Patten Studio

Patten Studio

Brooklyn, NY


Zebrafish Donor Wall at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

The Zebrafish Donor Wall is an interactive arrangement of hundreds of 3D-printed zebrafish commemorating donors to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston

Where words fail, touch can often convey what remains unsaid. In the case of the Zebrafish donor wall, tactile interaction between visitors to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute transcends time and, depending on how one looks at it, space.

The 425 zebrafish (a symbol chosen not uncoincidentally, thanks to its significant regenerative abilities and widespread usage as a model organism in scientific research) act as a feature wall of the Institute, drawing visitors’ attention to the individuals who deserve credit for keeping the Institute running.

Each 3D-printed fish is unique, engraved with the donor’s name, and embedded with capacitive touch sensors and LED lights. Visitors to the wall can explore personalized messages left by each donor by touching the fish that bears their name. These pop up on one of the screens in the middle of the wall, making for meaningful and emotional connections between people who share a common cause against an oftentimes frustrating medical mystery.

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Status: Built
Location: Boston, MA, US
My Role: Electronics, Sensing, Embedded Software
Additional Credits: Small Design Firm - Concept, Production, Software
Hypersonic - Mechanical Design, Fabrication, Installation