Transform embodies a vision for the future of interactivity where objects change shape to give physical form to digital information

Every April, design connoisseurs flock to Milan Design Week to check out the latest products and concepts from all over the world. For its exhibition Lexus Design Amazing, Lexus wanted to exhibit art and design works related to its brand campaign “Amazing in Motion” to celebrate their passion for innovation.

Lexus commissioned ‘Transform’, a shape-shifting interface that responds to motion and touch. Transform creates dynamic, interactive 3D shapes by rapidly moving 1500 pins up and down under computer control. Its undulating surface offers near-infinite avenues of functional and aesthetic applications, depending on users’ interaction. Transform makes the digital environment tangible. It hints at a future where everything around us is interactive. Imagine that when you receive a phone call, the desk your phone is sitting on pushes it toward your reach. A landscape designer might use Transform to sculpt terrain, while an analyst might use it to visualize financial data.

Visitors to Milan Design week had never seen a concept like Transform before, and videos of the piece spread virally online. Lexus dominated headlines throughout the show, building buzz for their ‘Amazing in Motion’ campaign and enhancing their reputation as design innovators. The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum featured Transform in its exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.

The concept and first prototypes of Transform were developed by Daniel Leithinger and Sean Follmer of Hiroshi Ishii’s Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab. Patten Studio did electronics design and fabrication, mechanical fabrication and assembly to bring Transform to life for Lexus and the Cooper Hewitt.

Patten Studio
PCB design and mechanical assembly
  • Lexus
  • MIT Media Lab
    Design and production



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