.

The wall almost breathes in response to the visualization by creating depth, reflection and shadow.

Similar to the planet, the wall is meant to evoke a system that is less of an object but a dynamic mix of both material in many states that all influence one another.


Watch it work