High-tech wood theremin controls holiday light show
December 17, 2021 | 2:00 pm CST

Maestro is an interactive lighting controller for the New York City Brookfield Plaza Luminaries display.

Visitors to New York City's Brookfield Place can conduct their own light show using a wood device fabricated by a team of furniture makers and high-tech designers.

Maestro was machined with a 5-axis robotic CNC at Timbur, a company that specializes in CNC carved stack laminated furniture.

As part of its annual holiday Luminaries display, Brookfield Place has added a new element called Maestro. It's a controller that functions for lighting the way a theremin creates ethereal music from the motion of hands.

Maestro construction at Timbur
Craftsmen at Timbur worked with designers from Lab at Rockwell Group to create Maestro.

Timbur, a furniture fabricator that specializes in stack laminated wood constructions machined on a 5-axis robotic CNC router, teamed up with the design studio Lab at Rockwell Group to create the device. It's made by machining sheets of stack laminated birch plywood into a sinuous organic form. The controller uses skeletal tracking technology to let visitors conduct their own symphonies without a single touch.

Maestro Luminaries at Brookfield Place
The Luminaries display is controlled by visitors using Maestro. Interaction with Maestro generates charitable donations.

Luminaries is a holiday ritual inspired by the season’s traditions of sharing, giving, community and light. For each wish made and interaction with Maestro, Brookfield Place will donate $1 up to $25,000 to City Harvest.

See how Maestro was made and watch it in action in the video below.


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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.