Light - The goal of this project was to create a full scale functional prototype lamp out of aluminum.
Experimentation - Since the project had few specific requirements to research, I began with experimentation. My goal was to understand how light interacted with a variety of transparent materials. I used various shapes of glass and acrylic, and several types of light sources, from diffused fluorescent, directional LED, and a highly directional laser. The materials were cut, polished, heated, bent, painted, and sandblasted to see what effect each treatment had on the transmission and quality of light.
Inspiration - After experimenting with light and various materials, I began to consider common types of light sources that are in widespread use. One of these is the tubular fluorescent lamp, seen here in Chicako Ibaraki's piece, Line. The form language from this source, combined with the fiber optic type of effect I had observed during the above experiments, formed the basis for the next set of sketches.
Sketch Progression - This sketch set started with using the linear light element in different orientations. I was searching for a method to tweak the normal linear element, and began to experiment with adding a slight curvature. This curvature was increased, and the thin emitter shape was gradually balanced with the mass of the lamp body.
Full Scale Models - The sketches were created in parallel with full scale paper models. The models helped to evaluate the shapes rapidly, and the insights gained were then applied back into the sketch process.
Full Scale Models - The bases were constructed from foamcore and paper, and varied from 40 inches to 50 inches in height. A fully functional paper prototype was also made, in order to evaluate the quality of light that could be expected from the final version.
Construction - The final base was constructed from MDF. The main structure was made from 1/2" thick material, and the outer layer was formed with 1/8" thick sheets. Power is supplied from a removable cord via a socket in the base. The line voltage is converted by a transformer from 110v to 12v to power the LED strip. The base has a set of magnetic contacts at the top that index into the lamp's base plate, providing power to the lamp.
Lamp Assembly - The final lamp was cnc milled from two solid blocks of aluminum. The sides of the lamp form a compound curve, this geometry would have been impossible to achieve with sheet material. The two halves index together with pins, and are secured with epoxy resin. The base plate is removable, and allows access to the 12v LED strip used for the light source.
Final Prep - The lamps were presented to the public during a show at Mithun Architects, in Seattle. The bases were painted with an automotive grade silver paint and topcoat. A final wipe down removed any last finger prints or dust.
Final Lamp & Podium - A lighted acrylic button turns the lamp and base on and off. To aid in locating the switch in the dark, the button remains lit when the lamp is off. When the lamp is turned on, the button becomes brighter.
Lamp in Context
Paul Summerson
Industrial Designer San Francisco, CA