Brutalist Desk Lamp Specifications and Constraints

Before I introduce my top 5 specifications and constraints, I would like to give a quick progress update on my project. At this point in time, I have ordered and received all of my parts from McMaster-Carr. This includes several tube joints, a light bulb fixture, and 4 feet of aluminum tubing that I will cut to length.

The next step will be building the mold and pouring the concrete. I am thinking of using carboard for the mold because then I will be able to make a more complex shape than with wood, like what I was originally planning. The final step will be assembly and electrical wiring for the lightbulb. This is a new sketch of my final design:


These are the top five specifications for my lamp:

  1. The lamp body looks like a brutalist building. This is the most important aesthetic specification for the lamp’s appearance. Using concrete and a more complex geometry should help achieve this goal.
  2. The lamp should be easily adjustable. I will be using wing nuts to add several degrees of freedom so that the bulb can be moved around and locked into position.
  3. The lamp should have an on/off switch. I want the lamp to be easy to turn on/off, so I will be wiring a switch in order to accomplish this.
  4. The lamp should be a manageable size and weight. I am thinking of adding some Styrofoam infill to the concrete in order to reduce the weight.
  5. The lamp must be sturdy and durable. Using metal and concrete should allow me to accomplish this goal.

And these are my top 5 constraints:

  1. Time. I need to make sure I have enough time to fully construct and assemble my project. This is manageable because I have specifically selected a project that I think I can complete in the remaining time.
  2. My concrete pouring skills. I think I have a good idea for my mold construction but I will have to do more research to figure out if I need some sort of mold release, or what sort of infill to use for maximum durability.
  3. Budget. I have already spent about 100 dollars on parts so far, so I will try to keep all other costs to a minimum.
  4. Finding / making a small lampshade. I will need to solve this problem at the end of the project, I think I will purchase a small lampshade from home depot or I will look on amazon for something I can use.
  5. Electrical wiring. I will need to do some research to make sure I have safely and correctly wired my lightbulb.

The toughest ones will be making sure the concrete pour goes well so that the aesthetic is achieved. I am prioritizing the brutalist aesthetic and functionality of the final product. Overall, I think I am well prepared to complete my project on time due to my planning and making sure that I can do all the steps in during the remaining time. I am excited to see how it turns out and to use it in my day to day life!

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5 Comments. Leave new

  • […] Brutalist Desk Lamp Specifications and Constraints […]

  • Trent Bjorkman
    April 7, 2024 9:34 pm

    Hey Alex, I love your ideas! I’m excited to see the project once you have everything figured out. I have a question, how do you plan to make the cutout for the wire to go through at the base of the lamp?

    • Alex Gebben
      May 7, 2024 5:39 pm

      Thanks trent, I am going to have a T-joint and part of the tube sticking out of the side so that the wires can be routed through the tubes up to the lightbulb.

  • Jadin Zaccagnino
    April 5, 2024 12:33 pm

    Alex, this concept is so cool! I like how the base is brutalist yet simple, and the lamp is highly adjustable to illuminate from many angles. Do you plan on using an LED or incandescent bulb? Also, using only cardboard is risky for the mold especially if you want the faces to be flat. I think you’d be better off at least reinforcing the cardboard, or more ideally making the mold out of just wood to ensure the weight of the concrete doesn’t cause any mold deflection. The ITLL woodshop has lots of free scrap wood and helpful people if you choose to go that route. Either way, I’m excited to see the final product!

    • Alex Gebben
      May 7, 2024 5:41 pm

      I am using an LED bulb! And I decided to use wood instead of cardboard, which worked very well.


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