This paper by Nancy Yen-wen Cheng analyses a hybrid design approach; how physical and digital processes can inform each other in a multivalent design cycle. It describes the design of origami-inspired window shades, part of the Shaping Light project that explores how adjustable surface structures can modulate light levels and heat gain in response to the changing seasons. The screen uses sloped surfaces to diffuse light and create apertures that close when the screen is stretched and open when the screen is folded.
The project complements digital methods for pattern proportioning and kinetic simulation with manual manipulation to generate 3D folding motifs and refine assemblies. Physical prototypes can shape digital refinement by revealing visual and structural characteristics of materials, along with joint and production considerations. Physical models for simulating sunny and cloudy daylighting conditions provide a direct connection between spatial configuration and visual effects. The paper concludes with guidelines for material-based digital-analog creation.