Brutalist Style Lamp | Art & Design

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I’ve been very interested in the Brutalist design style lately. Mostly, it’s a mid 20th century architectural style that incorporates utilitarian materials such as concrete with limited adornment. Brutalism is also seen in some furniture design.

brutalist lamp

For this Art & Design project, I wanted to explore some of the Brutalist concepts and incorporate them into a useful, but artistic piece:

  • This lamp features a harsh, square concrete slab as a base with no color or decorative elements added.
  • The neck is made of a single oak board, bent into an arc.
  • All the hardware and electrical components are exposed.
  • I’ve included an antique-style bulb with no shade. Just harsh light.

Making the lamp

This project was a bit unusual in that I had to work ahead a couple days to deal with the wood bending and the concrete setting.  I started by cutting 1/4″ (6mm) strips of lumber. To do this, I hot-glued a board to a simple sled and ran it through my table saw.  This keeps the board stable and upright and keeps my fingers safe.

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I set them in water to soak for a few hours. I’m not sure what the optimum soak time is, but this seemed to work. I think it would vary depending on what type of wood you use. Oak is one of the best wood choices for bending.

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While those strips were soaking, I made a simple form for the concrete. It’s just a box made out of Melamine: its slick laminate surface prevents the concrete from sticking. I also attached a dowel in the middle to create the hole for the mounting bolt.

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I mixed a small amount of regular concrete, poured it into the mold and leveled it out.

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After a few hours of soaking, I bent the wood slats by forcing them between the jaws of a pipe clamp. There are a lot of methods for bending wood, but this is a very simple way that doesn’t require much prep. I let them dry for 24 hours.

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I was impatient and removed the form from the concrete after about 20 hours. The concrete seemed a little fragile though, so  I would recommend waiting 48 hours.

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When you remove the bent boards from their clamps, expect them to spring back a little. Mine sprung back about 20%, making for a somewhat wider arc, which worked out well in this case. I cut curves in the ends and drilled a hole for the base mounding bolt and a larger hole for the light socket.

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I finished the wood and sealed the concrete with spray lacquer, then attached the two pieces together. With a large bolt, nut, and oversized fender washer on top. The huge washer isn’t necessary, I just thought it looked cool.

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I used a lamp socket from a clamp-on work lamp. These are less expensive than buying the cord and socket separately. It’s also worth checking out thrift stores for old lamps you can buy for their electrical hardware. I attached it with a metal pipe strap.

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I held the cord in place with cord clips attached to the back of the lamp with screws and nuts.

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And finally, I stuck some felt pads to the underside of the base.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. I dont care for the look. The industrial look is not me but I respect your creative nature and trying things outside the box.

  2. Great artsy piece.I did get an idea while watching you bend the wood.If you had a couple of pieces of 1/2″ or 3/4″ square scrap on pipe clamp boards it may help prevent the wood from wanting to “turn” on the pipe

  3. Steve … I love the design and the look! Thanks for the tips on bending the oak and introducing the concept of Brutalist style architecture. I went and did a Google image search for brutalist architecture for the Atlanta area and spotted a few buildings I recognized. Enjoyed the tutorial!

  4. A pair of “safety glasses” might make it less scary. Yes, no, maybe. I vote “yes”. Good video as they all are. Thanks.

  5. Did not see the link for the new tshirt. Love your work. I am a 62 year old beginner in woodworking living in a basement apartment so its a challenge. Made an version of your older update to a flatware drawer this weekend using hand tools and a stapler.
    Thanks

    Steve Seelye

  6. Not really my thing. I do bent laminations to create oak back scratchers. They are very popular because the bend in the scratcher really hit that “spot” on the back.

  7. I like your approach and while some people say they don’t care for this look, I think it’s got great potential. The industrial look is all about contrast in materials and styling. Your hardware is too clean and should be worked over with a blow torch or something like that. I love the bent wood effect, but the brackets holding the cord in place is distracting. I would have tried using two lats with a groove routed into the both of them, then glued together to accommodate the wiring inside. That would have been a nicer effect. Keep up the great work though, your videos remain a great inspiration for many ambitious mortals out there!

  8. I love the lamp. Did you put the lamp shade on it to see what it would look like? Like you said you either love it or hate it.

  9. How do you make your templates from sketchup overlap with the crosshairs on them? I have made a template to make a canoe paddle but I can not find out how to make the pages overlap so I can line up the crosshairs anywhere! I’d appreciate the help. thanks! your work and videos have helped/inspired me a ton as I’ve gotten into woodworking. thanks again!

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