Incom ist die Kommunikations-Plattform des Institut für Industrial Design - Hochschule Magdeburg-Stendal

In seiner Funktionalität auf die Lehre in gestalterischen Studiengängen zugeschnitten... Schnittstelle für die moderne Lehre

lucy - light that grows on you

How can we slow down our consumer behaviour? The project lucy is about establishing a lasting relationship with our surroundings. lucy achieves this with a natural light source: bioluminescent mushrooms
Instead of using electricity, lucy feeds on dead organic matter and therefore spreads, changes every day and grows on you.

Final Pictures

Accompanying Video


Bioluminescence in nature

Before looking for viable applications of bioluminescence in products, I chose to find out its purpose in nature. I found that there are four main applications for bioluminescence: Illumination, reproduction, defense and prey attraction.


To further explore the scenarios, in which I could use bioluminescent organisms I wanted to see what colour bioluminescent light usually has. The resulting graph had two prominent peaks. One for terrestrial organisms in the green spectrum at around 510nm and one for marine organisms in the blue at around 480nm. Please see the graph on the accompanying poster in figure A.07.

Market research

My market research included a lot of concepts and kickstarter campaigns, but also a few projects by industry giants like Phillips. In my research I found out that the potential of bioluminescence has not yet been fully explored. In most cases the natural light is only used in scientific gadgets. In these cases, the relationship between organisms and humans seems rather exploitive. In contrast, I believe the real potential lies in building a symbiotic relationship.

Comparing Organisms

My initial research helped me to determine three organisms that I wanted to continue examining: Fungi, Dinoflagelates, a kind of phytoplankton, and Vibro Fisheri a species of bioluminescent bacteria. In the diagrams below, you can see a comparison of the three organisms in different parameters, which I defined. Fungi emerge as my favourite. So, I decided to continue with these.

Use Cases

Having decided to go on with fungi I wanted to evaluate a multitude of different places. I did this by specifying the parametres light quality, needs and relationship.

Dokumentation of Growth

After having decided to continue my work with mushrooms I wanted to better understand how these organisms grow.

I acquired two mushroom cultures in Petri dishes and studied these while documenting their growth on a daily basis.

On day five I was able to see the bioluminescent light, although very faint. Also I was able to see the mushrooms starting to pin. This started around day 15 and got more and more visible over time. The glow of the mycelium became more and more faint over time.

At project start I had expected that the interesting thing about bioluminescence would be its ability to produce light, without needing electricity. While that is fascinating, I found that by living with these organisms, I built up an emotional connection to the fungi.

Similiar to a plant or a pet, I was happy when the fungi grew or made some kind of progress. I was absolutely elated when I got to see their natural light with my own eyes, instead of through the lens of my camera, for the first time.

So, while not needing electricity might be a quantifiable advantage over traditional lighting methods, it seems secondary to this nontangible benefit of having a relationship with this organism.

Ein Projekt von


Bachelor Industrial Design


Prof. Steffi Hußlein

Zugehöriger Workspace



Wintersemester 2019 / 2020


zusätzliches Material