Pillar - a Device for Personal Relaxation

October 2020

Duration: 3 weeks

Concept device designed to aid personal relaxation— particularly, intentional, mindful times of slowing-down by reading or journaling. Constructed entirely out of white paper, foamcore, and adhesives, the flame-inspired form evokes feelings of intimacy and warmth.

Encourages an intentional slowing-down from the busy-ness and overload of everyday life. 

On/Off States.


There were a couple things to consider as I approached the project:

  • A device for “personal relaxation” implies alone-ness and quiet: the product should encourage and celebrate introspection and slowing-down. 
  • A lighting device for relaxation also shouldn’t be too harsh, but more mellow and ambient, easy on the eyes.
  • Form wise: flow-y, fair lines will feel more appropriate than rigid shapes and angles.


Material Experiments

I played around with some pieces of letter and newsprint paper to get a sense of the interaction between paper and light, and what happens with different folds, layers, and shapes. 

Concept Ideas & Rapid Prototyping

After becoming more familiar with my materials, their affordances and limitations, I then began to narrow down on what exactly I wanted to use those materials to do, what kind of emotions I wanted my device to evoke. I made a word cloud for adjectives that I associated with the words “personal relaxation”:

  • Healing
  • Kind
  • Safe
  • Gentle
  • Quiet

Then, I made another word cloud of objects/places/feelings those same words reminded me of:

  • a cocoon
  • coming home
  • being held in a pair of really big hands
  • a flame

From here, I brainstormed how I might translate each of these into physical models and tried them out:


From left to right: sketch, iteration 1, iteration 2 off state, iteration 2 on state.


From left to right, top to bottom: sketch and inspiration, quick mock-up out of letter paper, sketch-model with lightbulb and surface cuts. 

Chosen Direction

While considering which sketch model I might go forward with, I thought again about the true meaning of personal relaxation:

  • Personal relaxation must be intentionally sought out. Mindless scrolling/watching may seem soothing in the moment, but many times, it’s an additional overload of information and media. Mindful personal relaxation, on the other hand, will encourage introspection, slowing down, and being still.
  • For me personally, this means intentionally getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to get alone, and finding time to reflect, think, read, and write.
  • Although not everyone’s “personal relaxation” may look the same, I wanted to create a device that would encourage an active form of personal relaxation— whether it be journaling, reading, or even simply reflecting. 

For this concept, I felt that the most appropriate direction out of my prototypes would be the flame model; I was intrigued by the idea of a lighting device that might allude to the experience of sitting in front of a fireplace or with a candle nearby— the warmth, ambience, relaxation and almost spiritual aspect of being before a fire.

Form Iterations & Refinement

From here, I realized that my original flame model was a a bit bulky to use as an intimate table lamp; by scaling down some of the measurements, I worked on making the device more friendly and approachable:

My next goal was to create a sturdier base. Using foamcore and adhesives, I played around with different ways of involving an inner “base” component to give the device more structure and weight: 

I started out with a simple circle cut-out attached to the bottom, and then constructed an actual holder for the bulb out of foamcore. For stability, I made another with three “pillars” instead of two: