Investigating materials

Illusion Plastic


We began our material exploration with a number of illusion plastics purchased from Paperchase. This transparent film is effected by motion, and although it’s a  relatively flat surface it has a 3D or liquid like quality when moved in front of light. This multi-lensed effect film has a subtly textured surface which reflects and absorbs light. We felt this illusion could be used in an interesting way as the viewers perception of the surface changes as you travel around it.

In this first video I bent single sheets of the illusion plastics in front of both natural and hard light to see the effects movement will have on it.

In this second video I overlayed two pieces of illusion plastic with light behind.

Possible use for illusion plastic.

When the sheets where moved over one another, pixel like patterns appear as the optical characteristics of the plastics are distorted. Unfortunately these materials don’t cast interesting shadows and we fear if they were heated/formed they would lose the illusive quality as the multi lensed texture would be lost. This will limit the way in which we could use them.


We also decided to investigate the optical qualities of glass and glass finishes.

  1. Rafael Hefti  | Mirror Mirror 
  2.  John Blazy | Cube
  3. Sophia Collier |Sensual Restful Brilliant
  4. Thomas Vailly & Laura Lynn Jansen | 101,86°
  5. Poetic Lab | Ripple Lamp 

Iridescent effects have been created in John Blazy’s Cube using 3M Dichroic Glass Finish, and in Rafael Hefti’s Mirror Mirror by applying an anti-glare finish multiple times to glass. Similar glass finishes create crystalline qualities in Thams Vailly & Laure Lynn Jansen’s 101,86°. Water like shadows have been created in both Sophia Collier’s Sensual Restful Brilliant and Poetic LAb’s Ripple lamp by differing the thickness of glass/perspex. These are qualities we would like to explore.

We began by heading to the glass workshops to see what materials they have and how we could utilise them for our projects.


Firstly we love the effect the hammered glass has when light is cast through it. The organic, liquid like shadows are created as light is refracted through a surface of varying thicknesses. We have decided to slump glass over a textured surface to create a similar effect with glass pieces our choice of colour.

We also looked at coloured glass and how fusing colours could effect shadows. The Pre-treated glass with and iridescent finish was more opaque, however I did like the rainbow shadows cast on the surface. I also loved the way in which the orange glass created a sun burst effect on the surface.

Initial Design Ideas

With these materials and colour mixing in mind these are initial ideas

CGI by Houda

In this idea we considered creating a number of collapsed half domes in several different colours, in varying thicknesses of glass. These could then be swapped, changed and moved so the user could effect colour of light and shadows cast on their environment.



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