Top 5 Constraints 2020: Desk Lamp

After deliberating a bit, I have chosen to follow Option 3: Futuristic Laser Cut Sections of my last “Main Project Aesthetics” post when creating my desk lamp. I hope to create something similar to the featured image design [1] by laser cutting wood into a sleek, decorative arrangement of geometric shapes. Again, I hope to add a silver metallic paint to the wood shapes after laser cutting to shift my lamp even further toward the “futuristic” aesthetic. Our classmate Patrick Bodine-Ellison raised the important question of if I want to apply the silver paint to the potentially-blackened edges of the wood after laser cutting, and suggested the possibility of finding a naturally silver or grey wood to laser cut.

Figure 1. Metallic paint on wooden furniture [2], a finish I would like to replicate by adding silver metallic paint to all laser cut wood shapes.

My top 5 constraints – in no particular order – for this project moving forward are as follows:

1. Light Sourcing

For this project I’m not looking to create a lighting element from scratch, so I will likely try to find a simple, LED or similar light with a warm, orange hue and circular pedestal around which to build my decorative frame.

2. Materials

As I intend to use a laser cutter, whatever material I make the geometric shapes that surround my lamp base and the lamp base itself out of must be compatible with the laser cutter. Our classmate Patick Bodine-Ellison suggested Baltic Birch plywood as an excellent wood for laser cutting earlier in the semester, and even offered to supply me with some he had leftover, so I will likely take him up on that offer. As he also suggested, I could look into finding naturally silver or gray woods that are compatible with laser cutting.

3. Size

My current desk has about a foot-by-foot open area in the back corner that will serve as the largest possible building envelope for this desk lamp’s base. I may need to make the lamp slimmer than the design shown as the featured image. I have no real limitations on height, but I do wish to keep the lamp around my initial proposed height range of 2 feet to a meter as described within my last “Main Project Aesthetics” post.

4. Aesthetics

Above all else, I want to adhere to the futuristic aesthetic. I hope to achieve this with sleek, geometric shapes for the decorative shades around the central lighting element. I don’t necessarily associate a warm hue of light with a futuristic aesthetic, but if I surround the light with the proper shapes and colors, I don’t think it will detract from the overall futuristic aesthetic I hope to create.

5. Durability

My initial functional goal was to make this desk lamp as sturdy as possible, as I hope to bring this lamp with me when I move. While I do think this functional goal will be most difficult with for this option of aesthetic compared to the others listed within my previous post, I still think it can be achieved. I will have to decide how I wish to secure the sections of decorative shade around the central circular base and lighting element. Perhaps I don’t wish to “secure” them at all, and instead I will add another another, lower circular frame with slits to hold the bottom of the decorative sections. I could try to incorporate concepts of joinery, so no adhesive or fasteners are needed at all.

Image and Inspiration Citations

[1] “Cascade Design Laser Cut Wooden Table Lamp Shade”. Accessed 24 February, 2020 from


[2] “ Tips on using Metallic Paint and a Silver Painted Dressing Table Set”. Posted by Fiona on 13 December 2013. Accessed 24 February, 2020 from


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4 Comments. Leave new

  • […] Top 5 Constraints 2020: Desk Lamp […]

  • Paul Tapsall
    March 9, 2020 11:52 am

    Hi Justin, will there be moving parts to this lamp? I really like the idea and I think these constraints are prevalent to the task you have at hand. Looking at this design, maybe a cool thing to add would be if it was slowly spinning? That could create sort of a wave effect since the size of the panels are in increasing order. Excited to see the final product!

  • Hi Justin, you can possibly spray paint it before you laser cut it. I dont know if that is safe or not, but something to look into. What will be the hardest constraint to meet? Or which one do you need to pay the most attention to? When the project is done, will the light bulb be visible, or will it be completely enclosed in the laser-cut pieces? It would be cool if you used different types of materials, some translucent and others that are not. This could add to your aesthetic and the overall functionality of the light.

    • Justin Engbrecht
      March 4, 2020 9:44 pm

      I think I am planning to paint after laser cutting, but I’ll try to consult someone in the ITLL about the best order. I will probably pay most attention to my aesthetic constraint. When I’m complete, the light bulb will probably be visible, but I could look into adding a shade or recessing it within the wooden base.


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