It’s time for a post about the second of my new products: The Arc Floor Lamp. Unlike the Balance End Table, I didn’t have to start from scratch with this design. Instead, I drew upon my preexisting Peering Lamp and Signature Lamp designs and scaled them up to create a 5 ft tall floor lamp.
The two most challenging aspects of scaling up the Signature and Peering lamp designs were deciding on proportions and figuring out how to cut the wood for the central mahogany curve. Working out the proportions was difficult because if I simply scaled up the desk lamp designs I would end up with a base that was almost four feet long. It would be problematic to have such a bulky base, but at the same time I had to make sure that the base would be large enough to support the mahogany curve. In order to solve this problem I turned, as usual, to my sketchbook. I quickly learned that the Peering Lamp’s curve was too extreme and, if I used its design for the floor lamp it would just topple over. On the other hand, I wanted a curve that could reach over a couch and serve as a reading light and the Signature Lamp’s curve was a little too gentle to accomplish that. As a result, I ended up working out a new design that split the difference between the two desk lamps’ curves. The curve was not so extreme as to topple over on its proportionally smaller base, but it had enough reach to curve gently over a couch and serve as a perfect reading light.
Once I had decided on the design of the curve, I had to figure out how to cut it out. Adding to the challenge was the fact that I had to fit some sort of light bulb inside the curve. I had already decided not to use the same tiny LEDs as the desk lamps, since I felt that a floor lamp would require a more powerful bulb. I eventually decided on a 13-Watt 2-pin CFL bulb that, though compact, still required much more space than the LEDs used in the desk lamps. Doing the calculations, I figured that the top of the lamp would have to be at least 3 inches wide to accommodate the bulb. This meant I would need four layers of mahogany wood to build up the curve, as opposed to the two needed for the desk lamps. This added to the challenge of cutting out the curve since it essentially meant that I would have to cut out four separate curves that would later all be glued together. Cutting the curves was never a problem with the desk lamps, since they fit easily on one piece of wood. In this case, however, there was no way even one curve could be cut out the largest piece of mahogany available, let along four. After lots of thinking, I decided that the best approach would be to lay a bunch of mahogany boards adjacent to each other on the CNC machine bed and cut all four curves out at the same time from those boards. This would result in about 20 pieces that, if glued together in the right way, could be used to make the lamp. It’s a little hard to explain clearly, so just take a look at the pictures!
After cutting out the pieces and gluing them together, I sanded the curve like crazy to give it a more organic form. Once I had it smoothed and coated with a thin layer of polyurethane, it wasn’t too difficult to add my usual steel cables that hold the curve carefully balanced atop the base. The end result is a piece that suggests imminent movement. The curve, though rooted firmly to the base, looks like it could lift off at any second. I’m really happy with the end result!