Brighton-based design studio Harvey & John is known for creating playful installations that merge science with fantastical designs. A flip through their portfolio reveals glass objects that glow when placed near an electrical field, a smart drinking fountain and an app that turns ping pong balls into orchestral instruments.
Their latest installation, Thought Bubbles, features a group of gently glowing spheres that levitate dreamily in mid-air kept afloat by a steady, low-pressure air flow. The installation is controlled by an app, through which people can adjust the air flow to make the spheres move or put on music so they’ll bob to the beat. In the video below, they dance in sync to punchy classical music.
“With the app you can say how much air comes out and vary the flow rate,” says Richard Harvey, who runs the studio with his partner Keivor John. “You can also shift the air flow slightly to the left or slightly right, so that it looks like nothing is moving other than the ball.” The app can also connect to a DJ mixer so that the spheres move in coordination with the music. “The orb ‘listens’ to whatever is playing and figures out the beat, just like when you listen to a beat and try to move in accordance with it,” Harvey says.
The Thought Bubbles are available for rent on Harvey & John’s website. So far, Harvey says, they’ve proved popular at parties and events, even serving as giant white boards for people to use as guest books or for advertisements.