Nicholas Tamás



Ebb is a lighting design that is an exploration in both process and form generation. Ebb or ebbing is the movement of water in response to tidal forces; and as the name implies, the form of the lamp shade was likewise formed through the physics of fluid and tidal forces. Utilizing the animation software suite, Houdini, i was able to simulate a body of water around a double helical curved structure. This body was then subjected to one G (Earth's gravity) of gravitational force emanating from the curved structure used to form the body of water. The resulting simulation generated a number of forms and a few from multiple simulation timelines were chosen then exported to Rhino 3D in order to be cleaned up and edited to fit with my other self assembled lighting components. The chosen models were then rendered within keyshot to determine the optimum placement of the components based off of light quality and to determine the optimum lamp type for the final design. These models were then 3D printed on a small scale and prototyped with LED candelabra, and from these one was chosen. A full scale model of the chosen lamp shade was then printed in PLA plastic, sanded, finished, and assembled with the final lighting components for the final design.

Ebb embodies the beauty and momentum of the ocean tide. Generated by the physics of water and tidal forces its form is both peacefully elegant and violently dynamic.

mood board

lighting experimentation

These are a few of the lighting experiments done in order to replicate the caustic lighting effect of water. They include refracting and reflecting light though water, vacuum forming a pattern made from a water texture pattern, casting silicon with fabric at variable densities, and 3D printing a double curved surface with a pattern to create a caustic pattern on a lamp shade.

procedural form generation

The animation software suite SideFx: Houdini was used to generate the final form for Ebb. Unlike other animation software, Houdini specializes in creating accurate particle simulations of natural systems through procedural modeling. It does this through a series of unique solvers that calculate the movement and evolution of different materials with different types of forces acting upon them. Though its primarily used in the film and video game industry, I found that it could also be repurposed to generate solid geometry that could then be rapid prototyped via additive manufacturing. With that goal in mind, I began creating numerous simulations built around water as the material with different gravimetric forces acting upon it in order to generate the final form. This was done done by shaping a volume of water with tidal forces emanating from a double helical structure.

lighting effect render test

The rendering software Keyshot was used to test the effect that different types of lamps would have within the different forms generated in Houdini. These renderings were used to determine the Lumosity, color temperature, throw, and shape of the lamp that would be used in the final design.


Physical prototyping was also used to narrow down the ideal form for Ebb's final design. Following the rendering test to see what type of shapes would pare ideally with existing lighting architecture and lamps types, 14 prototypes were 3D printed at scale and tested with miniature candelabra. From these 14 prototypes, one was chosen to be printed at full scale.

fabrication process

printing, cleanup, & assembly

The final design for Ebb's shade consisted of the following steps

• the shade was digitally enlarged and edited to fit with other electrical components• the model was digitally sliced and 3D printed in two halves

• the two halves were cleaned up and joined together with steel pins

• body filler and primer were used to fix any leftover imperfections from the printing process

• the model was given a final finish consisting of pearl white primer and clear coat