spilaio glow

biomimicry machining


Spilaio Glow is an exploration in biomimicry and machining that combines the organic visual aesthetics of natural cave formations with the hard geometry of machined parts. To find the ideal specimen, research was made into naturally occurring organic and inorganic patterns and structures that I felt would be conducive to the machining process.This research lead to the discovery of soda straw speleothem formations that form within cave systems as water leaches through cracks in the rocks displacing tiny amounts of minerals over time. The result is a tubular stalactite that is commonly translucent and cylindrical that grows in thin groupings on cave floors and ceilings. After discovering a suitable structure to replicate, a design was made to replicate the natural patterning of the specimen and to incorporate the design aesthetics of machining as well as incorporate a utilitarian function, in this case, a light. Rhino 3D was utilized as both a sketching and prototyping tool to accurately simulate the appearance, dimensionality, and assembly of the object I was later going to create through machine fabrication. This process also aided in simulating the conductivity of the lighting through different semi-transparent materials to figure out the best size and grouping of elements that I would later make in acrylic. The final model was made within appropriate tolerances to allow it to be manufactured by traditional hand milling techniques and a technical drawing was made as reference for the milling process. I then machined out the upper and lower sections of the lamp in aluminum and the remainder of the design was made out of machined acrylic, glass, and store bought electronics. The completed design is a desk lamp that accurately matches the design dimensions made earlier through 3D modeling and replicates the natural system that inspired its design. Following the naming conventions for cave formations being in Greek, Spilaio Glow derives its name from the Greek name for cave, spilaio.


The natural structure of soda
straw speleothem formations
within cave systems

design for manufacturing

Digital rendering in keyshot was used to test the lighting effects of Spilaio Glow on different materials in a simulated environment. It was also used to plan out the assembly  and create technical drawings for the different components that needed to be manufactured.

exploded lighting

technical drawing

fabrication process

Spilaio Glow was made using a variety of processes. The glass center was outsourced, the internal lights were hand-wired, and the aluminum and acrylic elements were machined.