optical invention

Franco Grignani(1908 - 1999)

Italian designer, painter & architect who first came into public view through his participation in the second wave of Futurism and Constructivism. Based on theories of perception, particularly on the Psychology of Form and his knowledge of architecture, he created more than 14000 experimental works. He became a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) in 1952: “Grignani studied architecture but became more interested in graphic design. He devoted himself to experiments in optical and visual design, painting and photographs. The Milan printers Alfieri & Lacroix allowed him a free hand with his typographic experiments. In later years he devised outstanding and novel photo compositions, based on optical systems he invented. He influenced many of his contemporaries.

1968 / ad for Alfieri & Lacroix / Milan

Happy birthday to Carl Friedrich Gauss, born in 1777 in Brunswick (Germany). A student in the university of Göttingen, Gauss discovered several results in number theory and geometry, but he also developed techniques to predict planetary orbits, invented an optical surveying instrument, measured Earth’s magnetic field and developed geometric optics. The simple fact that there’s a Wikipedia page “list of things named after Gauss” should say enough!


The Ames Room

The distorted room was named after ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, who invented the optical illusion in 1934. The floor, ceiling and side walls of the room are trapezoidal in shape but when viewed from a specific fixed point it appears to be rectangular.

We built this for the 2011 Christmas Lectures. See it in action in this clip from the lectures, or hear Andy talk about making it here.