Telling fortunes at the Portland Winter Light Festival


Stellar Teller gave thousands of fortunes to the wanderers at the Portland Winter Light Festival this year. Using a grant from the PAE Innovation Group, project leads Paula Hopker and Sarah KC Cowan dove into experiential design and programming to pull together an interactive light installation and fortune teller for the festival. Close coordination with LUMA and their past experience with the festival helped the construction and installation go smoothly.

A key portion of the design depended on learning to code through Touch Designer while also creating the graphics for the user experience displays. A compressed timeline kept the team focused and moving forward.

“It was nice to see something come fully to fruition after the compromises of the last few COVID years,” said lead LUMA lighting designer Shea Sterner. While the team had higher aims of more complex lighting cues, it was kept to a simple process in service of the tight timeline. That timing kept the challenges coming, with adjustments to the coding right up until opening day. During the opening weekend the team quickly learned that the installation proved to be a bigger hit than anticipated, with long lines. After reconvening, they were able to cut the experience time in half, allowing more people the opportunity to experience the exhibit the following weekend.

As LUMA Director Zach Suchara said, "With any installation the overall key question is always, 'Is it successful with the public? Internal challenges aside, how do people react to it?' From a design standpoint it was incredibly successful and took up a prime spot in the square. There was a line the whole time, even when people didn’t know what they were in line for. The lighting drew them in.”

“It was a success,” said Shea, “An opportunity to tell the future and forutnes to the world, and we nailed it.”

A special thank you to everyone at LUMA Lighting Design, PAE, and JE Dunn Construction, who contributed their time and imagination to this installation, and to the PAE | LUMA Innovation Group, who makes a more inspiring future possible by supporting ideas and encouraging action.

Project Manager: Paula Denise Hopker
Programming: Sarah KC Cowan, Paula Denise Hopker
UX/UI Design & Motion Graphics: Tara Brooks, Sean Cochran, Nicole Tan
Lighting Design: Shea Sterner
Technology Design: Michael Lackemann, CTS-D, Scott Simpson, CTS-D
Surround Design: Brock Soderberg, Patrick Keck, Conner Batchelder, Brianna Denney
Tree Encasement Design:
Paula Denise Hopker, Sean Cochran
Writer: Katrina Emery
Stellar Teller Voice: Sarah KC Cowan
Tree Encasement Construction: LUMA Lighting Design, PAE, Paula Denise Hopker, Chris Hawthorne, Kevin Koch, Ivan Howard, Shea Sterner, Jeff Mah, Jessica Kaplan, PE, Sarah KC Cowan, Sean Cochran, Tressa Points, Maya Drake, Anna Winn, Glenn Fujimura, Patty Hopker
Surround Construction: JE Dunn Construction, Amy Winterowd, Patrick Keck, Conner Batchelder, Brianna Denney, Michael Mar, Stacey Phelps, Shelby Craig, Keith Phillips, Doug Sohnrey, Mike Veer
Interactive Screen Supplied by Planar