Aspiring Design: An Intern’s Perspective on Design

Hi, my name is Crystal Dalton and I am in my junior year at the University of Georgia studying interior design. Originally, I am from Marietta, GA but in the past three years, I have found my home in Athens. I love the people, the places, and everything about the town itself! Through being here, I have also fallen in love with design. I feel that my eyes have truly been opened to a whole new world; I had no earthly idea just how much design influences day-to-day functions until I was immersed in school homework and projects up to my eyeballs! But, it really is SO COOL! Hopefully reading my blog posts you will taste and see that design goes beyond just finishes like paint colors and accessories, and that it affects the core of who we are.

The Fabulous World of Lighting

When you walk into a store looking for the perfect decorative accessories to compliment your space, you never think about the design behind them. You just look to see what functions they serve, and if they will work in your space. This is especially true with lamps. First, you look at the type, whether it’s a floor lamp, a table lamp, a pendant light, a chandelier, etc. Then you look at the details: size, shape, style, and shade type. But have you ever stopped and thought about what the designer went thorough to get to this end product?
This semester in my building systems class, we explored this idea through the challenge of designing our own working lamp. The only requirements were that it had to safely work, and we had to use a repurposed item in our design.
When I was first presented with this challenge, I didn’t really know where to start, so I did what consumers typically do in stores: I picked the type of lamp I wanted to design. After making the decision to design a floor lamp, I gathered several inspiration images and realized that my design was taking on a very industrial feel. I really gravitated towards metal pipes, washers, and retro metal lampshades. However, I still didn’t have a real direction until I went home for the Labor Day holiday.
I was telling my dad about our project and the next thing I knew he pulled out a perfect piece to use as the base of my lamp: his tail hook. My dad was in the navy and before he got out, he received a hook that was used to catch the planes as they come into land on the aircraft carriers. It completely fit with my industrial design inspiration and I immediately had hundreds of ideas that I began to sketch out; however, ideas are one thing and a working lamp is completely another thing. My final idea though was to construct a floor lamp with a moveable pulley arm.
When I started constructing my lamp I decided to build the base first. I had envisioned just simply having a square base to sit the tail hook on, but that did not work. So, I went from a simple square, to a hollowed out square, to a circle in my base design; however, it was still not stable. I realized that the base needed to be secured and anchored because if I were going to have the lamp arm move there would be pull on the structure. So, I decided to anchor the hook with cables. I used one big cable over the bottom of the base, but that still wasn’t good enough. It needed more support. The idea for having more cables providing tension support helped me create the final base design. I needed something to anchor the tension cables into so I cut out three propeller shapes to place under the circular base.

The arms of the lamp were another puzzle piece. It took me several tries to find the right specific combination of pipe lengths and piece them together. Once I had constructed the arms like I wanted I then realized that the wiring needed to through the pipes, so I had to deconstruct, add the wiring, and then reconstruct.  It was a process!

To finish the lamp, I incorporated my nautical theme by creating a shade to imitate a parachute. I found an old wire planting frame as the base and draped parachute material over it sewing it together to create folds. The best part about this is that with the pulley arm its like the shade really is parachuting down to the ground!
After going through this whole process I have a complete fascination for product design. Now when shopping, I have a learned appreciation for the design behind the products! Design is such an intriguing world we often just tend to gloss over!
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