The Lucid Stead project celebrates light in all its subtle, shifting, dazzling, reflecting, refracting, blinding glory. We reveal its beauty in the first of a series looking at the decade’s most innovative new art and design concepts.

First Impressions Count

Puzzlement is probably the first impression created by Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead concept. It appears to be some kind of shack, but it can’t be, surely. Is it floating?

Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead

Master of Illusion

The imaginative use of mirrored panels between successive bands of timber helps break up the structure of the building with alternate layers of the shack apparently floating on thin air.

Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead

Old Meets New

The building – an original homesteader shack in Joshua Tree, California – is estimated to be over 70 years old. The repurposed structure has now been given new life through the project.

Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead

Ways of Seeing

The interaction of light on the mirrored panels lends the building a constantly changing canvas, reflecting the surrounding environment. At times it even seems surreal: Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath meets Blade Runner.

Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead

Reflecting the Environment

Lucid Stead’s true nature is revealed as each day progresses, exactly reflecting the changing hues of light and atmosphere at different times of the day.

Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead

Loving the Alien

The slightly alien nature of the design – at first glance isolated from the surrounding desert – is actually anything but. It is, quite literally, a mirror to the environment around it.

Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead

Moment of Illumination

The already bold vision of Lucid Stead acquires an even more audacious element as night starts to fall. The mirrored panels are still apparent, but so, too, are other illuminations.

In Living Colour

The effect of the mirrored strips fades away as night closes in, and in their place vibrant blocks of illuminated colour emerge. Defiantly modern and artificial, the effect is startling.

Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead

Fade to Black

The surreal blocks suspended in vivid neon colours stand out at night, as do subtle strips of white LED lights along the edges of all the wood and mirror panels.

Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead

The Bare Bones

The white LED strips mimic the effect of the mirrored panels during the day, but also lay the shack bare as if the skeleton of the building were being revealed.

Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead

United Colours

The geometric blocks of colour echo the colours of renowned light artists such as James Turrell. Like Turrell, Phillip K. Smith’s work ensures a heightened awareness of the surrounding environment.

Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead

The Star Act

As night gradually becomes day, the illuminated panels return to their normal state and the only sources of light are the stars and the moon, offering yet another reflection of nature.

Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead

Natural Cycle

The pattern is repeated as the day dawns once again. The project has now been concluded and art fans await Phillip K. Smith’s next visionary undertaking. The question remains, though: was it even real? Was it a mirage? Or maybe it was all just a trick of the light…

Phillip K. Smith III’s Lucid Stead

Article by James Lee-Tullis

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