Peering Lamp

Now for the third of my new products – the Peering Lamp!

A close-up of the LED module without the light-transmitting acrylic cover.

If you saw my post two days ago, you might notice that this design is very similar to that of the Signature Lamp. After finishing work on the signature lamp, I was so psyched about LEDs and the mahogany and oak design I had just come up with that I wanted to create more. I had figured out most of the annoying, time-consuming details (like what light switch to use and how to mount all the wiring inside the lamp base) with my first run-through, and I could now make another pass without having to deal with any or that.

With this new lamp, I decided to go in a different direction in terms of cabling. In my other works I employ cables as structural elements, but I often use more than I have to in order to create interesting, intersecting contours. With this design, however, I wanted to experiment with a more minimal approach. It was my aim to use as few cables as possible to create a stable system without using any other fasteners or adhesives. As I soon discovered, I only needed two cables to achieve stability. The first cable passes through the lamp’s mahogany curve low down near the base and pulls it downward and forward. The second cable passes through the base higher up and pulls it downward and backward. As such, both cables pull the curve down and firmly into a small notch in the base, thus keeping it from sliding anywhere. At the same time, the cable cables provide forward and backward forces that cancel out and have the net result of holding the mahogany curve solidly in place. With seemingly so little needed to hold everything in place, I opted for an exaggerated, large curve that would suggest imminent movement as it leaned forward and away from the small base.

View from the front

From the back. With this design, my aim was to create a sense of impending motion.

The Peering Lamp in its natural environemnt

Brightness test... The lamp provides a lot of light!  

You can check out the product page for the Peering Lamp here

Suspension Shelf

Time for another post about one of my new products! Today it’s the Suspension Shelf.

Random brainstorm sketches

The idea to make a wall-mounted “floating” style shelf came to me last summer during a brainstorming session (side note – brainstorming for me is basically doodling for hours and seeing what happens – see the picture to the right). I thought the idea had some promise and quickly got to work sketching out and building some prototypes. You can check out the results of those prototyping sessions here and here. I tried out five different designs without stopping and, when I finally took a break to consider the results, I realized none of them was actually very good. There was too much going on. The curved cutouts breaking into the shelves didn’t look right and the shapes of the fins that mounted to the wall were a bit awkward. The cabling pattern, which would have looked good by itself, just seemed excessive in the context of the shelves. In short, the designs weren’t elegant. It was back to the drawing board.

As I considered alternatives to the design problem, I came to the conclusion that I had to, in a way, start from scratch. With the previous shelves I had tried to implement my go-to cabling pattern and, while it worked well for the Contour Coffee Table and many of my sculptures, it wasn’t right in this instance. As such, I tried to approach the problem with fresh eyes. I knew I wanted the shelf to be comprised of wood and steel cable, but beyond that I tried to wipe the slate clean. How, I thought, would I have approached this problem three years ago if I were coming up with some method of cabling for the first time? Above all else, I thought, the solution had to be simple (the simplest things are often the most elegant) and once I got in this mindset, the answer came surprisingly quickly. Rather than trying to use curved pieces that just didn’t jive that well with the idea of a shelf, why not just use two simple rectangles? A vertical rectangle could be mounted to the wall and a horizontal one (the shelf) could be cantilevered out and supported by the cables just like a suspension bridge. I carefully sketched the concept out and then got to work.

Original sketch for final version of Suspension Shelf

The trickiest part of the design process was creating a vertical fin that would mount to the wall as well as house all the cables and copper crimps that secure them in place. As with much of my other work, a shopbot was crucial to the successful realization of the design. I drew all of the recessed areas the vertical fin would need on the computer and then had the CNC machine (basically a wood – cutting robot arm that can move in 3 axes, for those who don’t know) cut them out. I first made a prototype out of plywood just to make sure everything would work as intended and then I moved on to selecting final materials. I had just finished experimenting with mahogany and oak on the Signature Lamp and I loved the combination so much decided to stick with it. There’s plenty more I could write since I love this design, but I’ve said enough… Here are some pictures:

I had to determine how much weight the shelf could support, so what better way than to put all my heavy books on it? It's pictured here with 60 lbs. Didn't seem like weight should be a problem.

No books

You can check out the Suspension Shelf product page here


Signature Lamp

Welcome to the new site! I’ve been working on a bunch of new stuff for the past couple months and now it’s finally time to share what I’ve been up to! I have several new designs that I’m ready to release and I’ll be posting about them for the next few days. Today’s feature is the Signature Lamp!

The Signature lamp is a compact LED lamp that, like many of my other works, makes use of steel cable under tension to create a carefully balanced system. The design for the Signature lamp was inspired by the logo that I developed for my new business. Creating the logo, I wanted a simple form that would capture the essence of my work and the design I eventually came up with was not based off of any particular piece, but I thought it worked well. I started thinking about how I could make something physical out of this abstract, 2D form and quickly settled on the idea of a lamp. I had wanted to experiment with LEDs for a while now and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. The logo design was, or course, not well suited to incorporate a traditional light bulb, but LEDs might just fit perfectly in the thin curve that was the central element of the logo design.

Sketch for Signature Lamp

The design process took some trial and error and, surprisingly, the most difficult part was finding the right LEDs and, even more so, a good light switch. I spent hours online looking at different switches (I don’t think anything else is more boring) and tried out a few lemons before I finally found one that fit the look of the lamp well. Developing the sculptural design of the lamp was a whole lot more fun. The logo provided me with a general idea of what I wanted things to look like and I took it from there.

Unassembled parts for the Signature Lamp. You can see the CNC - cut channels for the LEDs and electric wiring.

I used the exact shape of the curve from the logo as the central element of the lamp and used a CNC machine to cut all of the pieces and create all the channels necessary to hide the electric wiring. What I ended up with was a mahogany curve perched atop a red oak base and supported by cables under tension running between the two. I had never used either of these woods before, but I decided early on that I wanted two contrasting natural colors and these two fit the bill. I think they worked out great! I didn’t use any adhesive or fasteners to hold the curve in place; it just sits in a small groove cut into the base so that it doesn’t slide anywhere. The LEDs I chose are ultra bright, so the final step was to find a nice light transmitting acrylic to cover them. The end result is a functional, compact lamp that I’m really excited to share with everyone!

Signature Lamp from behind

The lamp in an otherwise pitch black room... It's pretty bright!

The Signature Lamp in its natural habitat.