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  Chief Editor Anuraag S | Editor Swati Bhalla | Powered by GigaSoft™ December, 2010

The Apifera (Summer 08)
Shop window for Selfridges&Co.
Duke Street, London.
5th September - mid October.

Team Apifera:
Matthew P-F - Concept, Project management, Electronics, programming, Geometry, Production.

Rebecca Lucraft - Papercraft, Production, materials.
Nicholas P-F - Installation, Production.

The Selfridges store in London asked Matthew Plummer Fernandez to create a window installation. The project used the analogy of shops being plants, shoppers being bees, and shop windows being flowers; the part of a plant specialized in attracting bees.

The Apifera is a responsive window that takes inspiration from the science of attraction developed in flowers, hence the complex fractal geometry and its ability to respond and change its breathing rate according to the daylight and passers-by. The program runs on an arduino and the movement is created with an array of computer fans.



Selfridges kindly offered me the chance to design one of their famous shop windows and I took on this challenge in a conceptual approach to architecture. I looked at the role of the shop window as a piece of architecture and found myself comparing it to the function of flowers; the part of a larger organism that is responsible for attracting other living species for its survival. Flowers have perfected the art of attraction by stimulating its target's sense of sight, smell, touch and taste. With this in mind I adopted design traits from flowers such as the geometry behind the window's complex form. Research into Phyllotaxis (the arrangement of florets) was key to solving the shape, followed by the calculation of folding templates for all 169 segments. Rebecca Lucraft of MA textiles at the Royal College of Art used her patience and paper craft skills to produce the individual segments over a month of full-time production. She also has a thorough understanding and experience in shop window production.


I also wanted to make the window as dynamic and 'alive' as possible so the whole structure pulsates in a natural motion aided by a sequence of fans. This motion is dependant on daylight and passers-by as the Apifera reads and analyses changes in light using LDR's. The expected behavior is that of an excited active shop window during the day and during busy-periods, and a passive window at night when it needs to conserve energy.

The Apifera can also self-adjust its sensitivity to stimulation, for example if no one has passed the window for ages it will behave extra alert and excited when someone finally does approach it. Vice versa, if the window has regular stimulation from passers-by it will become harder to excite. This self-adjusting sensitivity gives it a more controlled and life-like behavior, for instance us humans will detect and react to a bad smell instantly, but after a while we stop smelling it as we no longer need to be alert to its presence.


The final stage was the installation that took 3 night shifts during the hours of 10pm - 6.30 am which couldn't have been done without the practical skills and dexterity of my younger brother Nicholas.

The name Apifera is a botanical term given to flowers that are specialised in attracting bees.

The materials used are special blue paper hand cut and folded, laser-cut MDF frames, timber frame, arduino microcontroller, computer fans, and LDR's.

The overall size is 5.22m x 2.94m x 0.5m.


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