Campfire is both a beacon and a place of gathering, fostering community, educational discourse, and social bonding between students, faculty, and staff.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2023
First Award | Interior Design Elements (Built)

Project Name: Campfire Light Installation, Carleton College
Category: Interior Design Elements (Built)
Studio Name: Studio Joseph
Design Team: Wendy Evans Joseph, Jose Luis Vidalon, Shuo Yang
Area: 64SF
Year: 2021
Location: Carleton College – Northfield, Minnesota
Consultants: Matthew Schreiber – Artist Consultant; Studio 100 – Lighting Consultant
Photography Credits: Corey Gaffer
Structural Engineer: Flos Lighting, Fabrication

Campfire Light Installation, Carleton College | Studio Joseph - Sheet2
©Corey Gaffer

A new interior atrium between two science buildings provides a multi-level connection between classrooms, offices, and social spaces. As this major hub of activity overlooks the central green, the Dean wanted to create a light installation that would become a beacon from inside and out, bringing forward ideas about art and science. Her goal was to have a dynamic light installation with an eye toward active engagement.

Campfire Light Installation, Carleton College | Studio Joseph - Sheet3
©Corey Gaffer

Campfire is our name for this light as It brings people together around its glow. It is the hearth and soul of the building, operating effectively for ground-level interactions and views from the 2nd and 3rd floors, from near and far.

The sculptural form consists of almost 80 acrylic tubes, 4″ diameter and 6 feet long, hung in two overlapping tiers. The random array forms an 8-foot square in plan and is 10’-6″ high, hanging by power cables from the ceiling.

Campfire Light Installation, Carleton College | Studio Joseph - Sheet4
©Corey Gaffer

Each cylinder cap has a LED ring that sends light through the transparent areas, creating a colored glow only at the translucent bands and the bottom rings. The random patterns of bands create a ‘flicker” effect. The bespoke programming holds six different “scenes” that are either stagnant or changing (a 10-minute loop); however, the program can change quickly and easily. The scenes range from groupings of different tones of white lights (warm, cool) to a collage of numerous variations of color to a single color.

Campfire’s playfulness engages students in the scientific process of light and creates a place to exchange ideas or simply enjoy its visual warmth.