This might change your way of thinking about light

Jane Vita • Senior Service Creator

Get to know “Think in a Tank”

I never thought that my way of thinking about light would change. Light for me was something that was part of my life, essential for the earth’s ecosystem and it was also part of my monthly bills. However, this was until I got to know about the “Think in a Tank” event. How did my mind change? I’m going to tell you.

Think in a Tank Photo: Think in a Tank, meeting of minds by Jane Vita

The whole story started when I read a Facebook post from my friend. There was a catchy description of the event, “Finland will house a unique gathering of minds from the world of architecture, design and lighting.” It led me to click on the link and this is what sparked my interest in the event. At first I thought that I would attend a series of talks, but then I understood from their website that the event was about a unique gathering of minds from people within architecture, design and lighting. Although I had shown an interest in going, there was also an open application to actually get a chance to be part of the event. From that moment, I knew I wanted to apply, but I needed to understand more, something was triggered, switched on. While I didn’t know much about it, the content on their website made me very curious.

I found out that the event was part of Helsinki Design Week and it was happening at the world famous Silo 468 light art piece in Helsinki, Finland. Participants were nothing less than world-class thinkers that together with the company Lighting Design Collective (LDC), would challenge and debate the current role of light, natural, artificial, digital, responsive and participatory in architecture and the built environment.

Silo 468 Photo: Silo 468 by LDC London

There’s is an important side note. Besides my work at Futurice, I’m also currently a doctoral student at Aalto University and my research topic is about a more meaningful application of technology in hybrid places, focusing on learning environments. The text I read on their website and the tools they used were very interesting, something that would definitely inspire me in my research.

So, I applied to attend the event, and a few weeks later I got the news… I was accepted. In fact, I was already included in their “Thinkers” website session. I felt really proud Marco Bevolo, the Italian host of the event and known urban futures sociologist, told me later that my application was the first one to arrive and I was on his shortlist for the whole decision-making process. Well, I have some Italian blood running through my veins and perhaps my desire of wanting to do my bit in making the world a better place made him consider me.

Finally, on 8th October, all the participants met in front of the Market Square in Central Helsinki, and from there we took a boat to Silo 468. There was a food truck and a very well set up meeting place waiting for us. The building was stunning. It was an enormous oil tank completely repurposed into a piece of architectural art, functional yet transformative There was a trail of lights inside the structure that moved according to the sun’s position. These spots of light on the tank walls “painted" different forms, which were constantly in flux with the movement of light. The open space and a high ceiling gave great air circulation, fantastic for helping us to think. It was incredibly inspiring.

Silo 468 Photo: Silo 468 by Jane Vita

We spent the afternoon and evening there. We were first introduced to each other and then shown the LDC reframing tool that enabled participants to shape their own visions of lighting, incorporating stimuli of a technical, organisational and socio-cultural nature.

We thought about light and its application from three perspectives: body, metropoly and object. We picked envelopes containing questions that were addressed to the participants. Some of my notes included sentences that speak for themselves:

  • Our eyes focus on what is brighter
  • We think of light as passive communication, we need to turn it into a protagonist
  • Light gives you the notion of time, discovery and wayfinding
  • Light defines spaces (its size)
  • Some materials can change according to light
  • Light make us interpret the space in multiple ways, fear, security, love...
  • Warm and cold (touch and other senses)
  • We can’t see without light
  • Light is what we perceive about the world
  • Sound can be turned to light, voice can turn to light
  • Every layer of technology will change the way we see the world, including the manipulation of light

Thinkers Photo: Thinkers by Janne K Aikio

As I said in the beginning of this post, somehow light had a different meaning for me and now light will definitely play now a meaningful role in my future designs. Light is not only something that illuminates our daily life, but it is also something that reflects our way of expressing and interpreting the world. 

At the end of the event, there was a great wrap up from Skinfiltr8r, who gave us a piece of poetry and hip hop, summarising the event perfectly. I’m looking forward to seeing this work, this creative summary of the event, when it is published. For now, you’ll have to just believe in my words. 

Skinfiltr8r, Photo: Skinfiltr8r, more at

The outcome of the “Think in a Tank series” will be a ground-breaking publication, with futures research concepts by the Lighting Design Collective, planned for 2017. Oh My God, I’m part of it :)

For more info about the event, thinkers and the LDC reframing tool, go to:

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