Allan Chochinov of the new MFA Products of Design, alerted me to the work of one of his students, Richard Clarkson. It's called The Cloud.
The project is an Arduino-controlled “cloud” that mimics thunder and lighting, and doubles as a dynamic audio visualizer. I think the work is both poetic and remarkable, and can be interpreted along a broad spectrum of “products of design.” Richard sees the piece as an exploration of different design platforms—from a DIY kit (he shares the Arduino code on the link) to a production lamp to a speculative object to a piece of rarefied design art. He looked at several analogous price points -- from free to exclusive -- all the while offering up the plans for others to grow the project with. I’m impressed that Richard was able to hit all these notes with a single piece of work.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.