Studio Initiated

Lift is an interactive lighting feature that senses and responds to human activity in its environment.

Comprised of 24 geometric petals attached to a single spine, each petal can move up and down in response to motion it detects – fluttering slightly as someone walks beneath it or moving more dramatically in response to wild movements.

Currently on display at SHoP Architects, Lift is a conversation starter. It challenges us to think about what becomes possible when the design vocabularies of the physical and digital worlds merge, and objects in our environment that have traditionally been inanimate start to engage us in a playful dialog through motion.


Lift is approximately ten feet long, and can be installed either as a single piece or as a group to create a larger installation. We can also create custom shapes and sizes. For all inquiries regarding Lift, please contact info@pattenstudio.com.

Lift uses a series of low resolution thermal sensors to understand how people are moving around it. An embedded microcontroller processes this data and uses a low power radio link to tell each of the twenty four petals how to move.

The motion of the petals is achieved using nitinol shape memory alloy. Nitinol wire shrinks in length by a small amount when heated past a certain temperature. To lift a petal, a circuit sends electricity through the wire, causing it to heat and contract, in turn pulling the petal up. Lift does not use any motors and as a result the motion is completely silent. The nitinol, also known as “muscle wire,” gives the motion a fluid, organic quality. 

  • Ty Cole
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