U.K.'s Chic Geeks: rAndom International

The good Deity (or deities) behind "Let there be light" could not possibly have bargained for the imaginations behind rAndom International. Since joining forces in 2002, its three German- and British-born partners -- Hannes Koch, Flo Ortkrass and Stuart Wood -- have dumbfounded spectators by "printing" light-emitting images on light-reflective surfaces, each dissolving as another replaces it thanks to a strip of LEDs that scans up and down a blank wall. Their cylindrical PixelShade lamp shade glows with continuous patterns that morph across its surface, while their Temporary Graffiti pens scribble on the light. And then there's the PixelRoller, a computer-assisted paint roller that miraculously applies part of a preprogrammed image with every sweep across a wall. "It's like magic; sometimes we don't even believe it ourselves," says Ortkrass who, like the others, is a graduate of London's Royal College of Art. It's not all magic, though. The group uses LED-activated phosphorescent paint -- "Basically 20-year-old glow-in-the-dark technology," says Koch -- programmed with cutting-edge mastery. (The PixelRoller, which uses real paint, also relies on a mouselike tracking device.) What results are mutating, low-tech/high-tech environments as ephemeral as light itself, earning the designers exhibitions at London's Victoria & Albert museum and the venerable department store Selfridges, as well as shows with the original lighting virtuoso, Ingo Maurer. An exhibition this fall at New York's Christopher Henry Gallery is in the works, but, Koch says, "We want to make a permanent space that always changes. We're ready."

(top) rAndom Internationals' PixelRoller, a device designed to apply pixel-based graphics onto surfaces via a handheld "printer" in the form of a roller; (bottom right) a LightRoller paints digital patterns on a light-reactive chair; (bottom left) PixelShades use light alone to display digital content on their surfaces, while Pendant Lights (foreground) use gravity and magnetism to create patterns on the floor.


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